I usually associate Western Australia with mining (and sharks) and not with agriculture and certainly not with potatoes. I was accordingly,  a bit surprised when I recently came across the Marketing of Potatoes Act 1946 (WA) which regulates the sale of ware potatoes. A ware potato is an unprocessed, WA grown potato for which there are reasonable grounds for believing is to be sold for human consumption (s 5).

Section 22 makes it an offence (yes, a crime) to purchase or take delivery of more than 50kg of ware potatoes without complying with the Act. The Act says you are only allowed to sell or deliver potatoes to the Potato Marketing Corporation of Western Australia and its agents or with the relevant permit.

In the prosecution for this heinous crime, failure to produce to an inspector, the sales docket, delivery note or relevant consignment advice from the grower which contains the “prescribed information” is prima facie evidence of a contravention of the provisions of the Act. The maximum fine is $2000 for a first offence and $5000 for a subsequent one. In making a request for documents, the inspector must have had “reasonable cause to believe the person charged was in possession or control of a quantity of potatoes at a material time“.

Lest it be thought all this is a joke, it appears that there has been a long running dispute between the Galati family and the Potato Marketing Corporation in the courts of WA, including an application for an interlocutory injunction.

Adds a whole new dimension to the Wiggles song “Hot Potato” doesn’t it?

Creative commons acknowledgement for the photograph.

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