Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan.
Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan. Contributed

Nicholls denies sugar plan is response to One Nation

JASON Costigan has denied links to One Nation while LNP leader Tim Nicholls has denied a move to end the Wilmar and Queensland Sugar Limited dispute is due to the right-wing party's emergence.

Mr Nicholls announced on Tuesday if the two companies did not agree in two days to end the dispute before the end of the month he would introduce amendments forcing sugar millers and marketers to go to arbitration.

The dispute became national news over the weekend when National Party Dawson MP George Christensen threatened to defect to One Nation if the Federal Government did not work to end the dispute.

But Mr Nicholls said the LNP had been working on the issue for some time.

"This is about resolving an important issue that is growing and growing. I have called on millers and marketers to resolve this issue, to act sensibly, to compromise and to make these agreements work. But if they fail to do so then it is up to the government to act,” he said.

"We are now saying either get your house in order or we will sort it out for you.”

Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne said the government would not intervene in commercial negotiations. He said Mr Nicholls was using the sugar industry to "stave off moves on his leadership from restless National Party backbenchers”.

In Parliament on Tuesday morning Mr Byrne nominated Mr Costigan, member for Whitsunday, as the next LNP politician to defect to One Nation. He suggested Mr Costigan had been travelling to Buderim - the electorate of One Nation state leader Steve Dickson.

But Mr Costigan denied any plans to "jump ship”.

"I'm very much pro-LNP, I'm LNP to my bootstraps,” he said.

"The only jumping of ship that I contemplate is getting on a ferry to go to Hamilton island to get around my electorate.

"I'm not going anywhere. If anyone wants to get rid of us I suggest they go to Bajool, get some dynamite and try and blast us out.”


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