Issues lost in barley debate (letter)by Trevor M. DayNews Weekly
, July 28, 2001
Independent State MP Russell Savage, in his letter (NW
, July 14), shows a poor understanding of the issues surrounding the decision to abolish the barley single desk in Victoria.
It was not ABB which argued that the single desk generated $15 million in net benefit to the Australian economy, but respected Canberra economist Chris Murphy.
The gain to Victorian barley growers averaged $4 million annually.
From 1995 to 2000, an average 11 per cent of all ABB's (South Australia and Victorian) feed barley exports were from Victoria, not 4 per cent. In fact, of our exports from Victoria, some 31 per cent on average have been feed barley.
ABB was not opposed to the deregulation of containerised barley exports, because they were never really regulated.
Prior to 1999, ABB issued a permit for container exports to any company that wanted one. ABB is an active participant in this market also.
These comments pale, however, compared to Mr Savage's lack of understanding of the market in China.
Mr Savage says COFCO and China Resources Enterprises account for less than 10 per cent of the tonnage. ABB has 14 major customers in China, including direct supply relationships with the two largest brewing companies.
To suggest that COFCO maintains a dominant position on barley imports because of the 35 per cent malt tariff is ridiculous, as COFCO is clearly no longer dominant. The tariff has been in place since the early 1980s.
Even more ludicrous is the notion that Chinese maltsters would lobby to reduce the malt tariff, when that is protecting their industry.
If Mr Savage would care to ask Graincorp, I suspect they would tell him there are extensive barley segregations across Victoria. ABB went even further last year and leased a significant private storage to provide still more.
It is public knowledge that ABB's largest shareholder is Mitsui (Australia) Ltd. a company with a Japanese parent.
They hold 0.57 per cent of our B-class shares (hardly a dominant stake).
The notion that any company could gain advantage from the single desk by investing in B-Class shares is explicitly prevented through ABB's two-company structure and in our constitution, as Mr Savage should well know.Trevor M. Day,