CANEGROWERS has an eight-point plan for the parties contesting the 2020 Queensland Election.
It's a plan that will help us to grow a sustainable, profitable and productive future for our businesses, our communities and our state because for every $1 spent growing sugarcane in Queensland, $6.42 of activity is generated in the economy. Read the plan below and see how you can help.
The first steps in the plan remove the obstacles holding us back:
1. Reduce the cost of power and water to drive productivity and profitability
Electricity bills paid by farmers have risen 130% since 2006-07. Irrigators have been excluded from recent price reductions for small business and households. High water and electricity costs discourage irrigation and constrain productivity which affects regional economies, mill viability and international competitiveness. Current tariff structures deliver huge profits to energy companies and the Queensland Government.
- Introduce a suite of agricultural electricity tariffs capped at 16c/kWh.
- Write down Ergon’s regulatory asset base by 40%.
- Allow retail competition in regional Queensland.
- Remove solar feed in as a network charge.
- Commit to lower bound irrigation water pricing.
2. Cut red tape on farming which doesn’t help the Great Barrier Reef
The 2019 expansion of reef regulations is unnecessary and intrusive with no guarantee of water quality improvement. Related targets for industry are excessive and not evidence-based. CANEGROWERS analysis shows the current underlying intent of a 30% cut to nitrogen use will cost the state economy $1.3 billion over the next decade. Confidence needs to be restored in the scientific evidence used to justify policy.
- Repeal 2019 reef legislation and regulations.
- Make water quality plans and programs realistic and credible.
- Overhaul the system that manages and scrutinises water quality research used to justify regulations.
3. Remove roadblocks to disaster preparedness
Cane growers are resilient and productive in the face of natural disasters including cyclones, floods and drought. However, insurance for the cane regions is becoming prohibitive and leaves growers vulnerable.
- Remove Queensland Government stamp duty from insurance premiums.
- Support the development of and underwrite affordable index-based disaster insurance.
- Provide assistance for the development of individual risk management plans.
The next steps unleash our potential:
4. Build a diversified industry for regional economic growth
Sugarcane growers produce around 30 million tonnes of a renewable resource every year.
- Support the development of electricity generation and manufacturing of bio-products from renewable sugarcane.
5. Back our commitment to environmental responsibility
Our best management practice program Smartcane BMP is securing our international credentials to meet market demands for sustainable sugar.
- Commit resources and policy to continue the program’s work with growers.
6. Invest in a future agricultural workforce
- Fund agricultural education in schools to showcase a diversity of roles to students deciding on future careers.
- Support post-school skills training and education including micro-credentialing.
- Fund expanded opportunities for industry-specific training and skills development.
7. Enable sustainable and innovative electricity and water use for increased productivity
- Reduce electricity and water prices to encourage greater use of irrigation water allocations and infrastructure to realise the full potential of these assets.
- Implement new ways to share renewable electricity. Local grids will enable growers to access energy. generated by sugar mills and peer-to-peer trading will encourage generation investment on-farm.
- Continue on-farm energy use efficiency programs and fund $20 million energy use efficiency improvements.
- Examine and address challenges facing cane irrigation schemes.
8. Fund research and improve government services to agriculture
- Increase state funding for research, development and extension through SRA to $4 million per annum.
- Link ongoing research funding to CPI and widen outcome expectations to include productivity, profitability and sustainability.
- Restore the state’s capacity for managing the risk of pest and disease incursions.
- Move functions related to agriculture from the Department of Environment and Science to the Department of Agriculture and restore a balance in the Queensland Government’s approach from a solely water quality-driven focus to a productivity and profitability focus with best management practice and continuous improvement at its core.