Call to back the sugar code
ISIS cane growers are calling on Queensland's 12 senators to vote against a motion recently put forward by New South Wales senator David Leyonhjelm to disallow the Sugar Industry Code of Conduct which was introduced in April 2017.
The code came into effect in April to break a deadlock between sugar marketer Queensland Sugar Limited and miller Wilmar in a payment dispute affecting growers.
It includes provisions for mandatory arbitration when farmers and millers reach a stalemate in negotiations.
A disallowance motion to repeal the code was introduced in the Senate by New South Wales senator David Leyonhjelm, who said it imposed on free trade.
General manager of Canegrowers Isis Lloyd Taylor said the Senate was established as a "State's House,” to ensure that the interests of Queensland, its people and businesses, were represented, not any particular political party, its platform or interests.
"Surely then it is incumbent on all senators - Labor, Greens, One Nation and the LNP elected from Queensland to stand up and protect the 4500 small businesses which are the backbone of the Australia's $2.5 billion sugar industry, and to be held to account for their actions,” Mr Taylor said
"It is hard to imagine that a NSW senator, with no links to the Queensland sugar industry and who has made no effort to meet Queensland industry leaders can seek to destroy a Code of Conduct designed to facilitate a level negotiating playing field between milling corporations, many foreign-controlled, geographic monopolies and small family businesses that have no choice in where their product is processed.
"If our senator and the political parties they represent do not vote against this motion, they and the parties they represent need to be held to account at the forthcoming state and federal elections for they will have shown that they truly do not represent Queensland.”
The Federal Government established the code after a three-year protracted dispute between growers and Wilmar Sugar.
Mr Taylor said if Queensland Labor, LNP, One Nation and Green senators do not vote to defeat the motion they will be putting at risk a very significant agricultural industry.
He said it would put thousands of Australian farming families at the mercy of foreign-owned millers.
"They also put at risk the economies of many regional cities and towns from Maryborough to Mossman through job losses and financial hardship,” he said.
"It is unfortunate that the current Queensland Government has been silent on this issue and that it has not used its influence to ensure Queensland Senators vote in the state's interest.”
He urged all Queenslanders to lobby politicians for support.