Sugar decision condemned
A MOVE by Wilmar Sugar Australia to exit their sugar marketing arrangements with Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL) has been described as “a bastard act” by Member for Dawson, George Christensen.
The operators of the Proserpine mill announced last week that they would establish their own marketing arm – a move Mr Christensen says could spell the end for QSL.
“I condemn Wilmar for making a decision like this without consultation with their farmers,” Mr Christensen said.
“It is not right for a multinational company that has only recently entered the Australian sugar market to make a unilateral decision to essentially strip sugar cane growers of their ability to determine their own future.”
Mr Christensen reminded Wilmar Sugar Australia of the events of 2011 when QSL forward-priced a considerable amount of sugar on behalf of Wilmar and QSL’s other mills, but due to unseasonal rain and crop destruction it could not be supplied.
“They forced that on growers by taking a cut out of their payments. Well they can’t have it both ways. When there’s a loss to wear, growers own the sugar, but when it comes to marketing, growers have no ownership at all, it’s Wilmar’s decision.
“This might be the way Wilmar does business in Asia, but that’s not the way we do business in Australia,” he said.
Wilmar’s executive general manager for North Queensland, John Pratt, defended the decision saying Wilmar aimed to create a genuine commercial partnership with growers and wanted to jointly develop the new marketing model. “We are keen to discuss the proposal in detail,” he said.
Grower consultation started on Tuesday with cane farmers from Proserpine travelling to Townsville for an initial meeting.
Meanwhile, Mr Christensen has vowed to take the strongest possible stand and will be actively lobbying for a legislative instrument to protect growers’ economic interests.