by Kevin O'NeillNews Weekly
Wilson Tuckey II (letter)
, March 7, 2009
I refer to Mr Wilson Tuckey MP's recent letter to News Weekly
(February 21, 2009).
He seems to doubt my experience and knowledge of the wheat industry. He is apparently unaware of a seven-year dry time in the Eastern States with a very low wheat production for export.
As a teenager in the early 1930s before the single desk, I delivered wheat with the horse teams to Berrigan and Oaklands from the family farm located mid-way between the rail heads.
The working conditions on farms in those days were another name for slavery for the men and women who worked there.
As a soldier-settler after World War II, I delivered wheat and rice to Jerilderie, Finley, Tocumwal, Mairjimmy and Hogan under the single desk until I retired about eight years ago. Rice is still produced and sold under the single desk and is the most successful agricultural industry in Australia.
The marketing stability of the single desk was helpful to farmers of the Eastern States who have a very erratic rainfall pattern, as opposed to Western Australia that has a lower but more stable rainfall in the wheat belt.
Under the single desk the WA wheat belt expanded with power-farming and wide-line machinery, cheaper land and trace elements.
Helped by dedicated plant-breeders, agronomists and sheep studs in the Eastern States, the farmers got on top of the poison weed and put sheep on.
Wheat-growing in WA is a success story.
Nowhere have I claimed that promises were made that deregulation would influence overseas subsidies.
What I did say was, "It was claimed that abolition of the single desk was the forerunner of the abolition of export subsidies by the United States and the European Union". (Letters, News Weekly
, February 7, 2009).News Weekly
columnist, Mr Colin Teese, a former deputy secretary of the Department of Trade, put it more bluntly.
He said: "There is a view being put about that if wheat-growers give up the idea of the single selling-desk, then the US and EU will be prepared to negotiate on subsidies and on access to their markets. Don't believe a word of it. They won't". (News Weekly
, March 17, 2007).Kevin O'Neill,