Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, says the Queensland LNP has moved to break the sugar marketing dispute deadlock between Wilmar and QSL by introducing amendments to the Sugar Industry Act, in accordance with its commitment to cane growers between Ingham and Sarina.
Mr Cripps said Leader of the Opposition, Tim Nicholls, would introduce the bill today and move that it be debated urgently this week, as a result of QSL and Wilmar failing to enter into an on-supply agreement by the deadline the LNP gave the two parties notice of two weeks ago.
“The Queensland LNP gave fair and reasonable notice to Wilmar and QSL and they have failed to finalise an on-supply agreement – I don’t know if one or both of those parties decided to call our bluff to see if we were fair dinkum or not, but that’s just blown up in their face” said Mr Cripps.
“The Queensland LNP took action in 2015, when we worked with the crossbenches to pass amendments to the Sugar Industry Act in relation to grower economic interest, choice in marketing and cane supply agreements, now we are acting again on on-supply agreements” he said.
“I gave a commitment to cane growers and their families at a large public meeting in Ingham on 18 February – that unless the matter was resolved the LNP would pursue this course of action – along with my LNP parliamentary colleagues, I am making good on that commitment today”.
“The amendments that the Queensland LNP will introduce today provide for a mechanism to resolve a dispute between a sugar milling company and a sugar marketer in relation to the terms of an on-supply agreement by way of arbitration – it provides some certainty to the industry”.
Mr Cripps said he was shocked by the indifference of the Palaszczuk Labor Government to the ongoing problems facing Queensland’s $2 billion sugar industry and disgusted by the hostility of Agriculture Minister, Bill Byrne, towards the concerns of cane growers and their families.
“The Palaszczuk Labor Government has undermined the position of cane growers and the local communities that depend on this industry and I have been shocked by the willingness of so-called Agriculture Minister, Bill Byrne, to do absolutely nothing to help resolve this problem”.
“The Queensland LNP has demonstrated that we have a team of local MPs that can work together to achieve important outcomes for the communities we represent and I’m proud the LNP has lead the way, kept our commitment to growers and exposed the fact Labor just doesn’t care”.
Mr Cripps said the new amendments would not impact on milling companies, cane growers or marketing entities that have already finalised cane supply and on-supply agreements under the Act, including the amendments passed by the Queensland Parliament in December 2015.