Home / Media Releases / Government-industry collaboration required to herald the economic boom in sugar | 2 February 2024

Government-industry collaboration required to herald the economic boom in sugar | 2 February 2024

The Australian Sugar Milling Council (ASMC) has released its Federal Pre-Budget submission outlining an ambitious agenda for Industry and Government collaboration to realise the full economic and environmental potential of the sugar industry.

“Sugar is an export-oriented industry that is already worth $4 billion p.a. and provides 20,000 jobs in Queensland and beyond. Government and industry must work together to capture the game changing economic opportunities provided by the industry’s capabilities in sustainable energy”,

said Mr Jannik Olejas, Chair of the ASMC.

The ASMC Pre-budget submission, released today, outlines actions the Australian Government can take over the next four years to assist the industry with programs to:

  1. Diversify industry revenue streams beyond raw sugar and within the circular economy
  2. Achieve mills’ net zero emissions by 2050
  3. Stabilise and grow the supply of quality sugarcane to mills
  4. Address mills’ skills and labour shortages.

To realise the emerging opportunities, as outlined in the sugar industry’s 2040 vision Sugar Plus, of converting co-products like bagasse, molasses, sugarcane tops and trash into renewable electricity, bio-fuels like sustainable aviation fuels, green hydrogen and bio-methane for example, the ASMC seeks assistance for:

  • A feasibility assessment to increase cogeneration supply from 440 MW to 1,000 MW’s ($6 million);
  • Support for ambitious reforms to create a vibrant domestic bio-fuels sector; and
  • Assistance for the sector to develop new methods under the Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU) scheme ($1.5 million) which will support further de-carbonisation of the sector.

“Australia has an opportunity to substantially expand and grow the types of sustainable energy it produces, however, government and industry must urgently work together to capture these opportunities given the investments already being made by governments around the world.”

“In ten years time, Australia shouldn’t look back on this as a missed opportunity when there is a clear pathway now to stake Australia’s global role in the production of sustainable energy.”

To de-carbonise the sector and help achieve Government’s ambitious Paris targets, the ASMC seeks $32 million to identify and commence projects that achieve least cost carbon abatement within the mills. These projects could include transitioning mill-owned cane transport operations from diesel locomotives to electric and hybrid options and abating the emissions from factories.

To address the sector’s structural skills and labour shortages, the ASMC is seeking $500,000 to:

  • Develop options for labour attraction, new training approaches and schools-to-mill programs;
  • Implementation of the agreed reforms under the Migration Strategy to how temporary skilled migration visas are administered; and
  • Encourage workers to migrate to and stay in sugar regions, through better co-ordination at all levels of government to improve the liveability of those towns and cities that service the sugar industry, with an emphasis on additional housing availability and affordability.

“While other countries actively subsidise their sugar industry, we are effectively placing new taxes and red tape on our sector, at a time when we need to be encouraging greater investment in the sector to capture nascent opportunities in areas such as sustainable energy”

To assist increasing the supply of cane, the ASMC calls on Government

  • To scrap the proposed 10 percent Biosecurity Protection Levy on the Australian sugar industry ($8.4 million);
  • To reform Australia’s Foreign Investment rules to allow mills to invest with local growers; and
  • To index Government’s R&D contributions to the industry to account for cost inflation ($1 million).

“Without cane to process, enough skilled workers in our supply chains, we simply cannot tap into the new opportunities that hydrogen, electricity cogeneration, and sustainable aviation fuel provides for our sector and the Australian economy”,

said Mr Olejas.

Read the full submission here

Media contact: Jim Crane – Mobile 0400 991 931 – Director, Industry and Government Affairs

The Australian Sugar Milling Council (ASMC) is the peak industry organisation for the raw sugar manufacturing sector. We represent sugar manufacturing companies which collectively produce more than 80 percent of Australia’s raw sugar.

The Australian milling sector in 2023 had annual production of:

  • 4.2 million tonnes of raw sugar at 22 mills from 32.4 million tonnes of cane received;
  • 1 million MWh’s of green co-generated electricity from 440MW’s of installed co- generation capacity;
  • 1 million tonnes of molasses; and
  • 60 million litres of ethanol from the Sarina distillery for domestic E10 and other industrial usage consumption.

In 2023, sales of raw sugar, exported electricity, molasses and ethanol generated around AUD$2.5 billion
in revenue for the Australian milling sector with returns reinvested locally into the maintenance and upgrades of sugar mills.

The Queensland sugar industry (cane growers and raw sugar millers) employs around 20,000 people and contributes around AUD$4 billion in Queensland Gross State Product (https://asmc.com.au/sugar-industrys-economic-contribution-2020-21/)