Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, said the LNP played a crucial role in the successful passage of legislation through State Parliament yesterday, which will provide choice and transparency to cane growers in future marketing arrangements in the Queensland sugar industry.
Mr Cripps said the Palaszczuk Labor Government yesterday suffered its first legislative defeat, after the Agriculture Minister, Bill Byrne, had spent the better part of the last three weeks attacking cane growers and the LNP with ridiculous statements about sovereign risk.
“The LNP has led negotiations involving grower organisations and the Katter Party to reach agreement on extensive amendments to the original bill, in light of an adverse report from the Agriculture and Environment Committee of the Queensland Parliament” said Mr Cripps.
“As I said during the debate last night – this is a complicated issue and to get to the bottom of it people need to understand the important differences between the sugar industry and other agricultural industries – including the concept of grower economic interest” he said.
“Not until their sugar is sold, usually on the world market, does the grower get paid, but they carry two-thirds of the risk despite not owning the sugar – this is the real ‘skin in the game’ that growers have after ownership of the cane transfers to the millers prior to processing”.
“This legislation is about growers being able to exercise choice in terms of who markets the sugar in which they have a real economic interest and ensuring that when that sugar is sold, growers are confident that transaction is occurring in a transparent fashion”.
Mr Cripps said the perishable nature of harvested sugarcane limited growers to selling their product to a single buyer, creating a natural monopoly situation and the amended legislation sought to offer growers a degree of choice and transparency with respect to that transaction.
“I represent a sugar seat in which foreign owned companies own four mills. Foreign investment has been a part of the Queensland sugar industry since it began. I recognise this investment and I acknowledge the jobs that these mills provide in communities that I represent”.
“The LNP made an election commitment that if no commercial agreement could be reached between growers and millers we would act – a significant period has elapsed since then and there has been no commercial agreement – therefore, we honoured our election commitment”.
“In recent weeks, the behaviour of the Minister for Agriculture, Bill Byrne, has been ungallant and unedifying. The biggest impediment to good faith negotiations between growers and millers in that time has been the juvenile and divisive interventions of the Minister for Agriculture”.