Limbo at the markets

A REVIEW of the controversial by-laws governing activities at the Perth Markets in Canning Vale has been completed – and now a review of the Perth Market Act of 1926 begins.

Between 60 per cent and 70 per cent of WA’s fruit and vegetables go through the markets.

Former Agriculture Minister Monty House introduced the by-laws on January 1 after undertaking a $200,000 review of the Act. The by-laws were designed to bring transparency to dealings between growers and agents, but some agents claimed they were harming their operations.

Just four months after the by-laws came in, new Agriculture Minister Kim Chance ordered another review – first of the by-laws and then the Act itself. The by-law review is complete but both Mr Chance and the Agriculture Department remain tight-lipped on its findings.

Even the agents who pushed for the by-law review were unaware it had concluded.

With the by-law review done, Muresk associate professor of agribusiness Murray McGregor is preparing to hold a review of the 75-year old Act and hopes to have a position paper to Government later this year.

It is likely that position paper, to provide the basis for a new Perth Market Act, will be put on ice for some time to allow all concerned parties to make their comments.

Professor McGregor said his brief was to set up something that would take WA’s horticulture industry into the 21st century.

“I’ll be looking at other Acts and things such as National Competition Policy as well,” he said.

Professor McGregor said he was going into the review with an open mind and would be looking at the industry as a whole.

“It’s not just the growers, it’s the transport people and the Canning Vale operations,” he said.

“My whole background is in the supply chain side of things, mostly in agriculture, but the main principles apply to horticulture.”

Professor McGregor said the fact the Act was based solely on Market City would be reviewed.

Tenants, growers and agents fear increased regulation of the site would force more of WA’s fruit and vegetable crops to be sold elsewhere.

At least two agents have left the complex and set up, literally across the road, where they are not governed by the Act.

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