Jim Pearce - ALP. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin
Jim Pearce - ALP. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin Allan Reinikka

Sugar bill passes in State Parliament by two votes

IT came down to two votes but the Sugar Bill was passing late last night, 45 to 43.

The bill was passed at 11pm last night with the two Katter Party MPs and the independent Billy Gordon voting to support the bill.

The passing of the bill was a significant defeat for the Labor Government who were at odds with canegrowers.

The bill would give growers more power on marketing their products, but the Labor Government argued that the bill was anti-competitive and risk investment in Australia.

Mirani MP Jim Pearce spoke to the parliament on the bill before it was passed reiterating his support for farmers before voting against the bill.

"Tonight I stand here fearful of where this debate may take the Queensland sugar industry, " Mr Pearce said.

"I would hate to think that a multinational that takes over the sugar industry may treat the sugar farmers in the same way as the multinationals treat mine workers in Central Queensland.

"They have no respect for anybody, they care only about the bottom line and I fear that Wilmar could be or will be simply another of the multinationals that operates in Central Queensland.

"With regard to the bill before the House, I am concerned most for the growers.  

"I have publicly stated that I would prefer to give them what they want."

Nanango MP and Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Deb Frecklington spoke in support of the bill.

"Our amendments are about giving growers a fair go, ensuring there is a degree of competition in marketing and industry where the millers are in a unique monopoly position.

"Without real choice, the market fails."

Meanwhile Canegrowers Mackay said they are keen to get on with business following the positive outcome of a parliamentary debate last night ensuring all growers continue to have a say in marketing their share of the sugar they produce.

Canegrowers Mackay chairman Kevin Borg said he was pleased to see the positive result on the pro-competitive Sugar Industry (Real Choice in Marketing) Amendment Bill 2015.

"We watched the parliamentary debate in person, and we will be thanking every MP who spoke out very strongly, and voted in favour of this Bill," Mr Borg said.

"And in particular the Member for Cook Billy Gordon, as he was a lynch pin in the debate."

Mr Borg said it was time to put this lengthy marketing campaign behind them and move forward.

"It is now time to get on with life and work constructively with our milling partners to negotiate new agreements that are conducive to all parties.

"We want to make sure this Bill will give all parties the framework to work within, without jeopardising each other's rights," Mr Borg said. 



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