Australia issues draft code of conduct for ports

by World Grain staff
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CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA — The Australian Government on June 3 released a draft mandatory port access code of conduct for bulk wheat exports and an associated Regulation Impact Statement for industry stakeholders to review and comment on.

In releasing the draft code, Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce said better regulation would benefit Australia’s wheat industry by standardizing access arrangements and improving the transparency of Australian bulk wheat exports.

“I recognize that there are likely to be a variety of views from stakeholders across the grains industry on the draft code. I encourage our stakeholders to get involved to assist in refining the code so it can best promote the prosperity of our industry and agriculture sector,” Joyce said.

The purpose of the draft code is to support farmers and exporters in accessing the critical infrastructure needed to provide Australia’s high-quality wheat to the rest of the world.

“This is another positive initiative that will support our bulk wheat exporters so they can get on with their job, while profiting from export opportunities and helping build Australia’s wheat export industry, which was worth A$6.8 billion in 2012-13,” Joyce said.

Under the current legislation, the Wheat Export Marketing Act 2008, only port terminal operators with a wheat exporting business must pass an access test, which involves them having an access undertaking with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

“This draft code of conduct will replace that requirement to give all exporters of bulk wheat fair and transparent access to port terminal services, regardless of who owns the terminal,” Minister Joyce said.

The draft code of conduct will seek to address concerns around inequity in regulations by applying to all grain export terminals and allowing compliance requirements to be reduced as competition for services increases. Significant investments in new port terminal infrastructure have recently been announced, which will increase competition to the benefit of all sectors in the export chain.

“I am pleased to see the developing competition in the sector to provide more choice for farmers and exporters and more competition for their grain. Regulation should be tailored to where it is most needed and to promote an efficient and profitable wheat export industry,” Minister Joyce said. “This government is committed to ensuring farmers and exporters are not burdened with unnecessary red tape and regulations. We know exporters need to be able to negotiate access to critical infrastructure to meet the demands of international customers. The release of this draft code for consultation is an important step in ensuring we get the level of regulation right.”

In developing the draft code, the Department of Agriculture has consulted the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which will have an important role in monitoring and enforcing the code once in place.

To view and make a submission on the Port Access Code of Conduct exposure draft and Regulation Impact Statement, visit www.daff.gov.au/portcode. Submissions must be submitted by close of business on June 24.

 

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