Singapore-owned Wilmar Sugar refuses to pay cane growers fair price.
Thanks to the Liberal National Party cane farmers cannot go to arbitration because the LNP removed the clause from Shane Knuth’s bill.
19 February 2017: KAP Federal Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter and State Member for Dalrymple, Shane Knuth MP today, in the Burdekin town of Ayr, attended a meeting with cane farmers to end the sugar marketing stalemate with Singaporean based company Wilmar.
In 2015 Mr Knuth introduced into the QLD Parliament the Sugar Industry (Real Choice in Marketing) Amendment Act 2015 giving an estimated 4,500 cane growing families choice in who they market with – the Bill passed with the support of the LNP and Independent Member for Cook. It was the second KAP Private Members Bill to become legislation and came within 24 hours of passing the ethanol mandate.
“The outcome of the meeting today still does not give clarity because there is no manoeuvre by the Federal Government to introduce a Code of Conduct,” Mr Knuth said.
“The numbers in the QLD Parliament have not been secured by the LNP, as yet, to get any amendments to the sugar marketing legislation. But as I did in the past when we drafted this legislation – working with the LNP and Canegrowers – we will be doing the same to ensure effective changes can take place,” Mr Knuth pledged.
Mr Katter whose electorate of Kennedy is highly reliant on sugar, was critical of the LNP for removing the final arbitration from the KAP legislation.
“The State representatives who were there today – we are only in this hole, without any cane supply agreements (no contracts between farmers and millers), because the LNP took out the clauses for final arbitration – where the referees decision is final. That was in there and the LNP took it out. We didn’t have the numbers without the LNP so it had to go through QLD Parliament without that clause,” Mr Katter said.
“With all of the QLD State LNP seats now in serious doubt and vulnerable to attacks from KAP and PHON, we might be able to get the QLD State LNP more scared of us than their corporate masters.
“George Christensen has crossed the floor on ethanol. His crossing the floor on ethanol was an act of very great courage and I think he has played a key role in convincing the Feds to stop them from intervening and overturning the sugar marketing legislation.
“The LNP today says ‘we believe in a competitive market and when it doesn’t work we intervene’. Fancy saying that when they (the LNP) introduced the deregulation.
“Statements about ‘we believe in competition setting the market price’. What an appalling statement! Do you believe the market sets the price of milk with only two buyers in there? Or the price of apples, bananas, oranges or sugar?
“The two giant supermarket chains set the market price. Sugar has a 400% mark-up on the price for refined sugar that the industry gets paid.
“Our second underlying problem is the world sugar market price is set by Brazil and they have over the last 16-17 years received $420 a tonne, and I doubt whether we have got $360 a tonne. We can’t survive on $360 a tonne average price.
“George Christensen no doubt was instrumental in getting the Deputy Prime Minister to stop any intervention from Canberra to overturn the Sugar Marketing legislation. Farmers and every worker in Australia should be entitled to arbitration. Thanks to KAP for introducing the legislation, at least one industry now has arbitration.
“We thank the Deputy Prime Minister for listening to George Christensen on this issue,” Mr Katter ended.