Sugar bill referral to ACCC labelled ‘bizarre’

MACKAY Canegrowers chairman Kevin Borg says he is baffled by the State Government's referral to the consumer watchdog of a bill giving growers a continued say over how their sugar is marketed.

The bill was passed in the parliament on Wednesday night, after Katter's Australian Party members and independent MP Billy Gordon voted with the LNP to defeat the Labor government.

But Mr Borg said he could not understand why the government would have referred the bill to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) following the vote.

"What this bill does is gives us a platform to be able to negotiate on an equal basis, and it gives a say and choice in the market as growers," Mr Borg said.

"(The sugar bill) is pro-competitive. Growers lobbied on that basis that it was pro-competitive."

Member for Dawson George Christensen said it was "bizarre" the State Government had referred the matter to the ACCC.

"The very thing the LNP, the Katter Party and the independent MP who voted for this bill are trying to fix here is anti-competitive conduct by the mills," he said.

"How can offering choice be construed as anti-competitive?"

Australian Sugar Milling Council (ASMC) CEO Dominic Nolan said mill companies were confident aspects of the legislation contravened competition law.

"The LNP and the Katter Party have... voted to lock the sugar industry into a long and protracted legal quagmire," he said.


The bill

Voted for: 45 MPs, from the LNP, Katter Party and independent Billy Gordon.

Voted against: 43 Labor MPs.

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