Farmers celebrate Senate sugar code support

Farmers celebrate as Senate backs sugar industry code

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CELEBRATING: CANEGROWERS chairman Paul Schembri says the sugar code addresses the imbalance of power at the grower-miller negotiating table.

CELEBRATING: CANEGROWERS chairman Paul Schembri says the sugar code addresses the imbalance of power at the grower-miller negotiating table.

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Cane growers are celebrating the Senate’s decision to vote down an attempt to disallow the Sugar Industry Code of Conduct.

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CANE farmers are celebrating the Senate’s decision to vote down an attempt to disallow the Sugar Industry Code of Conduct.

CANEGROWERS chairman Paul Schembri said by voting against NSW Senator David Leyonhjelm’s disallowance motion, the majority of Senators had shown their support for Australian farmers, their family businesses and regional communities.

Sen Leyonhjelm was sent packing. His disallowance motion was beaten 37 votes to 19 with the Coalition, Greens, One Nation and the Nick Xenophon Teamsiding together, along with independents Lucy Gichuhi and Jacqui Lambie.

“We thank the Senate for reaffirming the need for a code to address the imbalance of power at the grower-miller negotiating table in our industry,” Mr Schembri said.

“Put simply, the code ensures growers are not backed against a wall unfairly by regional milling monopolies because they have no choice over where their cane is processed.

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“Sen Leyonhjelm sought to bring about profound industry change without any reference to growers and this unnecessary and futile episode has caused stress and uncertainty.

“We now look forward to going back to the business of growing quality sugarcane with the code’s provisions in place to provide stability and security in our industry.”

Mr Schembri said the code requires negotiations to be conducted in good faith with each party acting reasonably, fairly and honestly without intimidation. It also provides a mechanism for arbitration should there be a deadlock.

“Under the Code, growers have commercial fairness which gives us confidence to invest and for our communities to prosper,” Mr Schembri said.

The Sugar Industry Code of Conduct will go through a formal review process within 18 months.

“We note with disappointment that Labor Party Senators backed Senator Leyonhjelm’s disallowance motion,” Mr Schembri said.

“The review process next year is the proper opportunity to address any concerns about the Code and seek amendments, throwing it out today would’ve been a massive slap in the face to growers and to all workers and small businesses in many industries which operate under similar codes.”

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