The ink was barely dry on Barnaby Joyce’s new mandatory code on bulk wheat terminal access before the ACCC granted GrainCorp an exemption in the Newcastle port zone.

The decision is appropriate and as correct as it was predictable and inevitable. More port zones on the east coast will surely follow.

Thanks to Barnaby Joyce’s decision to exempt CBH in Kwinana by ministerial decree, we now have regulation on the east coast where competition is strong and growing, and no regulation on the west coast where there is next to no competition.

And given further exemptions will surely come on the east coast, we now face the very real prospect that the code will cover very few players outside South Australia.

That’s bad news for South Australia, bad news for Australia’s growers and bad news for Australia’s international competitiveness.

Stuck between his warring east and west coast MPs, Barnaby Joyce found a political fix.  But who will fix the consequences?

The Abbott Government has made two changes to the former Labor Government’s plan. First, it has exempted the country’s largest monopoly.  Second, it has removed the sunset clause meaning there is no clear path to full deregulation.

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