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Monday, 30 August 1999
Page: 9341

Mrs DE-ANNE KELLY —I would like to speak today about the sugar industry working party that went to North Queensland recently to look at the serious deterioration in the cane price in the area from Ingham to Mossman. The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Hon. Warren Truss, accompanied us. The trip, as I said, went from Mossman down to Ingham. The most severe problem facing the North Queensland sugar industry is a loss of CCS—in other words, a declining sugar yield within the cane. This is to be attributed to a number of factors—for example, spaghetti cane, sugarcane that is simply not suited to the high rainfall areas in the north. It also appears that, with their heavy speed and high horsepower, the harvesters are gathering up far too much extraneous matter and trash, which is taken into the mills. In some of the mills—for instance, at Tully—they estimate now that two weeks of mill time is spent in simply processing extraneous matter.

Other difficulties in the northern sugar industry have been Cyclone Rona, heavy flooding, severe rat infestation and, of course, the low world price. The reason for the low world price is predominantly the fact that Brazil, with the relatively low oil price at the moment, is unfortunately putting its sugarcane on to the world market rather than into ethanol production. (Time expired)