Changes to the wheat marketing arrangements announced by AWB will strengthen the management of the Single Desk on behalf of Australian wheat growers, according to AWB Limited (AWBL) Chairman Brendan Stewart.
Addressing the Agriculture Australia conference in Sydney today, Mr Stewart said it was important that any change to the wheat marketing arrangements retain the grower and shareholder benefits of an integrated Single Desk system.
“We are committed to increasing the autonomy and transparency of AWB International (AWBI), without compromising the benefits of the Single Desk system, and without incurring inappropriate costs for the Pool,” Mr Stewart said. “I think we have achieved that.”
“These changes are in line with recommendations from grower groups and direct feedback from growers, and they build on the recommendations of the Williams Review of the Wheat Marketing Act.
“We still have some detail to work through, and we are consulting with industry now as part of this process. However, the Board of AWBL believes introducing these changes will provide the autonomy and transparency that the industry has been seeking for AWBI,” Mr Stewart said.
The changes, which are effective from October 1, would involve separate Board, governance and committee structures for AWBI, along with separate staff. AWBI will serve an industry good function in managing the Single Desk, including controlling the bulk veto and providing input into permit applications with the Wheat Export Authority. The bundled services contract between AWBI and AWBL will remain, and both Boards have committed to renegotiating the Services Agreement to reflect the new company restructure.
Mr Stewart said growers needed to understand the implications of any proposed change to the Single Desk, to ensure it meets the grower value test.
“There are a number of core principles to the Single Desk, which were set down as ‘non-negotiable’ by growers when they established the system,” Mr Stewart said.
“The key principles still stand, and include the receiver of last resort, security of payment, the constitutional obligation to maximise pool returns, and retention of a grower controlled marketing structure.
“AWB believes the marketing system should continue to evolve, and should be flexible enough to accommodate change. However, both the Boards of AWB International and AWB Limited are obliged and committed to only pursuing change that is primarily beneficial to growers,” Mr Stewart said.
View extract of AWB Chairman Mr Brendan Stewart's address.