The Palaszczuk Labor Government has slashed funding to the Queensland sugar industry’s dedicated research and development organisation, Sugar Research Australia (SRA), leaving it struggling to respond effectively to serious productivity challenges.
Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, has condemned the Palaszczuk Government for reducing its annual contribution to SRA, at a time when the industry was battling to identify the cause of the mysterious and destructive Yellow Canopy Syndrome (YCS).
Mr Cripps said Labor had reduced the Queensland Government’s annual contribution to SRA in its recent state budget to a paltry $2.85 million, demonstrating a total lack of commitment to the sugar industry, regional jobs and local communities.
“As Shadow Agriculture Minister in 2012, I committed a future LNP Government to increasing the Queensland Government’s contribution to sugar industry research and development (R & D) by $1 million and we delivered on that commitment” said Mr Cripps.
“Now the Palaszczuk Government has slashed funding to the peak R & D organisation of one of Queensland’s most important agricultural industry’s – it’s absolutely disgraceful and the Agriculture Minister, Leanne Donaldson, should be ashamed of herself” he said.
Mr Cripps said for Labor to reduce funding to the SRA when the sugar industry was trying to deal with the impacts of YCS – which was causing hundreds of thousands of tonnes of damage to cane crops across Queensland – was unthinkable and unforgiveable.
“The quest to identify the cause of and find a solution to the problem facing the Queensland sugar industry with respect to YCS is a very real and current riddle that SRA is trying to solve and yet Minister Donaldson and the Palaszczuk Government is cutting support”.
“This is a threat to the whole sugar industry – farmers, harvesting contractors, millers and the towns that are built around them – if we suffer severe productivity losses, farmers earn less, the harvesting season is shorter and mills close, it’s as simple as that”.
Mr Cripps called on Agriculture Minister, Leanne Donaldson, to explain how the Palaszczuk Government could slash funding to the top R & D organisation of one of Queensland’s most important agricultural commodities, while that industry was facing a crisis.