Potato growers after state

Premier Mark McGowan said the state government had made their position clear on the potato issue. Image by Richard Polden.

Premier Mark McGowan said the state government had made their position clear on the potato issue. Image by Richard Polden.

Potato growers have now turned their attention to the state government to seek reimbursement for legal costs after the WA Premier stepped-in to stop a civil lawsuit against the spud king.

The Potato Growers Association of WA executive officer Simon Moltoni said given the Premier’s intervention to drop the damages case, it was only fair and just that the state reimbursed growers.

The call came after spud king Tony Galati admitted guilt in the Supreme Court to a contempt of court charge which related to an injunction ordering him to stop growing more potatoes than he was allowed to.

In court last week, Mr Galati was ordered to pay $200,000 in legal costs, and is also expected to receive a fine which is due to be handed down within the next seven days.

The contempt charge related to a legal fight Mr Galati lost in November 2015 to stop an injunction when the Supreme Court sided with the Potato Marketing Corporation.

In the civil case, potato growers tried to recoup $5.8 million in lost revenue which they claimed was caused by Mr Galati’s disregard of regulations which governed the industry at the time.

Mr Moltoni said any fines or penalties imposed by the court should be paid to the growers.

“The Premier should meet with growers directly and explain to them why he intervened. Making dumbed down comments via the media is not a satisfactory way to communicate with growers,” he said.

Mr McGowan said they had made their position clear time and time again and that growers were aware of their position on the issue.

“It would be premature to comment on where any of these costs may or may not be directed,” he said.

“Growers were given a $12 million structural adjustment package after the PMC was disbanded to help them through the regulation process, plus an extra $2 million for potato research.”

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