WA Liberals are under mounting pressure to split from their east coast counterparts and support Gillard Government plans to deregulate fully the national wheat industry.
Sixteen of the 17 WA Liberal MPs and senators will meet this morning to discuss whether to break from the rest of the coalition over the issue.
It comes after the Government's move to wind up the Wheat Export Authority by year's end.
Since 2008, the authority has been given the job of accrediting and supervising wheat exporters.
But a Productivity Commission report recommended abolishing the authority, which is supported by a 22¢-a-tonne levy on growers.
A fortnight ago, WA members of the shadow ministry went to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to argue the Liberal Party was a party of deregulation and should be allowed to split from the Nationals in support of the Government Bill. But soon after, the coalition's agriculture spokesman, Nationals MP John Cobb, proposed an amendment that would delay any action on the WEA for two years.
Since then anger within the WA wheat community and WA Liberal Party has soared. With the Greens and key independents unlikely to support the Government, it needs Liberal MPs, who backed the move to open up the wheat export market in 2008, to support its plan.
Former WA treasurer, and now the preselected Liberal candidate for Pearce, Christian Porter, said the party's representatives in Canberra had a clear choice.
"Deregulation allows for WA farmers to make their own decisions on wheat marketing," Mr Porter said. "That sort of choice is what Liberals stand for and the approach taken in deregulation of the wheat export industry has been a sensible gradual transition to market deregulation, which has really benefited WA wheat growers."
Former long-term Liberal MHR Wilson Tuckey wrote to WA Liberal senators last week, urging them to vote with the Government to ditch the WEA. He said it was in the interests of WA to axe the authority, lifting an impost on the State's wheat growers.Senior WA Liberal Julie Bishop yesterday acknowledged views on deregulation of the wheat industry differed according to which side of the country you lived. "Certainly from the Liberal Party's point of view, (deregulation) is something we'll aim for," she said.
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