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Big win for wheat farmers
Photo: Kate Pollard. Cranbrook grain growers Ben Sprigg and John Tuckett.

Farmers across the grain belt are celebrating a win after the Gillard Government’s Wheat Export Marketing Amendment Bill passed through the Lower House last week.

The Bill had been at a standstill but was passed 70 votes to 67 with support of Greens, as well as Labor, independents and WA Nationals MP Tony Crook.

It’s expected to pass in the Senate when debated later this month and will result in Australia’s wheat market moving to full deregulation as recommended by the Productivity Commission.

The Wheat Export Accreditation Scheme and wheat export charge have been abolished; Wheat Exports Australia (WEA) will be wound up from December 31 and the access test for grain port terminal operators will be removed from September 2014.

Amendments have been made to the Criminal Code Act, and the Bill repeals the Wheat Export Marketing Act 2008.

WAFarmers grain section president Kim Simpson said it would save growers 22 cents per tonne. They would also not have to face fees associated with accreditation and port access.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association grain chairman John Snooke said the industry can now look to the future after 20 years of campaigning for deregulation.

Amendments to the Bill by the Greens include a mandatory code of conduct overseen by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the establishment of a wheat export advisory taskforce.

Bulk handler CBH believes a mandatory code will place additional costs on growers and restrict industry’s ability to respond quickly to change.

But grain growers, including John Tuckett from Cranbrook, just want it resolved once and for all.

“The industry needs to either be fully deregulated or fully regulated,” he said.

“There is no point having government control when we export in a free market and I think we have to be fully deregulated.”