Sugar bill splits millers and growers

THE Queensland Premier has written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urging him to scuttle LNP plans to support a sugar industry bill claiming it threatens international trade.

In the letter Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the bill, which will be debated in Queensland Parliament tonight, risked trade ties and was anti-competitive.

"I am seriously concerned that this bill will cause serious trade and investment risk to Australia. I am deeply concerned that this proposal is being supported by the Queensland Liberal National Party and I seek your intervention," it said.

"Should the bill pass this Wednesday, my government will be immediately referring it to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for assessment, as it enables anti-competitive conduct under the Consumer and Competition Act 2010."

Last week Opposition leader Lawrence said the LNP would support the bill which he said would help growers market their product.

Farmers group Canegrowers supports the Katter's Australian Party-introduced bill, but sugar millers group, the Australian Sugar Milling Council, said it could lead to the industry's "demise".

Speaking outside Parliament House in Brisbane, council chief Dominic Nolan said the bill would result in a major downturn in the industry.

"Our great concern is the impact this is going to have in regions in Queensland that are dependent on the sugar industry," he said.

"I think it will absolutely lead to the demise of the industry."

Canegrowers chief Paul Schembri said the bill would "complete deregulation"; although he was disappointed it had come to the point where legislation was needed.

He said the bill would give farmers greater certainty and freedom in marketing their product.

Mr Schembri said the growers believed the bill would help farmers and not hinder the industry.

"We don't subscribe to the millers' view that this will cause the stars to fall out of the sky," he said.

- APN NEWSDESK



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