THE KAP has hit back at the Agriculture Minister’s ignorant comments on the issues faced by sugar growers in North Queensland.
Once again taking the opportunity to slam the Sugar Industry Marketing Bill, which has strong support of growers and the Opposition, Minister Byrne showed a clear lack of understanding and compassion.
“The reality is the only ones complaining about the legislation is Bill Byrne and Wilmar,” Member for Dalrymple Shane Knuth said.
“The KAP Sugar Industry (Real Choice in Marketing) Amendment Bill hardly changed anything, it actually supports the industry more than the previous legislation giving growers a choice whether they want the mills to market their sugar or Queensland Sugar Limited.
Mr Knuth pointed out the success of some 350 growers with MSF who have already secured a contract with the marketers of their choice.
“These large millers are sulking because they haven’t gotten their way by taking these farmers for all they are worth,” Mr Knuth said.
“I have grave hopes for Queensland if our own Agricultural Minister can’t recognise a market monopoly when he sees one,” he said.
The KAP who secured passage of the private members bill through Parliament last year said the initiative to ensure a fair playing field was present between growers and millers.
“If we follow the Ministers suggestion and had all agreements through commercial means, you would see the millers with the more funds, and the better lawyers win every time,” Member for Mount Isa Rob Katter said.
“Cane growers simply didn’t have the opportunity to get up and sell elsewhere, as the Minister should well know.
“Instead the previous condition of the market meant the processor wasn’t only the miller, they were also the marketer, they essentially controlled the whole supply chain – clearly an unfair situation.
“Now with the work of the KAP, growers have the opportunity to go through arbitration to ensure they get a fair deal .
Mr Katter who has labelled Minister Byrne a blatant free marketeer laid the blame of the deregulation of the sugar industry square at the feet of the ALP.
“The only problem with Government interference was when the ALP Government stepped in to deregulate the sugar industry in 2006,” Mr Katter said.
“We have already seen examples of growers being forced into commercial arrangements that are unsustainable all because they felt they had no other choice.
“The calls by the minister are simply a cop out, no comments by anyone other than a cane grower should be worth his time, especially not the Profitability Commission who has a history of letting the industry down ” he said.