A SUGAR INDUSTRY Code of Conduct — described as ‘minimalist’ by Scott Morrison — will be introduced into Federal Parliament as early as next week following a long-running dispute between sugar marketer QSL and mill owner and sugar manufacturer, Wilmar.
The decision was announced last night by Federal Treasurer, Scott Morrison, and Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce — and heartily welcomed by Nationals backbencher George Christensen, who has previously threatened to quit the Coalition.
In the wake of the devastation of sugar crops, especially in the Proserpine and Mackey regions, Mr Christensen says “a code of conduct is fantastic for cane growers mopping up from Cyclone Debbie.”
He added: “More importantly, it’s that all growers in North Queensland, including those affected by the cyclone, are content with it.
“They’ve all been very welcoming of that last night,” he told ABC radio last night (Thursday), after flying back into his electorate of Dawson.
“It’s high time we have that — it’s fantastic news as far as I’m concerned.”
Treasurer Morrison announced the code will be introduced by regulation next week and will come into force the day after.
He said it would ensure grower choice in marketing, and that all parties had access to arbitration and mediation.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said he would have preferred it if QSL and Wilmar had worked out a solution themselves.
“They’ve always known we had a code of conduct in the top drawer and we’re going to utilise it,” he is reported as saying.
Mr Morrison noted that the Code of Conduct “would neither control prices nor re-regulate the industry.”
The code is expected to help the government secure key One Nation Senate votes for its 10-year company tax cuts package.
QSL on Monday afternoon received a draft on-supply agreement from Wilmar that could provide a breakthrough in a long-running dispute.
Wilmar and QSL have been unable to reach a new agreement to determine mill access and sugar prices, leaving about 1,500 farmers unable to crush their cane before the 2017 season.