Friday, May 03, 2013

MP launches attack on CBH board

Brad Thompson, The West Australian May 2, 2013

A junior member of the Barnett Government has launched a scathing attack on the management of CBH and urged the co-operative's grower members to consider voting to change to a corporate entity.

Jim Chown, the parliamentary secretary to Treasurer and Transport Minister Troy Buswell, said he was speaking as the MLC for the Agricultural Region and stressed the Government had no official policy on CBH and corporatisation.

But his comments are the strongest indication yet of views within Government on CBH, which is facing unprecedented competition in grain accumulation, storage and transport after operating as a virtual monopoly for the past 80 years.

"I think corporatisation or demutualisation of CBH is absolutely essential if CBH as an entity is to go forward and remain strong in a competitive marketplace," he said.

"Every grower needs to remember that at least three generations over the past 80 years have made significant financial contributions to the co-operative and it would be a crying shame if CBH as a critical asset to the grain industry, through a lack of management, was seen to decline and become less viable."

Mr Chown's comments provoked an angry response from CBH chairman Neil Wandel, who said: "Jim Chown as a junior minister should not involve himself in an industry debate and it's inappropriate for him to cast aspersions on the performance of the CBH board."

Mr Chown said a recent Australian Competition Tribunal judgment, which rejected a CBH bid to maintain a monopoly on grain freight through its Grains Express business, was a damning indictment on how the absence of rivals had not been in the best interests of all WA grain growers.

He said it was inevitable that CBH would have to close some of its 196 up-country grain receivable points to become more efficient.

It was also no secret the Government wanted to encourage competition at portside and his comments were about promoting debate among the 4300 CBH grower members.

Mr Wandel said CBH directors and management were united in their support of a co-operative model, which they believed provided the greatest benefit to growers.
 A LETTER



Dear All,
As you may well know, there is a movement back to cooperatives.
And you understand, of course, it is for the board of CBH to make any decision regarding a privatisation and a listing on the stock exchange.
Might I suggest that given the way the world is turning, a cooperative is the safest way to negotiate the shoals and sharks.
Please, allow me to offer a cautionary tale that you might like to distribute by word of mouth.
My wife and I met on a kibbutz in Israel in 1976.
This kibbutz, Nir Yitzhak, had a very successful plastics factory that made shade cloth.
Exported it all over the planet.
Biggest customer - China.
Biggest Australian client - Bunnings.
Then, when things were at their best, a big shot financial advisor came down from Tel Aviv and said: Wow, you lot have a major chance here to make millions - privatise, list, and you can sit back and never work again.
Even though the concept of never working again should have been repugnant to a mob of agrarian socialist kibbutzniks, they agreed.
Tragedy.
Here's what happened.
- privatised.
- listed.
- GFC
- collapse
- receivership
Nasty.
Now, if they had stayed true to their beliefs, their origins, their structure, they would have survived intact, and maybe even prospered, but they would never have gone into receivership.
Beware.
and
for god and country (meaning rural),
maintain your sense of community
May all your crops go in
and be bountiful
Yours in spirit
and practise
Jon Doust
 

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