Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, has called on the Federal Government to immediately implement the bipartisan and unanimous recommendation of the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs Committee* supporting the development of a sugar industry Code of Conduct.
Mr Cripps said 18 months after the Senate Committee handed down its report, the Federal Government had not progressed the development of a sugar industry Code of Conduct, despite the committee recommendation being unanimously supported by Senators from all parties.
“The Queensland Parliament has done its job, with LNP and crossbench MPs amending the Sugar Industry Act to provide growers choice in marketing and recognising grower economic interest – it’s time for the Federal Government to pull its weight with a Code of Conduct” said Mr Cripps.
“With less than six months before the commencement of the 2017 cane harvesting season, it is totally unacceptable for Wilmar and growers supplying their mills between Ingham and Mackay not to have a cane supply agreement in place – the dispute must be resolved” he said.
“There is nothing wrong with the Queensland legislation because every other milling company has already been able to reach an agreement with growers supplying their mills – therefore the problem must be between the parties involved in the negotiations in the Wilmar mill areas”.
“There is too much at stake for the Queensland sugar industry to allow this uncertainty to continue – the failure of the parties to negotiate a supply agreement means it is now clear this process needs to be guided by a formal Code of Conduct – they have brought this on themselves”.
“There is a draft Code of Conduct which was prepared by a Federal Taskforce in 2015 and the Senate Committee has suggested it may provide a foundation upon which a statutory Code of Conduct could be established, so the Federal Government could move quickly on this”.
“The absence of an agreement between Wilmar and cane growers has serious ramifications for the local communities involved – such as the Herbert River district in the Hinchinbrook electorate – from mill employees to harvester contractors and many others servicing the industry”.
Mr Cripps said he would be lobbying Federal MPs and Senators on this issue and support the correspondence from Queensland LNP Shadow Agriculture Minister to the Prime Minister, calling on the Federal Government to immediately implement a sugar industry Code of Conduct.