National Party leader and Deputy PM Mark Vaile yesterday dumped AWB and signalled the wheat export monopoly isn’t long for this world either.

After being hairy-chested all year about maintaining the monopoly, Vaile has sunk it with feint support. After the highly emotional stories of the Great Depression that used to mark his allegiance to the single desk, Vaile has retreated to merely “insisting” growers will be broadly consulted about any changes to the international wheat marketing system.

The single desk is going the way of Vaile’s promise that sugar would be included in our free trade agreement with the United States.

Vaile’s faltering support came in the wake of yesterday’s AFR story that John Howard will remove AWB’s export veto power when he releases his response to the Cole inquiry’s inevitably damning report. On Saturday Alan Kohler outlined in the Smage how the reform will be done.

In the meantime, drought-effected farmers are voting with their crop by not selling it to AWB. Caroline Overton says in The Oz that less than 8% of harvested wheat has been earmarked for AWB.

And this morning AWB managed a last hurrah for its single desk by releasing a rather laughable report on the national pool. It looks like they can’t see the wheat for all the self-inflicted chaff.

Peter Fray

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