Federal Politics

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Revolt over wheat bill

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott faces a parliamentary revolt as soon as this week after the Western Australian Liberal Party council urged its members to break ranks and back a government bill to abolish the wheat export authority.

The resolution was carried 64 votes to 29 on Saturday despite speeches from frontbenchers Julie Bishop and Mathias Cormann urging West Australian Liberals to back their leader rather than the government.

Debate on the bill to abolish Wheat Exports Australia and the 22 cent per tonne levy it charges producers resumes in the House of Representatives today.

Mr Abbott said yesterday he understood that some in his party felt strongly about centralised wheat exports, but said West Australian wheat growers were "themselves divided".

"I respect the call of the West Australian state council, our lay party is perfectly entitled to pass resolutions," he told a Canberra press conference. "But in the end the policy of the Coalition is determined by the parliamentary party."

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