Labor refers 'anti-competitive' sugar bill to ACCC

A CONTROVERSIAL sugar marketing bill passed in Queensland Parliament has been referred to the competition authority after the state government dubbed it anti-competitive.

The Katter's Australian Party bill passed late on Wednesday night with the support of the LNP and independent Billy Gordon.

KAP MP Shane Knuth said legislation would give greater support to sugar farmers in north Queensland.

"The principals of the bill are competition, and advocate choice, that right was protected," Mr Knuth said.

"Having a miller decide the sales price for the farmer is like a mining company deciding the wage for a worker - you need a representative," he said.

Labor, and the sugar millers, said the bill was re-regulating the industry, but the KAP, the LNP and growers group Canegrowers maintain it will increase competition.

It is only the eighth time a bill not presented by a government MP has passed through Queensland Parliament.

The Labor government, which voted against the bill, said the bill was anti-competitive and, by Thursday morning, had written to the ACCC regarding the bill.

LNP Nanango MP Deb Frecklington said in parliament that the legislation would give farmers greater freedom.

"The overwhelming majority of growers are locked into supplying the local mill, giving those mills a position of monopoly market power," she said.

But Labor Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders told parliament the bill would heavily impact the sugar industry in his electorate.

"This bill will have a devastating effect on the Maryborough economy," he said.

"I have worked hard as the local member with cane growers and with the mill to get unallocated state land for the mill to advance the mill and produce more cane to take it up over the benchmark 1.2 million tonnes to make the mill viable. We have worked very hard. This bill jeopardises that."

- APN NEWSDESK



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