Elec­tion spurs cane grow­ers to seek more than prom­ises

Central and North Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - KEVIN BORG

THE Queens­land elec­tion was called on the week­end, bring­ing about a flurry of ac­tiv­ity and prom­ises from can­di­dates cam­paign­ing and hop­ing to lead the di­rec­tion of our state for the next four years.

The sugar in­dus­try, as a sig­nif­i­cant $2.5 bil­lion ex­port in­dus­try, is seek­ing com­mit­ments from the par­ties that will se­cure the liveli­hoods of all Queens­lan­ders who rely on the sugar in­dus­try di­rectly and in­di­rectly.

Ris­ing pro­duc­tion costs con­sis­tently place Aus­tralia’s sugar in­dus­try on a ra­zor’s edge when it comes to in­ter­na­tional com­pet­i­tive­ness.

Im­me­di­ate ac­tion on a long-term strat­egy to con­trol elec­tric­ity prices is needed to re­lieve crip­pling costs as this di­rectly im­pacts ir­ri­ga­tion and crop pro­duc­tion.

Specif­i­cally, we are urg­ing these par­ties to com­mit to cut elec­tric­ity prices by 33 per cent.

Main­tain grower choice in sugar mar­ket­ing: Our in­dus­try needs a com­pet­i­tive sugar mar­ket­ing en­vi­ron­ment and con­tin­u­ous de­vel­op­ment and im­prove­ment within the in­dus­try to pros­per and for grow­ers to con­fi­dently plan for the fu­ture. Af­ter a long, hard fight to se­cure grower rights and com­pe­ti­tion within sugar mar­ket­ing, we now need the next Queens­land govern­ment to en­sure grow­ers main­tain this ac­cess to a choice of sugar mar­ket­ing ser­vices.

To en­sure in­dus­try growth and se­cu­rity we need govern­ment to fund in­dus­try re­search and de­vel­op­ment, we need it to en­cour­age re­new­able en­ergy projects and to use and in­vest in ru­ral in­fra­struc­ture.

The en­vi­ron­ment all in­dus­tries and com­mu­ni­ties rely on has never been more im­por­tant, but poorly de­signed and im­ple­mented reg­u­la­tions en­sur­ing sus­tain­abil­ity will hurt our state’s farm busi­nesses, sti­fle in­no­va­tion and re­duce per­for­mance.

A re­spon­si­ble and proac­tive state govern­ment, in pri­ori­tis­ing the fu­ture of the Queens­land sugar in­dus­try, would re­move reg­u­la­tions on farm­ing prac­tices in Great Bar­rier Reef catch­ments and recog­nise Smart­cane BMP as the most en­dur­ing way for in­dus­try to meet its obli­ga­tions to im­prove wa­ter qual­ity.

The adop­tion of Smart­cane BMP among grow­ers is high, with 70 per cent of Queens­land’s cane area cur­rently bench­marked to the core wa­ter qual­ity mo­d­ules.

We are call­ing on the fu­ture state govern­ment to com­mit to $7.2M in fund­ing to Smart­cane BMP over the next four years to as­sist in­dus­try to sup­port the Great Bar­rier Reef wa­ter qual­ity tar­gets.

A govern­ment in tune with agri­cul­ture would also sta­bilise Queens­land’s veg­e­ta­tion man­age­ment frame­work, in­clud­ing pro­vi­sions for high value agri­cul­ture and high value ir­ri­gated agri­cul­tural land, self-as­sess­able clear­ing codes, and pro­vide in­cen­tives for proac­tive man­age­ment.

I urge Queens­lan­ders, and ev­ery­one in­volved in the sugar in­dus­try, to lis­ten se­ri­ously to the par­ties lead­ing into the State Elec­tion to as­sess their com­mit­ment to agri­cul­ture and its fu­ture in the state of Queens­land.

The sugar in­dus­try has in re­cent years faced un­prece­dented chal­lenges from sugar mar­ket­ing mo­nop­oly bat­tles threat­en­ing to throw grow­ers to the mercy of millers to ever-chang­ing po­lit­i­cally-driven en­vi­ron­men­tal rules, reg­u­la­tions and mon­i­tor­ing.

Queens­land can­not ad­vance pri­mary pro­duc­tion while at the same time sti­fling growth with over-reg­u­la­tion and de­bil­i­tat­ing re­stric­tions.

Take heed, and vote for the fu­ture of agri­cul­ture in this up­com­ing elec­tion.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

NOT JUST PROM­ISES: Grow­ers seek com­mit­ments from all par­ties this Queens­land elec­tion.

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