House debates

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Statements by Members

Dawson Electorate: Queensland Sugarcane Growers

1:31 pm

Photo of George ChristensenGeorge Christensen (Dawson, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I am pleased to report that the Queensland parliament last night did the right thing by Queensland sugarcane growers by passing a law to ensure that they have a choice in the marketing of their sugar. This ends a protracted battle with the foreign owned mills who were going to take that right away from canegrowers. I congratulate the LNP, in particular Lawrence Springborg and Deb Frecklington. I congratulate Katter's Australian Party and the independent MPs who overrode the minority Labor government to get this bill through. It was disappointing that Labor voted against it, including the MP for Mirani, Jim Pearce, whose electorate includes the largest sugar-growing district in Australia. Labor sided with the foreign milling company, using its monopoly to ride roughshod over 4,000 farming families.

Now the Palaszczuk Labor government is looking for a means to overturn that law, including approaches to this federal government in the vain hope that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission will step in. But Ms Palaszczuk should know that asking the coalition to vote against freedom, competition and Australian farmers would be an invitation to swell the ranks of the crossbenches in this place, so it will not happen. Offering choice is hardly anti-competitive, and the federal coalition will only override state legislation if it is inconsistent with federal competition laws or our trade obligations with Singapore. Given the free trade agreement with Singapore allows for laws about anticompetitive conduct, the new law is here to stay; it is a win for farming families right across Queensland.