Finding the election policy sweet spots
CANEGROWERS is committed to work constructively with the government the people of Queensland elect on Saturday aiming to strengthen the sugarcane industry and secure the economic benefits that flow from it to our regional communities.
During the campaign, CANEGROWERS has urged the political parties to commit to actions including cutting electricity prices, maintaining grower choice and competition in sugar marketing and supporting environmental sustainability programs without regulating farm practices. They are detailed in the CANEGROWERS issues and actions brochure.
CEO Dan Galligan wrote to the parties listing the issues and actions important to members in this campaign and across the cane growing districts, CANEGROWERS staff and elected representatives contacted local candidates.
A summary table and the responses to the CEO are on the CANEGROWERS website.
Grower choice and competition
CANEGROWERS welcomes the strong support of many State Election candidates for grower choice and competition in sugar marketing services but has been disappointed by one of the major parties.
“The Liberal National Party, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, Katter’s Australian Party and Greens candidates along with a number of independents have replied to our letters, emails or questions committing to maintaining the anti-monopoly protections in the Sugar Industry Act,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said.
“However, our approaches have resulted in the Australian Labor Party, which opposed the amendments in the Queensland Parliament in 2015, saying it supported commercial outcomes in the sugar industry.”
The party failed to clarify what an ALP government’s plans might be in relation to the legislation and growers are fearful there will be a move to repeal it.
“CANEGROWERS also supports commercial outcomes and the legislation does not stand in their way,” Mr Galligan said.
“Our members need the safety net of the legislation in place to ensure they are not strong-armed by milling companies which hold a monopoly for cane processing in their district. The legislation also protects growers against millers again trying to seize monopoly control of sugar marketing services.
“As the producers of the crop that is the backbone of Queensland’s $2.5 billion sugar export industry, and having been identified as important feedstock suppliers for the expansion of the state’s biofuels industry, we are very disappointed.”
CANEGROWERS looks forward to continuing its proactive engagement with government as a partner to securing water quality outcomes for the Great Barrier Reef.
“We are confident that there is support for Smartcane BMP, the industry’s best practices program, from both the ALP and the LNP,” Mr Galligan said. “This support is welcome as Smartcane BMP is delivering results for sustainability, productivity and profitability in the industry.
“A key difference though is the commitment of the ALP to expand the regulation of farm practices within reef catchment areas - as an industry we do not believe minimum standards are the best way to secure lasting practice change on farms and ongoing innovation toward water quality benefits for the Great Barrier Reef.”
CANEGROWERS has been heartened by the attention paid to high electricity prices during this campaign – it is an situation hurting households and businesses and it cannot continue.
“While we welcome commitments to invest in energy efficient technologies, the underlying reasons for the high cost impost must also be addressed,” Mr Galligan said.
“All parties, responding to the overwhelming pressure from the electorate, have put forward policies which look capable of putting some downward pressure on prices, which is a step towards the result we need to maintain Queensland’s international competitiveness.
“We will be holding the parties to account, expecting to see results from their various commitments.”