Potatos are quite the political… hot potato… if you’ll pardon the absurdly contrived pun.
For a bit of background about the battle between ‘Potato King’ Tony Galati and the West Australian Government, take a look at this ABC article from 2015:
The PMC [Potato Marketing Corporation – That’s right, a government potato industry regulator, in Australia, in 2015! – Topher] accuses Mr Galati of oversupplying the market, a claim that was also repeated by many growers when about 400 tonnes of potatoes were given away from the Spud Shed stores earlier this year.
Mr Galati had been ordered by the PMC to dispose of the potatoes, but opted to give them away through his store instead. [A brilliant move, IMO – Topher]
In its report tabled in State Parliament, the PMC said the oversupply issue was a significant reason behind a “challenging” 2014-15 season for growers.
“A substantial oversupply, largely by one grower, negatively [influenced] returns and distorted markets,” the report stated.
My favorite bit is how the Regulator, (a non-market participant whose job it is to distort markets by manipulating supply and pricing), accused a grower (a natural market participant) of distorting the markets. Can these people even hear themselves talk?
Well Tony Galati fought like few people know how these days, and won! The PMC was abolished at the end of 2016. Finally the WA potato growing market can enter the modern era and be freed from the ‘help’ of the government.
But governments, politicians, and regulators of all stripes hate nothing more than being reminded that they’re supposed to be serving, not bossing. Nothing gets under their skin more that someone saying they don’t need the government’s ‘help’, and being right. And all the might of the government will be brought to bear to punish anyone who steps far enough out of line… even if they were right and government was wrong.
So the Tony Galati saga enters it’s next chapter, with the WA Department of Agriculture picking up where the PMC left off by launching a lawsuit against Tony Galati for ‘damages’:
The Government is claiming damages, interest and costs against Mr Galati, and his company Galati Nominees for the alleged overgrowing. [Despite the fact that the body which set the growers quotas, the PMC, has now been abolished in what amounts to an admission that it was a bad thing, not a good thing! – Topher]
Mr Galati said the new legal action was a “kick in the guts”, and felt like a personal vendetta [no kidding – Topher] against him. He also said he would be making an appeal to the public to help him fund a defence of this latest legal stoush, because he could not afford to to do it personally.
“I have been fighting these bastards for 20 years,” he said.
“How this is helping the consumer or the industry is beyond me. I am dumbfounded the Government has chosen to take this on.
“With all the other issues the Government has, why would they continue this against me and my company when we employ 1500 people.
“This action puts those jobs at risk,” Mr Galati said.
That’s right ladies and gentlemen, never mind that he employs 1,500 people, or feeds hundreds of thousands of people… he (successfully) stood up to a stupid government department that should never have existed in the first place, and so he must be punished.
Well I’m not having it. This action by the WA Department of Agriculture needs to be mocked into oblivion. We need to make sure they hear such a chorus of mockery and laughter that they back out of the action in humiliation and never think about pulling a stunt like this again.
You can help make that happen. Here’s what the WA Department of Agriculture says about itself:
We aim to create a progressive, innovative and profitable agriculture and food sector that benefits Western Australia.
We support the success of our state’s agrifood businesses through services and partnerships that help increase industry profitability and sustainability, while safeguarding our state’s precious natural resources.
And when I find the link to help support Tony Galati to pay his legal costs for this absurd battle, I’ll update this post so you can help him win. In the meantime, share this far and wide, and get on Twitter and FB to let the WA Dep of Ag know just how stupid they look right now.