CBH exemption worries the ACCC


Monopoly or cooperative? CBH’s role in Western Australia’s grain market has been called into question.

CBH exemption worries the ACCC
ACCC chairman Rod Sims believes the CBH cooperative in WA is a monopoly operation.

 

The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) has expressed concern over an exemption to port access rules for Western Australian cooperative grain handler CBH.

The policy decision from agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce, made in October last year, means CBH is able to restrict access to private transport companies looking to deliver grain to its bulk handling ports in southern WA.

It also precludes the ACCC from regulatory oversight over the ports.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims has told a Senate inquiry that the regulator saw the CBH cooperative as a monopoly operation in terms of rail transport for grain in WA.

This has flowed into other parts of the value chain for grain export markets.

"CBH sought to enter into exclusive dealing arrangements, CBH owns most of the storage and they sought to insist that anyone using their storage had to use their transport system," Sims told the hearing last week.

The WA Farmers Federation [WAFF] says 90 per cent of the state’s grain farmers support the CBH business, which is seen to deliver savings to each of its members.

"If you compare the freight and handling costs of the west compared to the [more expensive] east, you can see the difference and it's getting wider every year," chairman of the WAFF’s grain section Kim Simpson told the ABC.

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