20 January 2015
Agriculture Minister John McVeigh has promised canegrowers a re-elected Newman LNP Government will legislate to protect ‘grower choice’ in sugar marketing if millers fail to come up with fair deal.
Speaking during a round of canegrower meetings in north Queensland, Mr McVeigh said the Newman LNP Government was fair dinkum about protecting the interests of canegrowers.
“We’re upping the ante,” Mr McVeigh said.
“If the millers refuse to come to table, we will legislate.”
Mr McVeigh said he had listened to canegrowers, their leaders and discussed the matter with the Premier overnight.
“The Premier is right behind this and the major millers, Wilmar, Tully and MSF, need to realise that we as a government are ready to come down hard if they fail to come up with a marketing deal that’s fair for canegrowers.
“I’m sending a very clear message on behalf of the Newman LNP Government to the sugar millers,” Mr McVeigh said.
“It is good public policy to support canegrowers from any misuse of monopoly power by millers.
“They should not doubt our determination to resolve this impasse and it has to be sorted out before the start of the next crushing season – or we will legislate.
“I am calling on the three major companies to come back to the negotiating table and start dealing fairly with the growers that supply their mills.
“The issue of grower choice in sugar marketing needs to be resolved. It’s been dragging on for the best part of a year, but industry has made little progress.”
The Newman LNP Government stepped in six months to help resolve the commercial dispute – referring the issue for review by the Agriculture Cabinet Committee (ACC), led by Minister McVeigh.
The review was due for completion in February, after which recommendations would have been taken to Cabinet.
But Mr McVeigh said the timing of election meant that industry needed to know now exactly where the Newman LNP Government stood.
“Today, with the full backing of the Premier, I’ve made our position absolutely clear,” he said.
Media contact: Louise Gillis 0407 394 580