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Land and Environment : Agribusiness Assoc. of Australia

Contents -Autumn (May) 2004

From the Editors

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Paper 36

Activity Gross Margins and Water Reform

Robert Douglas, Gavan Dwyer and Deborah Peterson

Productivity Commission

Gross margins can be of some use when comparing the short term gross returns and variable costs of similar farming activities, or when comparing similar production options. However, gross margins have serious limitations when used for deciding the merits of changing farming enterprises over the longer term e.g. for water reform.

Paper 37

Labor may use its loaf to end Coalition's inept wheat marketing policy


Professor Paul Kerin

Melbourne Business School

IF Labor wins on Saturday, we'll witness long-overdue reforms to bulk wheat marketing arrangements. While the Coalition's stated preference is to maintain the "single desk", multiple insiders say a Machiavellian Prime Minister will deregulate next year but I wouldn't bet on it. I spoke with Opposition agriculture spokesman Kerry O'Brien on Sunday about Labor's plan. While it's not complete deregulation, it's a huge leap forward. The Coalition, mired in internal ructions, can't even tip-toe forward. Labor will establish an accreditation system. Anyone may apply to export wheat. A new authority, Wheat Exports Australia, will evaluate applications against criteria, including financial standing, probity and reputation. While anyone can apply for a permit under the current system, AWB vetoed all applications until the Government, under pressure following the Cole Inquiry's damning findings on the AWB oil-for-food scandal, transferred veto power to Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran in December. Apart from several token approvals, McGauran has vetoed or simply sat on all applications. A National and avowed single-desker, McGauran is fundamentally conflicted. He claims to act in the "public interest", but his refusal to define it helps him get away with this appalling behaviour.




Bill Malcolm Glenn Ronan
Co-editor and
Associate Professor
Institute of Land and Food Resources
The University of Melbourne
Victoria, Australia
Co-editor and
Principal Strategy Consultant, Corporate Strategy and Policy,
Primary Industries and Resources South Australia


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