Su­gar de­ci­sion con­demned

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

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.

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