Chapter 1 Introduction
Reference of the Bill to the Committee
On 22 March 2012, the House of Representatives Selection Committee
referred the Wheat Export Marketing Amendment Bill 2012 (the Bill) to the
Committee for inquiry. The Selection Committee gave the following reason for
referring the Bill:
Concern that Australia will lose its place as the premium
supplier of wheat to our two biggest competitor countries Canada and the USA,
both of which have quality assurance processors with exports.
The Bill was introduced into the House of Representatives on 21 March
2012 by the Hon Sid Sidebottom MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture,
Fisheries and Forestry. The Senate also referred the Bill to the Senate
Standing Legislation Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport for
a separate inquiry.
This chapter outlines the objectives of the Bill and the inquiry
process. Chapter two focuses on the content of the Bill, outlining its key
provisions and relevant background information. Chapter three discusses the
issues raised during the course of the inquiry, and finishes by providing the
Committee’s comment and recommendations.
Objectives of the Bill
The Bill aims to facilitate a transition of the bulk wheat export industry
into a deregulated market environment. According to the explanatory memorandum
presented with the Bill:
This Bill will bring the bulk wheat export market into line
with other agricultural commodity markets and promote further competition in
the wheat industry leading to increased productivity and profitability. It
will mean that more buyers will be competing for wheat, helping growers to get
prices that reflect market value. The Bill is expected to drive further
marketing innovation and improve the services that marketers provide to secure
supplies of wheat. It is expected that the industry will also benefit from the
removal of the costs associated with bulk wheat export market regulation.
Mr Sidebottom told the House:
The Bill reflects the Government’s commitment to promoting
competition within the wheat export industry. Australian producers are the
most innovative and efficient in the world. Passage of the Bill will further
develop a wheat-marketing system that rewards this and provides benefits to all
Complete deregulation, however, is made conditional upon conclusion of a
voluntary industry code of conduct. Should this point be reached – and subject
the Minister’s approval – from 1 October 2014 the industry would become subject
to general competition law and the code.
The Committee called for submissions through a newspaper advertisement
on 4 April 2012 and by directly contacting stakeholders. The Committee also
wrote to relevant State, Territory and Federal Ministers, notifying them of the
inquiry and calling for submissions.
The Committee received eighteen
submissions, one confidential submission and one supplementary submission, and
four exhibits. Details of submissions and exhibits can be found in Appendix A.
The Committee held public hearings on 9 and 11 May 2012 in Canberra. Details of
the hearings, including witnesses examined, can be found in Appendix B. Certain
background documents relating to the development of a voluntary code of conduct
for the bulk wheat export industry are in Appendix C.