OCTOBER 24, 2018: I JOINED my colleagues from key sugar-growing regions in calling on the Trade Minister to take the chop to India’s subsidised sugar today, by seeking World Trade Organisation intervention.
Together with Member for Leichardt Warren Entsch, Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry, Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd, Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt and Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien, we are also calling on the Queensland Labor Government to introduce a food and fibre tariff to reduce power prices for growers.
We appreciate the immense pressure being put on India by our Trade Minister Simon Birmingham and Assistant Trade Minister Mark Coulton, but we now need to take India to the WTO for breaking international trade rules.
The situation for cane farmers is dire. Because of India dumping subsidised sugar onto the world market, the return for cane growers has plummeted to below the cost of production.
Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said the time for talking is finished.
“It’s time for action. This is an incredibly important industry, especially for regional Queensland, and the government needs to act,” Mr Pitt said.
“I’ll continue to take the fight up to the Queensland State Government who could be helping our canegrowers with an immediate reduction in power prices.”
Member for Leichardt Warren Entsch said the sugar industry demands action.
“We cannot sit idly by and watch this quintessential Queensland industry have the guts ripped out of it due to conscious decisions made by a foreign nation.”
Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said the need for action was paramount.
“The sugar industry means a great deal to communities all along the Queensland coast; without a decent price, these communities will struggle,” Ms Landry said.
“We are standing up for our farmers and standing up for the rules of the global market.”
Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien said ensuring the Queensland sugar industry was internationally competitive was paramount.
“We cannot risk the industry’s exploitation due to the unscrupulous actions of foreign competitors,” Mr O’Brien said.
Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd said the WTO should be called on to act now, not in three years’ time.
“Our sugar industry won’t exist in three years’ time if this issue can’t be resolved now,” Mr O’Dowd said.
“Mr Pandey (India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry) said the payments to farmers will only be temporary! Well what I would like to know is, how long is a piece of string?”