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Sugar millers see Code review as ‘missed opportunity’

Australia’s sugar millers are frustrated by the Federal Government’s decision today to retain a mandatory Sugar Code of Conduct.

The decision is all the more exasperating because the Code review recommendations reflected all the points made in the Australian Sugar Milling Council (ASMC) submission.

ASMC CEO, David Pietsch said “our submission specifically called for:

  • The Code to be repealed, allowing industry to focus on commercial relationships and mechanisms to manage the production and marketing of sugar; and that
  • Industry bodies should collaborate on the development of a whole-of-industry strategic plan, through wide consultation with industry participants, to provide a roadmap towards a more sustainable and profitable Australian sugar industry.

“Government had a chance to remove the Code and drive confidence, build trust and encourage investment for the benefit of the entire supply chain,” he added.

“Uncertainty is improved somewhat by the recommendation for pre-contract arbitration to apply only to raw sugar, but the Government has missed the opportunity to adopt a key recommendation of the review – namely to repeal the marketing choice provisions.

“We call today on Minister Littleproud to reconsider the Government’s response to the review and, as a minimum, to adopt in full the recommendations arising from the review.

“Under this ongoing burden of unnecessary regulation, milling companies will continue to be faced with difficult decisions.

“Pror to the introduction of the Code – and mirroring Queensland legislation – our member sugar milling companies had ambitions for growth that would benefit all sectors. Now over-regulation is handcuffing the industry,” he said.

John Pratt, ASMC Chair added “the Government is fully aware we are struggling to compete at current world prices.”

“We have explained that the Australian industry has worked hard to become a low-cost and efficient exporter, but with the global market awash with unfairly subsidised sugar, our sugar milling operations cannot sustain losses indefinitely.”

“As a sector we now risk the distraction and significant loss of time and money in protracted arbitration and legal disputes, for no net benefit to industry.”

‘As outlined in our submissions to the Code review, the regulations are a huge deterrent to investment and the uncertainty is putting jobs at risk and local communities under threat,” concluded Mr Pratt.

12 December 2018