Think­ing the un­think­able

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - LOOKING BACK -

THE re­cent story of the Moss­man Cen­tral Mill is re­ally two sto­ries.

The first is that up­grades in re­cent years means it’s in pretty good nick and did a good job of the har­vest and crush last year.

But the sec­ond story is the re­ally big one -- the fact that Mackay Su­gar is strug­gling and needs to re­tire debt and raise cash. Re­cently, at the ad­vice of its busi­ness con­sul­tant Kid­der Wil­liams, it ap­proached lo­cal grow­ers to buy half the mill.

It went off like a bomb­shell around here, along with the idea of hit­ting grow­ers with a $2 a tonne levy (wip­ing out half their prof­its!).

it was an out­landish and un­her­alded propo­si­tion. Now, it seems, Mackay wants grow­ers to buy ALL the mill. But then . . .

Given a few weeks and a chance to talk to Mackay Su­gar, lo­cal grow­ers are con­tem­plat­ing the un­think­able.True, the farm­ers had been here at this very spot be­fore, and it didn’t turn out well.

De­spite the neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ence of own­ing the mill once be­fore, now they need to take it on and make it work, be­cause the al­ter­na­tives are dire. Bet­ter prob­a­bly to take on the vi­tal as­set, an in­te­gral part of the sup­ply chain, in its en­tirety than be half-hitched to the strug­gling for­tunes of Mackay Su­gar.

And who would agree to the $2 levy when it’s only go­ing to be spent on Mackay’s south­ern mills?

No, it’s bet­ter just to be shot of the whole thing.

And ob­vi­ously what’s hap­pened, with some grow­ers at least, is a re­al­i­sa­tion that the 128-year-old mill is ac­tu­ally at a his­toric cross­roads.

Why not be more for­ward look­ing? Em­brace new ideas and new tech­nol­ogy and write a new fu­ture for the mill and in­deed the whole com­mu­nity.

It’s a mod­ern way to go. The dis­trict is an en­ergy sink. Kilo­joules are piled high over our heads in fields of green.

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