Agribusiness & Food

Mandatory code of conduct for sugar

Queensland’s sugar mills have produced more than two million tonnes of raw sugar this season, according to the Australian Sugar Milling Council (ASMC).

A mandatory code of conduct has been announced for the sugar industry by the Federal Government, in an effort to end an ongoing dispute between North Queensland canegrowers and international marketer Wilmar.

Wilmar and QSL, which represents canegrowers, have been at a stalemate in their payment dispute for some time.

The state Government and Opposition have been at odds over how to handle the dispute, which could take a serious toll on the sugar industry in the 2017 season, if not resolved.

After intervention calls from several Queensland ministers at the Federal level, treasurer Scott Morrison revealed the code of conduct last week.

“The draft Code of Conduct will ensure grower choice in marketing and that all parties have access to arbitration and mediation. It will provide certainty for the industry and assist in the prevention of future disputes,” Morrison said.

“Deputy Prime Minister [Barnaby Joyce] has consistently and publicly stated the Commonwealth Government would implement a code if necessary to provide certainty for the industry and he thanks local Coalition MPs George Christensen and Michelle Landry along with State LNP Leader Tim Nicholls for their work with cane growers and millers.”

Speaking with the ABC, Morrison said a draft agreement between QSL and Wilmar was with the former party at the moment.

“We’re confident they will be able to just continue to produce that document, ink it, and everything gets on,” he was quoted as saying.

“The cane gets cut, it gets crushed, it gets sold.”

But he said the Federal Government’s new code of conduct would “ensure that things get sorted”.

The move from the Coalition came after Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm made headlines with his criticism of Queensland sugar farmers, who he said have been propped up too many times by government funding.

“The sugar industry are the biggest pack of featherbedding bludging rent-seekers ever,” Leyonhjelm said.

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