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New code aims to improve wheat export regulations

22 September, 2014

The Australian Government has released the mandatory port access code of conduct for bulk wheat exports, designed to assist farmers and exporters to access the infrastructure that delivers Australia's wheat to the rest of the world.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, and Minister for Small Business, Bruce Billson, said the code will replace the outdated existing arrangements, and give exporters of bulk wheat fair and transparent access to port terminal services.

"We're doing everything we can to support our $6.8 billion wheat export industry to continue to be a reliable supplier of high-quality products," Joyce said.

"After consulting widely with industry, we made some changes to the code to address potential concerns. The code now ensures the level of regulation on port terminal operators is fit-for-purpose and won't impose unnecessary regulatory burden on our wheat export industry."

Flexibility and exemptions

The code is flexible and provides pathways for port terminal operators to be exempt from the more onerous code requirements, where appropriate. All operators will still be required to publish certain information to ensure fair and transparent access.

"The code of conduct—monitored and enforced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission—will work with existing competition law to ensure third party access to critical port infrastructure. As a regulation under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, a breach of the code is a breach of that Act, which has serious consequences," Minister Joyce said.

"The code will support our bulk wheat exporters so they can get on with business—we want our wheat industry to be efficient and profitable for the long term."

Free and open competition

"Having this code in place by 1 October 2014 triggers the automatic repeal of the current wheat export legislation. This is a significant step towards free and open competition in the wheat export industry, which is a longer-term goal to which we have committed," Minister Billson said.

"Importantly, though, further reforms to the nature and extent of regulation of the sector will take place in a staged, methodical way, to ensure that all industry participants have the opportunity to have their voices heard and that changes are in the broader national interest."

The code will commence on 30 September 2014. The Government has provided for a three-year review of the effectiveness and ongoing relevance of the requirements of the code, and a further review if the code is still in place three years later.

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