MPs push to change sugar industry laws

Sugar misses out in Trans Pacific Partnership deal
Sugar misses out in Trans Pacific Partnership deal Peter Holt

THERE is no legislation that requires sugar mills to act in the best interest of cane farmers, and this is something two Queensland politicians want to change.

Katter's Australian Party MPs Shane Knuth and Robbie Katter have sought to change Queensland law to allow canegrowers to have "real choice" over who sells and prices sugar.

Wilmar Sugar's exit from sugar marketing arrangements from the end of the 2016 season was a catalyst for the legislation changes.

Mr Knuth told Queensland Parliament on Tuesday that two other milling groups including MSF Sugar and Tully Sugar also announced their intentions to exit the current marketing structure following Wilmar's decision.

"That decision of the unilateral mills will deny growers any choice in how their share of production, their GEI (grower economic interest) sugar, is marketed in the future," Mr Knuth said.

"Unless addressed, those anticompetitive actions will restore the monopoly position of mills in the market for sugarcane, with ramifications across the whole industry.

"All milling companies and their supplying growers will be affected, including those that have elected not to withdraw from the marketing structures."

When addressing parliament, Mr Knuth said the Sugar Industry (Real Choice and Marketing) Amendment would provide growers with the ability to be involved proactively in the marketing of their own sugar.

In a statement, Mr Knuth said he looked forward to the Parliament's support.

"We are sitting just behind Brazil and Thailand as the world's third largest sugar producers and now isn't the time for politicians to sit on their hands - the industry called for assistance, and we have delivered what they need," he said.

The amendment bill has been referred to the Agriculture and Environment Committee.

Topics:  cane farming resource sugar sugar cane sugar industry

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