Push for sweet deal

Na­tion­als want TPP talks to treat sugar se­ri­ously

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

NA­TION­ALS MPs have threat­ened to cross the floor of fed­eral par­lia­ment if sugar gets a raw deal in the mas­sive Trans- Pa­cific Part­ner­ship trade agree­ment.

Six of the party’s Queens­land rep­re­sen­ta­tives have joined forces to say sugar must not be left out of the 12- coun­try trade deal.

“A to­ken deal for sugar in the TPP will not be suf­fi­cient,” Ge­orge Christensen, Michelle Landry, Keith Pitt, Ken O’Dowd and Sen­a­tor Matt Cana­van said in a joint state­ment yesterday.

“We could not in good con­science give sup­port to en­abling leg­is­la­tion for the TPP if it ig­nores one of the most im­por­tant in­dus­tries in our state.”

LNP Queens­land Sen­a­tor Barry O’Sul­li­van has sim­i­lar views.

Trade Min­is­ter An­drew Robb is in Hawaii this week for what is hoped to be the fi­nal round of talks on the deal.

He has pledged not to sign any agree­ment that doesn’t of­fer some­thing to Aus­tralian sugar cane farm­ers.

The in­dus­try wants greater ac­cess in par­tic­u­lar to US mar­kets, but the Amer­i­cans are hold­ing out.

The Na­tion­als group says a bet­ter deal on sugar is in the in­ter­ests of both coun­tries.

A suc­cess­ful deal for sugar is po­ten­tially a $ 100 mil­lion boost for the sugar in­dus­try.

Cane­grow­ers chair and Aus­tralian Sugar In­dus­try Al­liance spokesman Paul Schem­bri said the Na­tion­als had ac­knowl­edged the sugar in­dus­try had been ex­cluded in past trade deals.

“We think it’s time gov­ern­ments got se­ri­ous about en­sur­ing that sugar will be a sub­stan­tial ben­e­fi­ciary of this trade deal,” Mr Schem­bri said.

“For us, it’s the TPP or noth­ing. We want suc­cess­ful ac­cess.”

Mr Schem­bri said his ad­vice yesterday was that a full spec­trum of out­comes from in­ad­e­quate to mean­ing­ful ac­cess were pos­si­ble.

“I un­der­stand a TPP an­nounce­ment could be made as early as this week­end,” Mr Schem­bri said.

“We are ap­ply­ing as much lob­by­ing and in­flu­ence as we can.

“We have asked for an al­lo­ca­tion of 700,000 tonnes which we think is more than em­i­nently achiev­able.”

While the worth of any deal is sub­ject to sugar prices, a fig­ure of 700,000 tonnes would be worth more than $ 100 mil­lion to the Aus­tralian in­dus­try.

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