SUGAR industry jobs in the Wide Bay Burnett region hang in the balance ahead of this weekend's state election with Labor failing to commit to a rescue package ahead of a potential mill closure.
MSF Sugar is considering closing their Maryborough mill after Rural Funds Management purchased 5409 hectares of their cane growing land in the district earlier this year, with a view to replanting with macadamia nuts.
While a decision has yet to be made to cease operations at the Maryborough Mill, the company has worked with industry stakeholders to examine various options for crushing the cane grown in the region.
Canegrowers and the Australian Sugar Milling Council said Isis Central Sugar Mill and Canegrowers Maryborough had developed a five-year plan that could see sugarcane currently contracted to the Maryborough Sugar Mill transferred to ICSM, near Childers.
But they said a Queensland Government contribution of $6.33 million was needed to ensure a $20.55 million infrastructure improvement plan could be implemented so the cane could be delivered to Childers.
While the LNP has committed to provide the necessary funds, Labor has fallen short saying only "we will work with growers and industry on this matter."
"The incoming Queensland government must be ready to work with industry and the Australian government to deliver the package and secure the future of sugar industry jobs in the southern cane region," Canegrowers CEO Dan Galligan said.
"Maryborough growers need to be confident they'll have access to a mill to process their cane in order to plan future crops.
"Carting sugarcane all the way to Isis Central Sugar Mill will keep hundreds of people in work but it will also add costs, and the industry needs some State government support."
ASMC CEO David Pietsch said MSF Sugar had committed a sizeable contribution towards the plan and it was time for government to also come to the party.
"The industry needs to know the funding has been secured so that the necessary infrastructure can be put in place before next year's crush, to provide certainty to growers, mill workers and the local communities that are so dependent on the sugar industry," Mr Pietsch said.
"Jobs in the region are already going to be lost as a result of the closure of the Bingera Sugar Mill at Bundaberg and the possible mill closure at Maryborough, so this investment will be critical to stabilise the Isis Central Sugar Mill and support farming businesses in the region."
The proposed plan includes building a transloader facility, expanding the rail network and improving the efficiency of road transport.