THE proposed takeover of GrainCorp by Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) was unsurprisingly top of the agenda at a Q&A session organised by NSW Farmers last night.
Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan, Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, member-elect for Hume Angus Taylor, National Farmers’ Federation president Duncan Fraser and Wagga mayor Rod Kendall were on the panel grilled on issues ranging from the GrainCorp takeover to clean energy and live exports.
Member for Riverina Michael McCormack and Nationals Senator Fiona Nash were also scheduled to attend but pulled out late due to commitments in Canberra relating to the swearing in of the new ministry.
Riverina grain grower Jock Munro kicked off the session with an impassioned question about GrainCorp, which saw proceedings get off to a heated start.
Mr Taylor told the session that he was still on the fence about whether to support the takeover and would form a position after meeting with ADM next week.
“I am going into that discussion with an open mind,” he said.
Senator Rhiannon insisted that the takeover should not proceed, but expressed concern that it appeared likely to go ahead in her eyes.
“It’ll just be a monopoly – it’s a bad deal,” she said.
“The treasurer looks as though he’s about to do it.”
The takeover would see GrainCorp’s monopoly absorbed into ADM’s larger monopoly – a proposition that scares Senator Heffernan.
“That will be a bigger monopoly than Coles and Woolies,” he said.
Also on the agenda last night were food labelling laws, foreign workers, clean energy legislation and live exports, with Senator Rhiannon asked if cattle were more important to her party than people.
But she said that the Greens’ opposition to live exports was based on more than just animal welfare issues.
“The benefits to the economy are much greater if we process that meat in Australia,” she said.
“It’s an animal welfare issue but it’s also a jobs issue.”