Sugar Code must be retained: Dametto

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto believes the Federal Sugar Code of Conduct must be retained.

HINCHINBROOK MP Nick Dametto has called on the Federal Coalition Government not to abandon cane farmers in the North and retain the Sugar Code of Conduct currently under review.

A final report on the Code of Conduct was submitted earlier this month to Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, who will make the decision on whether or not it should be retained.

The Code not only “regulates the conduct of growers, mill owners and marketers in relation to contracts or agreements for the supply of cane or the on supply of sugar”, but also seeks to “ensure that supply contracts between growers and mill owners guarantee a grower’s choice of the marketing entity for the sale of sugar, for which the grower bears the price exposure risk”.

Mr Dametto, who himself made a submission to the Code of Conduct Review in August, said it was vital it remained in place to ensure a level playing field between growers, millers and marketers.

“We’ve got to remember that the sugar industry is the largest employer in the Herbert River District, generating hundreds of direct jobs and is worth more than $300 million a year to the area. The District now produces more than five million tonnes of cane, which in turn is capable of producing about 700,000 tonnes of sugar annually during a normal season, in addition to molasses and bagasse production,” he said.

“It’s critical there are good working relationships between growers, millers and marketers that ensures a fair and equitable financial arrangement for all.”

The Federal Code strengthens existing Queensland Government legislation, guaranteeing a grower choice in how they market their sugar.

“Discussions between my office and representatives from industry bodies Canegrowers Hebert River and the Australian Sugar Cane Farmers Association indicate there is a strong desire to retain the existing Code of Conduct, which was only introduced in April 2017,” Mr Dametto said.

“Retaining the Code of Conduct would give it more time to stabilise the industry and ensure a level playing field for all growers, millers and marketers to operate in.”

However, Mr Dametto said there was still room for improving the Code, believing there would be benefit in making provisions for growers to negotiate value adding of their cane crop to millers and marketers instead of focusing entirely on the value of raw sugar.

“There have been examples of growers making a small profit from sugar-derived molasses and this proposal is worth considering to ensure a fairer price for the entire cane crop,” he said.

“By strengthening the existing Code of Conduct, I believe it will ensure future growth and prosperity of a key industry in Hinchinbrook for decades to come.”

The Code of Conduct will remain in place until a decision is made by Minister Littleproud.

Nick Dametto MP