Feds must intervene in Mackay Sugar situation

Katter’s Australian Party has called out the Australian Government for relegating Queensland farmers to the role of being “servants subject to their foreign, feudal masters” following the proposed sale of Mackay Sugar to a German company in recent weeks.

State KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said the 70 per cent acquisition of Mackay Sugar by Nordzucker represented symptoms of the government’s refusal to be proactive in maintaining any national industry in critical agricultural assets.

“Mackay Sugar had a long tradition as an essentially grower-owned company and now it is going to be run out of Braunschweig in Germany,” he said.

“This needs to be recognised as a wake-up call for all governments that failing recapitalise failing asset that has been poorly managed with foreign money rather than empowering local interests to rebuild.

“We are unlikely to get any help from Labor in the State Government who are now introducing new Great Barrier Reef run-off laws to further run the industry into the ground, so therefore we are calling on the Federal Government to intervene.”

Mr Katter, who has been joined by KAP Federal Candidate for Dawson Brendan Bunyan in his calls, said he understood Mackay Sugar needed to be overhauled prior to any assistance.

“The main point here is another Australian-owned entity is being taken over by foreign interests and now around 70 per cent of future profits that formerly went back to the local economy will go off-shore,” he said.

“What the Nordzucker buyer brings to the table is simply access to capital – but our governments have access to cheap money and can provide a facility for a new board under the Australian-owned banner to retain ownership and retain
control over the destiny of all the farmers in the region.”

“What we want to desperately avoid is another situation like in the Burdekin and Ingham where you have large multi-national millers flexing their muscles and using price transfer across their businesses to suck all the profitability out of the farmers and put it into their own pockets.

“Conditions have deteriorated throughout the industry due to general malaise in economic policy since deregulation and farmers have been reduced to price-takers – they have no control and no say at all.

“At the end of the day it is not just farmers who will be hurt, a lack of local profitability will hit all economies that rely on the sugar industry.

“Less profitability for our farmers ultimately means less money through local tills, and you can bet the Mackay business community and economy is going to feel every inch of it.”

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