Australia's biggest grain exporter has called on Federal Liberal MPs to reverse their opposition to further deregulation of the wheat market, increasing pressure on the party to back stalled Labor reforms.
The WA-based co-op CBH, which is owned by the State's farmers and is normally measured in its statements, yesterday issued a rare unvarnished set of comments aimed squarely at WA Liberal politicians.
"We support the (Gillard) Government's Bill and the removal of what are now unnecessary costs and regulation of wheat marketing arrangements," a CBH spokeswoman said.
"It will be a very disappointing outcome for the WA grain industry if the Bill is not supported by WA Federal representatives.
"Since wheat marketing arrangements began the transition in 2008 to a multi-seller system, WA grain growers have received higher returns for their wheat when compared with their Eastern State counterparts.
"CBH wants the best possible outcome for WA grain growers who are absolutely dependent on export markets."
With its roots in the tense debate over abolishing the single desk wheat marketing system in 2008, east coast Nationals MPs are opposed to further Government plans to scrap the interim wheat regulatory body Wheat Exports Australia.
They say WEA ensures better standards and access to ports.
But WA farming groups dispute this and say the change would also cut a 22¢-a-tonne levy that the Government imposes on growers to fund WEA.
They have accused the usually free-market Liberals of "betrayal", after the party this week deferred to the Nationals against earlier indications. Some WA Liberal Senators support the change.