Wheat

​​​Picture of harvester, harvesting a crop 

Overview

Wheat is the major winter crop grown in Australia with sowing starting in autumn and harvesting, depending on seasonal conditions, occurring in spring and summer. The main producing states are Western Australia, New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland.

The majority of Australian wheat is sold overseas with Western Australia the largest exporting state. The major export markets are in the Asian and Middle East regions and include Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam and Sudan.

Wheat grown for domestic consumption and feedstock is predominately produced on the east coast.

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Mandatory Port Access Code of Conduct for Grain Export Terminals

The code of conduct–which is monitored and enforced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)–seeks to:

  • Promote the operation of an efficient and profitable bulk wheat export industry
  • Provide a regulatory framework to ensure all bulk wheat exporters have fair and transparent port terminal access; and
  • Remove unnecessary regulatory burden on port terminal service providers,

As a regulation under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, a breach of the code would be a breach of that Act, and may result in serious consequences.

The code commenced on 30 September 2014. It was developed through consultation with industry, including public consultation on an exposure draft in June 2014. Changes to the code were subsequently made to address some industry concerns and to better reflect the government’s policy objectives.

A Regulation Impact Statement PDF Icon PDF [1.0 MB, 39 pages] Word Icon Word [1.0 MB, 39 pages], approved by Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR), was developed prior to introduction of the code.

What changed​

Since 2008, bulk wheat port access issues have been governed by the Wheat Export Marketing Act 2008 (the Act). The Act required that port terminal operators with a wheat exporting business pass an ‘access test’ as a condition of export. This involved them having to develop, and have approved, an access undertaking with the ACCC.

The code of conduct will replaces the Act, which was automatically repealed on 1 October 2014. Port terminal operators are no longer be required to develop individual agreements with the ACCC, but instead need to comply with the code. The code also applies to all port terminal operators, not just those with associated wheat export businesses, to ensure that regulation is applied more consistently. At a minimum, all operators have to meet basic transparency requirements.

Bulk wheat port access issues are governed by the code and complemented by existing competition law, both of which are enforced by the ACCC.

What does the Code of Conduct require terminal operators to do?

The code of conduct regulates the behaviours of bulk wheat port terminal service providers and exporters, and improves the transparency of port terminal operations.

The code requires port terminal operators to comply with a range of provisions, including many that are required under the previous arrangements. For example, a port terminal operator is required to:

  • allocate available port terminal capacity through a mechanism which applies equally to all exporters;
  • publish certain information on its website, such as the amount of capacity available on a weekly and annual basis, and key performance indicators;
  • undertake a process for amendments to port loading protocols, including the requirement to consult; and
  • comply with dispute resolution processes, among other things.

The above list is indicative only. Interested parties should view the regulation in its entirety at Competition and Consumer (Industry Code-Port Terminal Access (Bulk Wheat)) Regulation 2014.

The code is able to respond to different market situations by reducing the level of regulation where it is warranted. The Minister for Agriculture and the ACCC both have decision-making roles to exempt particular ports from the more onerous provisions of the code.

Exempt operators will still need to comply with certain provisions of the code to ensure access to services remains transparent. Exempt operators will still be required to:

  • publish a daily statement about ships due to load at the port (a shipping stem);
  • publish standard information about how they allocate capacity and manage demand for their services; and
  • publish standard terms and reference prices available to all exporters.

The above list is indicative only. Interested parties should view the regulation in its entirety at Competition and Consumer (Industry Code-Port Terminal Access (Bulk Wheat)) Regulation 2014.

Wheat Industry Advisory Taskforce

The Wheat Industry Advisory Taskforce websitewas archived in December 2014. Content is available on the National Library of Australia's Trove web archive

Wheat Industry Special Account

The Wheat Industry Special Account was created through amendments to the Act in 2012. Funds held by Wheat Exports Australia at the time of it abolition were credited to this account, to be used for activities which benefit the wheat export industry. With the repeal of the Act in 2014 the special account was abolished and the funds transferred to the GRDC under an ad hoc grant for activities which benefit the wheat export industry.

The Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources has a role in approving projects and has previously committed some of these funds to a voluntary stocks reporting initiative, as recommended by the Wheat Industry Advisory Taskforce. Use of any remaining funds will be considered at a future date.