Minister Allows Usurping Of Statutory Powers
Agriculture Minister, Jim Sutton, is publicly condoning private interests benefiting from a statutory export monopoly, said ACT Agriculture spokesman Gerry Eckhoff.
Guinness Peat Group and Fay Richwhite Partners, have each acquired a 6 per cent stake from growers, in ENZA. Their goal is 19.9 per cent each which could effectively give themselves, or a ‘stalking horse’ business interest, control of ENZA.
“Jim Sutton’s decision to sit on his hands shows a government prepared to pick winners no matter what the cost.
ENZA, the former Apple and Pear Marketing Board, was corporatised three and a half months ago. It is one of several producer boards with a statutory monopoly on exporting,
“While producer boards can be targeted for inefficiencies and under-management, at least those directly involved bear all risks and profits.
“While it is no surprise that the half baked regulations passed last year would result in this sort of anomaly, Jim Sutton’s refusal to repeal legislation that allows unknown entities to usurp statutory powers, is absolutely outrageous.
“Jim Sutton’s refusal to respond should strike fear in the hearts of small growers everywhere.
“Apple prices have plummeted after two consecutive disastrous seasons. This has seen orchardist’s cashflows dry up, leaving many growers with little choice but to sell. It is the government’s responsibility to level the playing field for small businesses, not stand it on it’s end.
“Jim Sutton must show leadership on this issue and repeal statutory export protection immediately, or take full responsibility for the many rural lives that will be ruined by his Government’s ideological stubbornness,” said Gerry Eckhoff.