Growers concerned over claim drop
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.