New review of PMA ordered

A MAJOR review of the Perth Market Authority has been ordered by the new WA Government, just four months after by-laws suggested by a recent review came into effect.

The Government’s review is expected to take four years.

The Perth Market Authority acts as a landlord for Market City in Canning Vale and regulates how business is done there.

Grower groups want the review called off because the transparency by-laws, introduced on January 1, appear to be working.

They say they were never consulted about the review. In fact even the Perth Market Authority was unaware of it. However, Labor did have the review listed as one of its policy platforms.

Some agents, however, believe the review is necessary because the new by-laws are unworkable.

They say regulation would be fine if they covered all produce in WA. However, an agent could move away from the Market City site and not be covered by the laws.

WA Vegetable Growers’ Association president Sam Calameri said the 23 agents servicing Market City had been slow to take on the transparency by-laws but that was probably due to uncertainty about the outcome of the February 10 State election.

WA Fruit Growers Association president Steve Dilley said 15 of the 23 agents at Market City had taken up the by-laws.

He believes only five of the remaining eight are strongly opposed to them.

“The by-laws have only been in place for four months. It’s ludicrous to abandon them before they’ve had a chance to work,” Mr Dilley said.

Growers were unhappy about a lack of price transparency at Market City.

Until three years ago, Market City agents acted on a commission basis.

Mr Dilley said growers were happy with that arrangement because they were told the price their produce sold for and what the agent’s commission fee was.

Then agents swapped to a net price regime and growers were no longer told what price their produce had sold for.

Produce agency Mercer Mooney’s John Mercer said he was one of the main opponents of the new by-laws.

“We’re up against Coles and Woolworths and the like,” Mr Mercer said.

“There are times we need confidentiality in things that we do and times we don’t. The choice should be up to us.

“At the end of the day, growers don’t have to deal with us, they can sell to other agents.

“A lot of growers just want to know how much they are going to get paid and when they will get paid.”

Mr Mercer said governments in the eastern states had spent the past 10 years getting rid of regulations covering produce markets.

Agriculture Minister Kim Chance said the first set of the new Government’s review would be an investigation of the remedial measures put in place last year.

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