Northern sweet hearts KAP Member for Dalrymple Shane Knuth and Member for Mount Isa Rob Katter have today secured a future for choice in marketing for Queensland sugar producers with the Queensland Sugar Industry (Real Choice in Marketing) Amendment Act 2015.
The bill, only the eighth private member bill to pass through Queensland parliament since the state’s formation has ensured a choice in who markets the product of sugar cane producers, a huge win for many farming dependent communities.
“This bill was the opportunity to support what was right, to support the farmers and support competition,” Mr Knuth said.
“I am encouraged by the support of Independent member for Cook, Billy Gordon, and the Opposition on this bill.”
“Having a miller decide the sales price for the farmer is like a mining company deciding the wage for a worker- you need a representative,” he said.
Mr Knuth said it was important to recognise the Real Choice in Marketing did not “re-regulate’ the industry, it instead maintained an option for sugar cane producers to market their product under Queensland Sugar Limited or market with mills and provides access to arbitration.
An option which Millers threatened to withdraw from in 2017.
“The principals of the bill are competition, and advocate choice, that right was protected,” Mr Knuth said.
“There has been no market failure because at the moment we are under a system which works.”
“This isn’t just a win for KAP, it’s a win for all of Queensland,” he said.
Member for Mount Isa Rob Katter said it should always be the role of government to support the 4400 cane farming families over large multinationals.
“All we have done tonight is ensure growers remain on a level playing field when dealing with mills,” Mr Katter said.
“We stepped in to maintain and preserve a status quo.”
“Time and time again there are people obsessed with keeping intervention out of the market place, here we were facing far too much market power in the favour of the miller’s,” he said.
“If the millers are smart they will ensure they keep their offers fair and competitive.”
Co-Chairman of Pioneer Cane Growers Allan Parker greatly acknowledges the work of the KAP and independent Billy Gordon in the formation and passing of this historic bill.
“I am ecstatic, we have all worked so hard for this; there will be celebrations in North Queensland tonight,” Mr Parker said.
“We have always recognised Willmar’s investment in the milling infrastructure, and it was never our position for the relationship between the growers and Willmar to become adversarial.”
“We are looking to Willmar International to move forward with us to cement a partnership,” he said.