Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, says the LNP was acting in good faith and following through on its election commitment to protect ‘grower choice’ in sugar marketing arrangements if millers failed to negotiate a fair deal with growers, by moving to draft a Private Members Bill.
Mr Cripps said the LNP was the only political party that made its position on the question of sugar marketing arrangements clear during the state election campaign in January 2015, while others had only taken a more recent interest and Labor had shown no interest at all.
“My colleague and LNP Shadow Agriculture Minister, Deb Frecklington, has announced that the Opposition is preparing a Private Members Bill to introduce into the Queensland Parliament, aimed at making pro-competition amendments to the Sugar Industry Act” said Mr Cripps.
“Growers up and down the coast of Queensland, including in the Hinchinbrook electorate, have made very clear their strong views about this issue and the industry was warned by former Agriculture Minister, John McVeigh, that the LNP would take action if necessary” he said.
Mr Cripps said he had always maintained that the best outcome would be for the leadership of the industry, from both the growing and milling sectors, to come together and work out a fair and equitable commercial arrangement concerning the future marketing of sugar.
“I note grower and miller representatives are having ongoing conversations to try and reach an agreement – I welcome these discussions and I urge those involved to do everything possible to reach a fair and equitable outcome for the sake of the industry” said Mr Cripps.
“I also note that there are important investigations and consultations being undertaken by the Senate and the Abbott Government at present and while these are ongoing, it does not detract from the LNP’s determination to act at the state level, if we consider it necessary” he said.
Mr Cripps said he was amazed by the utter disinterest in the critical issue of sugar marketing by Labor Agriculture Minister, Bill Byrne, suggesting his lack of understanding about the significance of the situation should be a real concern for the sugar industry as a whole.