The Australian Government is set to pass laws ending the single desk marketing of Australian wheat this week.
As reported by nineMSN, farmers have gathered in Canberra to protest the change. Wheat Growers Action Group chairman Peter Cannon, who helped organise the day of protests, said farmers were being dudded by the changes and wanted the public to know about it.
Wheat Export Market Alliance chairman Graham Blight also told the rally that growers' democratic rights were being ignored.
Without a single desk, "the weakest seller will determine the market", he said.
"The multinationals will come in and have a field day ... our government's given them a blank sheet".
Critics of single desk marketing have used the AWB/Iraq 'scandal' and one particularly heavy loss by Board to justify throwing out the whole single desk system. The opportunistic timing and predatory nature of their push for de-regulation is similar to the Disaster Capitalism modus operandi described by Naomi Klein in her book 'Shock Doctrine'.
The system preferred by many of these critics is - surprise, surprise - a free-market open-slather arrangement where the price of wheat can effectively be bid down to the lowest common denominator by the buyers. The buyers, in this case, would be the same sorts of multinational agri-business conglomerates that are lining up to market Australian wheat once the single desk is gone.
Not surprisingly, both Liberal (in the dubious form of Wilson Tuckey) and Labor (new Minister for Agriculture, Tony Burke) fully support the changes. Both operate in the mind-space of free-market economics, where any Government 'meddling' with the purity of the market is considered heretical.
Even when it helps Australian wheat farmers.
If there are problems with the way that AWB's been run, fix the problem. Don't change a structure that's served Australian wheatgrowers well for decades.