Angry cane growers from around the state will travel to Brisbane this week to confront the owner of the Queensland’s sugar terminals over its plans to become an unregulated monopoly asset owner/operator.

Queensland’s farmers have long trusted the operations of the bulk sugar terminals to the industry-owned not-for-profit Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL). However, earlier this year STL announced, without consultation or support from industry and its grower shareholders, that it would attempt to terminate these arrangements, and seek to take to take a stranglehold over these vital pieces of infrastructure.

Bulk Sugar Terminal Working Group Chairman Don Murday said growers around the state had united against the plan, which they say leaves them at the mercy of an asset owner focused on maximizing shareholder profits rather than supporting the Queensland sugar industry.

“Since the terminals’ inception, QSL and its predecessor have managed the terminals on behalf of industry on a cost-recovery basis only, meaning they don’t extract a profit or margin from this service, helping to minimise operating costs for the cane growers and sugar millers using them,” he said.

“In contrast, STL is a listed company primarily focused on profits for its shareholders, rather than the best interests of our state’s sugar industry, but we have nowhere else to go for these services.

“Queensland’s multi-billion-dollar Queensland raw sugar export industry is completely reliant on these monopoly assets, and so we’re fish in a barrel. The only safeguard we have is oversight provided by our industry not-for-profit operating these facilities to minimise costs and ensuring that there is agreement with STL on budgets, expenditure and operating plans.”

Mr Murday dismissed STL claims that the insourcing move would reduce costs. “Let’s not pretend that insourcing is some kind of cost-saving initiative. STL has already increased their storage and handling costs by 41% since 2018 while QSL has operated the terminals under a flat budget during that time and the amount of sugar passing through the terminals has fallen. It’s not hard to see what’s going to happen when STL takes over operations as well.”

“There was no industry consultation prior to this insourcing announcement and STL has refused requests to meet with us or to hold their AGM in a region where their grower shareholders could easily attend, so we’ve had to travel to Brisbane to share our concerns.

“It’s appalling corporate behaviour on every level, but if they think that they can patronise us and tell us it is for the best without engaging with their grower shareholders and presenting a compelling business case, they are mistaken.”

The STL AGM will be held at level 28 of the Riparian Plaza, Brisbane, at 2pm Wednesday 22 November 2023.

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Media Contacts

ACFA: Don Murday 0418 774 499

Kalagro: Robert Malaponte 0419 640 523

QCAR: Christian Lago 0414 421 723

Bundaberg Sugar: Guy Basile 0418 887 399

Agforce Cane Ltd: Russell Hall 0427 827212