Canegrowers Queensland chairman Paul Schembri and Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud pictured early this year.
Canegrowers Queensland chairman Paul Schembri and Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud pictured early this year. Canegrowers Mackay/Sonia Ball

Sugar Code of Conduct extended after government review

EXCLUSIVE: The sugar industry in the Mackay region and across the state will be bolstered by a four year extension of a code of conduct regulating the actions of growers, millers and marketers.

Introduced in 2017 to guide the industry in relation to contracts or agreements for supply, the Sugar Code of Conduct will stick around for the long haul in the wake of a sweeping review.

Now, the code will be amended to make it clear that pre-contractual arbitration only applies to raw sugar and not to any other cane products.

Importantly, a provision in the code allowing growers to choose their marketer will remain.

A cohort of LNP politicians have welcomed the news, including Member for Dawson George Christensen, a strong supporter of the code.

Back in April, 2014, Mr Christensen first announced he had been lobbying for a legislative instrument to protect growers' economic interest in their own sugar.

"The code came about to give sugar cane growers, millers and marketers certainty to just get on with the job and I'm happy to say it's here to stay," Mr Christensen said.

"Queensland is the powerhouse of the Australian sugar industry and produces 95% of all sugar. If the sugar industry is strong Queensland is strong."

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said the Federal Government held consultations across key sugar growing regions in Queensland and northern New South Wales, and 60 submissions written submissions were received.

The review had been due to start in October, but Mr Littleproud said he brought the review forward to July "following the industry's requests for certainty".

"Public consultations were held in Gordonvale, Innisfail, Ingham, Ayr, Mackay, Bundaberg and Broadwater and with key stakeholders to make sure a range of views were heard," he said.

"I acknowledge the sugar industry's recent efforts in improving cooperation. I look forward to industry continuing to work together on the recommendation to develop a strategy to address the shared future challenges facing the industry."

Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry joined her colleagues in welcoming the extension, as did Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd.

"This will be welcome news in Mackay, where 47 percent of the region is devoted to growing sugar cane, contributing over $460 million to the economy," Ms Landry said.

Mr O'Dowd said Australia's sugar industry "must remain strong and viable", cementing the country's position as the "third largest sugar exporter in the world".