The majority voted against a motion introduced by Independent Senator Glenn Lazarus, which called on the Government to act on the recommendations made by the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee on the Australian sugar industry.
What did the motion say?
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) the Australian sugarcane industry is one of Australia's largest and most important rural industries with sugarcane being Queensland's largest agricultural crop,
(ii) around 85 per cent of the raw sugar produced in Queensland is exported and generates up to $2 billion in export earnings,
(iii) the majority of mills in Australia are foreign owned and Australian grower groups are concerned about the monopoly powers of mills to misuse their market power against Australian sugarcane growers, particularly in response to changes to the industry from 2017 which may see large foreign owned milling companies taking control of the Australian sugar marketing sector, and
(iv) the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee report Current and future arrangements for the marketing of Australian sugar, tabled in June 2015, recommended the development and implementation of a mandatory sugar industry code of conduct;
(b) acknowledges that Australian sugarcane growers are urgently seeking implementation of a national industry code of conduct to protect them from large resourced companies exercising monopoly powers to dictate the commercial relationship between millers and growers, the installation of a commercial arbitration facility to support them to resolve issues with mills, and the ability to select a sugar marketing organisation of their choice; and
(c) calls on the Federal Government to support Australian sugarcane growers, to act on the recommendation in the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee report, and to work with industry as a matter of urgency to:
(i) develop and implement a code of conduct,
(ii) establish a national commercial arbitration service,
(iii) provide Australian canegrowers with the flexibility to select sugar marketing organisations of their choice, and
(iv) establish a national support service for Australian canegrowers.