Dawson MP George Christensen with Canegrowers Burdekin chairman Phil Murano.
Dawson MP George Christensen with Canegrowers Burdekin chairman Phil Murano.

Sugar code to stay boosting confidence

NORTH Queensland cane growers have been given much-needed certainty with the Federal Government announcing it will keep the Sugar Code of Conduct in place.

About 60 submissions into the review were received by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources - with growers in favour of keeping the code.

The code was introduced in 2017 to regulate the conduct of growers, mill owners and marketers in relation to cane supply or the on-supply of sugar. It also allowed growers to choose who they sold their sugar to - a hugely contentious issue for many growers.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud will today join Dawson MP George Christensen, who pushed for the code, to announce it will stay in place.

"The code came about to give sugar cane growers, millers and marketers certainty to just get on with the job and I'm happy to say it's here to stay," Mr Christensen said.

"Queensland is the powerhouse of the Australian sugar industry and produces 95 per cent of all sugar. If the sugar industry is strong Queensland is strong."

Although growers were expected to be happy with the announcement, millers were against keeping the code.

In its submission, the Australian Sugar Milling Council which represents companies like Wilmar, said the code should be repealed.

"The Sugar Code of Conduct has added uncertainty, complexity and cost to sugar industry operations. It has deterred investment, and undermined competitiveness," its submission said.

"Unless repealed, the code will continue to limit investment, innovation and growth, and negatively impact the economic and social contribution of Australia's second largest agricultural export industry."

The review will lead to some changes to the code. This includes an amendment to make it clear that pre-contractual arbitration only applies to raw sugar and not to any other products from sugar cane. Another review will be done into the code in four years to see if it is still needed.

Burdekin MP Dale Last said he was pleased with the announcement as the Burdekin community was reliant on the sugar industry.

"It is important that the code of conduct remains in place to give our farmers that certainty," he said.

 

 

TIMELINE

April 2014: The actions of foreign miller Wilmar in moving to exit century-old sugar marketing arrangements with Queensland Sugar Limited are labelled a bastard act by George Christensen . He said he would be "lobbying for a legislative instrument to

protect growers' economic interest in their own sugar".

December 2014: LNP Government sets up a taskforce to oversee the introduction of a code of conduct for the sugar industry.

February 2015: Sugar taskforce calls for submissions from farmers, grower organisations and millers.

June 2015: Taskforce recommends Sugar Code of Conduct.

March 29, 2017: A mandatory Code of Conduct for the sugar industry announced.

July 2018: Mr Christensen pushes for sugar Code of Conduct review to be brought

forward by about nine months to give growers peace of mind, as there were industry

concerns that a two-year review would clash with an election.

December 2018: Review complete. Sugar Marketing Code of Conduct will continue for four years.