THE TWO MEN chairing the farmer lobby groups in charge of monitoring the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) have both said changes to the GRDC’s structure are necessary to improve the organisation’s efficiency, but have differing views on what the changes required are.
Andrew Weidemann, Grain Producers Australia (GPA) chairman, said he felt further deregulation of GRDC, which operates as a statutory body, was required.
“It needs to be updated, we have a deregulated grain market and regulated research, the Government made the choice to deregulate the market and I think now research should follow.”
Mr Weidemann said his organisation still supported transitioning the GRDC to an industry owned company (IOC).
“An IOC can be more nimble, it has more fluidness which can assist in being able to react to research priorities.”
“From a logistical perspective an IOC can own more than 50pc of its research assets too, rather than simply facilitating research.”
Mr Weidemann conceded winning ministerial approval for an IOC was unlikely in the short term, but said GPA would work on winning some concessions via exemptions within the Primary Industries and Energy Research and Development (PIERD) Act, such as happened in 2014.
“If the GRDC is going to remain a statutory body we want to see some changes to the PIERD act,” he said.
In contrast, John Eastburn, Grain Growers chairman, was less enthused regarding an IOC, saying in the current environment it was unlikely to win critical Government support.
“All change has to go through the Ag Minister and at present, given the status of other IOCs, such as Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), I would not expect them to favour such a change.”
Instead, he said alterations to the PIERD act were the best way to bring about positive change at the GRDC.
“I think PIERD act modifications could deliver the best outcomes at present.”