Cane farmers will be out in force this fortnight, driving home the importance of the Sugar Code of Conduct at public hearing being conducted by the federal government.
CANEGROWERS chairman Paul Schembri said the code had acted as a safety net, preventing mills from abusing their monopoly power when they negotiate with growers in each district.
“This is important for growers because the distance between mills and the perishable nature of sugarcane once its cut means growers can’t choose which milling company they supply their crop to,” Mr Schembri said.
“The code doesn’t impose any onerous or difficult conduct, It simply requires that in commercial negotiations, each party acts reasonably, fairly and honestly without intimidation.
“Importantly it provides for an arbitration mechanism if there’s a deadlock.”
The code doesn’t impose any onerous or difficult conduct, It simply requires that in commercial negotiations, each party acts reasonably, fairly and honestly without intimidation.
The code was introduced in April, 2017. It was strongly opposed by both the Australian Sugar Milling Council and the Palaszczuk government.
An attempt to repeal the code was made in October last year by NSW senator David Leyonhjelm, who said argued the code imposed on free trade. Senator Leyonhjelm’s motion was supported by federal Labor. However, the motion was defeated in the Senate by the Coalition with the support of One Nation and the Greens.
Mr Schembri said as well as addressing the imbalance of power that existed when growers and milling companies were negotiating, the code also supported competition in sugar marketing services by working in parallel with the Queensland Sugar Industry Act.
“The code’s mechanisms for certainty and security underpin grower confidence to continue to invest in our industry, to get on with the business of producing high quality export sugar for the global market and drive regional economies,” Mr Schembri said.
“We are calling for the code to remain in place for the long-term stability of our industry.
“CANEGROWERS members look forward to contributing to this review as the panel tours the sugarcane growing regions.”
A final report on the public hearings in expected to be handed to Agriculture Minister David Littleproud in December.