KAP legislation ensures sweeter deal for cane farmers

19 May 2015: KAP Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter has applauded sugar marketing legislation introduced into State Parliament today by KAP State Member for Dalrymple Shane Knuth and seconded by KAP State Member for Mount Isa Robbie Katter.

The Sugar Industry (Real Choice in Marketing) Amendment Bill 2015 will ensure cane farmers across Queensland have a choice in the marketing of their own product and retain existing market arrangements.

The legislation follows extensive consultation by Shane Knuth and Robbie Katter including community meetings held in Innisfail and Ingham in April and attended by leading cane growing groups Australian Cane Farmers Association and Canegrowers, peak ethanol industry body Biofuels Australia, the AWU, local farmers and community members.

The issue of sugar pricing has been on the agenda in Queensland since one of Queensland’s biggest sugar groups announced its intention to break away from the current independent marketing and pricing body, Queensland Sugar Limited. Farmers would be left no choice but to accept the price allocated.

Bob Katter said today that cane farmers had been left at the tender mercies of two giant foreign corporations for too long, one of them with a fairly malodorous record.

“The irrationality of people that advocate competition and free markets and then to please their corporate masters impose a monopoly on the farmers, it knows no bounds.

“This monopoly has resulted in cane farmers realising you can’t make money out of sugar cane, so we close a sugar mill in Australia every two years now.

“A sugar mill closure with flow on labour takes 1,000 jobs out of our communities, that’s 1,000 families fighting off bank repossession.

“The restoration of the farmer’s right to a decent income, the same as the employee receives through his award, must be restored.

“Otherwise over the next 20-30 years we will see the entire sugar industry shut down, an industry that is still the State’s biggest employer,” Mr Katter said.

Mr Katter also hit out at the LNP’s hypocrisy in seeking to introduce sugar marketing legislation only after its term in Government had expired.

“For an exercise in hypocrisy, the LNP will take some beating.

“They have had Federal government for 14 of the last 19 years – and I can’t say they did nothing, they did plenty – for one they took away the tariff protection, allowing the big foreign producers to take over.

“Thailand and Europe have traditionally subsidised sugar at an average of 70% and Brazil has a cross-subsidy from ethanol of over 25% , yet the free market eco-rats preach to us about level playing fields.

“The LNP when they had the numbers refused to let sugar marketing legislation even be discussed in the State Parliament, but when they haven’t got the numbers they’re racing within two months of a new Parliament to try and get in before the KAP makes fools of them.

“Their hypocrisy is not missed and for those farmers that continue to back them, well you’ve got to be really stupid,” Mr Katter said.

Legislation introducing a mandatory Code of Conduct for sugar marketing will be introduced by Mr Katter into the Federal Parliament during the winter sittings.