Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, says he is grateful to Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, for taking the time to hear the serious concerns of cane growers in the Herbert River and Tully districts, about the ongoing marketing dispute in the Queensland sugar industry.
Mr Cripps said well attended meetings with Barnaby Joyce in Ingham and Tully on Saturday saw many cane growers take the opportunity to come and express their views about the ongoing impasse that has created a high level of uncertainty in local communities.
“I was very pleased to host Barnaby, who is also the Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water, in the Hinchinbrook electorate and give the community the opportunity to let him know how they feel about the failure of Wilmar and QSL to reach an agreement” said Mr Cripps.
“It was also important for Barnaby to understand that while the current problem is impacting on cane growers supplying Wilmar mills, those supplying other mills across Queensland are looking on with great interest to see how it may impact them in the future” he said.
Mr Cripps said the Queensland LNP made it clear last week that unless QSL and Wilmar finalised an on-supply agreement before 28 February 2017, it would introduce a bill into the Queensland Parliament to amend the Sugar Industry Act, in a bid to end the uncertainty.
“Many cane growers attended the 2015 Senate Rural and Regional Affairs committee hearings which investigated this issue and there was a lot of interest in its unanimous and bipartisan recommendation supporting the development of a sugar industry Code of Conduct”.
“It was reassuring for cane growers, their families and small business people in the Herbert River and Tully districts to know the Deputy Prime Minister is aware of their issue and gave them some confidence to learn he was still involved in trying to find a solution”.
Mr Cripps said with the 2017 cane harvesting season fast approaching, it was important that Queensland’s ongoing sugar industry marketing dispute was resolved as soon as possible and he called on all parties to make an effort to reach fair and reasonable terms.