MP fears major Maryborough employer could be ‘doomed’
BRUCE Saunders fears a major Maryborough employer is "doomed" and is demanding answers from its owner.
The Maryborough MP spoke to the Chronicle after it was confirmed an Australian company was contracted to buy more than 5000 hectares of sugar cane farms in the region.
According to a statement from Rural Funds Management Limited, the company will buy the farms, with associated plant and equipment, along with 8060ML of water entitlements from MSF Sugar for $81.1 million.
It is understood the deal does not include the Maryborough Sugar Mill.
Mr Saunders said it was a positive that an Australian company had bought the land.
However, he was concerned about jobs at the sugar mill and wanted more clarity on what the future might hold for the mill.
Mr Saunders said with more information, the State Government and Federal Government would be able to assist workers and growers transition.
Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien hopes Maryborough's sugar mill will remain in operation.
"It's important to note that this land will now return to Australian ownership after being in Thai hands for several years, and I think a lot of people will welcome that," Mr O'Brien said.
"I have committed an $18 million lifeline from the Federal Liberal and Nationals Government for a water storage project in Maryborough to boost the local agriculture sector, and I would like to see the mill remain in operation."
The company plans to progressively convert the farms to about 2200 hectares of macadamia orchards, with much of the remaining area to be used for cropping.
Settlement is expected to happen in October.
"My primary concern is that the new owners ensure Maryborough farmers can continue to make a livelihood on their land," Mr O'Brien said.
"I look forward to meeting with the new Australian owners to discuss their future plans for the land, and what lies ahead for Maryborough's sugar industry."
The Chronicle contacted MSF Sugar about the future of the mill, but did not receive a response.