Grow­ers con­cerned over claim drop

Manjimup-Bridgetown Times - - Times News - Tari Jef­fers

POTATO grow­ers have ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment over the State Govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to drop the $5.8 mil­lion dam­ages claim against grower Tony Galati for al­legedly ex­ceed­ing his grow­ing quota in 2015 and 2016.

Be­fore the dereg­u­la­tion of the potato in­dus­try, Mr Galati and his com­pany Galati Nom­i­nees were ac­cused of ex­ceed­ing his quota three times un­der Potato Mar­ket­ing Cor­po­ra­tion reg­u­la­tions.

Pre­mier Mark McGowan con­firmed in Par­lia­ment this month that the State Govern­ment had dropped the dam­ages claim and, af­ter a ques­tion from War­ren Black­wood MLA Terry Red­man, said he had met with Mr Galati be­fore the State Elec­tion.

Pem­ber­ton potato grower Glen Ryan said he was dis­ap­pointed the le­gal process was not al­lowed to run its due course.

“Grow­ers don’t want vengeance, we want jus­tice and to see it go through the proper process,” he said.

Mr Ryan said grow­ers he had spo­ken to were feel­ing let down and frus­trated about the de­ci­sion.

Potato Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Si­mon Moltoni said he did not know what was more of­fen­sive, if Mr McGowan had in­ten­tion­ally or ac­ci­den­tally left grow­ers seek­ing dam­ages out of the ne­go­ti­a­tion process.

“It’s not a ne­go­ti­a­tion when only one side is in­volved in the deal,” he said.

“All le­gal costs were in­curred by grow­ers, it was not tax­payer funded.

“We would like to see le­gal process fol­low through to its nat­u­ral con­clu­sion, what­ever that may be.”

Mr Moltoni said be­fore the elec­tion, there was a le­gal process that “de­spite ef­forts”, was free from po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence.

“Now we’ve got a po­lit­i­cal process that, de­spite ef­forts, is free of le­gal pro­cesses,” he said.

Mr Red­man said he had been in sup­port of pur­su­ing that dam­ages ac­tion from the start.

“Once I knew the ac­tion was be­ing dropped, my in­ter­est was drawn,” he said.

“This had a $5 mil­lion im­pact on the com­mu­nity and po­ten­tially im­pacted a lot of grow­ers.”

Mr Red­man said he was not happy Mr Galati got a con­ces­sion, as over­grow­ing would sig­nif­i­cantly af­fected other grow­ers’ sales.

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