DELEGATES TO the State Council meeting of the LNP have called on the Federal Government to urgently implement a sugar industry Code of Conduct.
The urgency resolution — moved by Shadow Northern Development Minister, Andrew Cripps, and seconded by Shadow Agriculture Minister, Dale Last — was supported at the LNP State Council meeting in Cairns on Sunday, March 19.
Mr Cripps said the LNP was calling on the Federal Government to take action after the Palaszczuk Labor Government and crossbench MPs in Queensland rejected efforts by the Opposition to deliver a resolution to the current sugar industry dispute.
“The LNP has delivered grower choice in marketing and formally recognised grower economic interest, but our efforts to provide a dispute resolution process have not been successful,” Mr Cripps said.
“It’s time for the Federal Government to pull its weight and deliver a Code of Conduct.
“With less than three months before the start of the 2017 cane harvesting season, it is totally unacceptable for Wilmar and growers supplying their mills between Ingham and Sarina not to have a cane supply agreement in place — this dispute must be resolved.”
Mr Cripps said more than 18 months after the Senate Committee handed down its report, the Federal Government had not progressed the development of a sugar industry Code of Conduct despite the committee recommendation being unanimously supported by Senators from all parties.
Shadow Agriculture Minister Dale Last said there was too much at stake for the sugar industry to allow the uncertainty to continue.
“The failure of the parties to negotiate a supply agreement means it is now clear the process needs to be guided by a formal Code of Conduct,” Mr Last said.
“There is a draft Code which was prepared by a Federal Taskforce in 2015, and the Senate Committee has suggested it may provide a foundation upon which a statutory Code of Conduct could be established, so the Federal Government could move quickly on this.
“The absence of an agreement between Wilmar and cane growers has serious ramifications for the local communities involved — including the Herbert, Burdekin and Central growing districts — from mill employees to harvester contractors and many others servicing the industry.”
LNP Senator Barry O’Sullivan, a member of the Senate committee that tabled the report with the unanimous and bipartisan recommendation, strongly supported the urgency resolution debated during the LNP State Council meeting to establish the Code of Conduct.