Senator caned on code
YOU have to wonder at the audacity of a senator from NSW launching a rearguard attack on the sugar industry’s 4000 cane farmers and seeking to insert himself into an issue which many, including myself, have fought long and hard to resolve.
I refer to Sydney- based Senator David Leyonhjelm, who has put up a motion in an attempt to stop the introduction of a sugar marketing code of conduct.
This code seeks to protect our cane farmers from the monopolistic and anticompetitive behaviour of a foreign- owned miller.
According to Senator Leyonhjelm ( TB, Sept 14) the claims of cane growers are anticompetitive and not legitimate. His helpful advice to growers is to do “everything possible to attract new entrants into milling” and to even invest their own money into doing so.
In previous ill- informed comments the good senator has also advised growers who don’t like the deal being offered by their miller to “hire a truck and send their crop 300 kilometres down the road”.
A week spent in North Queensland during the crush might give him a better understanding of the industry he seeks to denigrate, and I repeat my earlier suggestion that the senator talk to growers rather than attempt to dictate from afar what happens to them and their livelihoods.
Now let’s clear up a few key points. The code of conduct seeks to protect the right of growers to choose who markets their sugar.
Nowhere in Senator Leyonhjelm’s comments does he mention the other key player in this story and that is Queensland Sugar Limited ( QSL): the notfor- profit marketer of the industry’s sugar for the better part of a century.
Rather than the growers being anti- competitive, it has been Singapore- owned Wilmar who has sought to rob growers of the ability to continue the time- honoured arrangement of having QSL market their sugar. In Wilmar- owned mills, and most of them are in my electorate, growers were being forced to accept that a new Wilmar marketing arm would henceforth market their sugar, and the supply contracts which growers must have were stipulating it.
Though this directly affected about 1500 growers who supply to Wilmar mills, other millers were poised to take the same stance if Wilmar proved to be successful, so this was an issue