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Sugar doesn't need Labor's kind of help.



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HON WARREN TRUSS MP MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY

AFFA02/194WT 14 August 2002

Sugar doesn’t need Labor’s kind of help

Labor’s so-called ‘blueprint for the sugar industry’ unveiled today demonstrates no vision for a viable, innovative and progressive industry in the years ahead.

Labor’s plan is just more welfare payments, more environmental regulations and more studies. It seems that Labor will never understand that farmers do not want to get stuck on welfare. The proud sugar industry deserves better than having to come cap in hand to government year after year.

Obviously, Senator O’Brien has again been completely ineffective in securing any new commitment to cane farmers from his Labor Caucus. Senator O’Brien’s plan requires nothing from the Labor States for the industry that they regulate and have failed to help in the past.

By contrast, the Coalition is working with the Queensland Government to provide the sugar industry with the tools it needs to be a sustainable and vibrant, long-term contributor to the national economy.

The Government released the Hildebrand Report on 28 June and is carefully considering a response. The report focuses on the industry’s key economic, social and environmental drivers, and identifies the major challenges the industry faces in coming years.

Clive Hildebrand undertook over 100 consultation meetings, including public forums throughout Queensland, and received over 200 submissions. The sugar industry has also undertaken work on its own proposals for comprehensive reform, which were presented to Mr Hildebrand as part of his overall study.

In delivering the response to the Hildebrand Report, the Government will need the support, not only of local communities and the industry itself, but more importantly, the Commonwealth will need the full support of the Beattie State Government.

The Coalition Government’s Sugar Industry Assistance Package, announced in September 2000, was successful in providing immediate relief to growers, with over $60 million in assistance provided. More than 5,200 farmers received some sort of assistance from the package, but it was disappointing that the Queensland State Government provided no meaningful support.

Labor’s suggestion for an ethanol task force is at least a year behind what the Federal Government has been doing. The Coalition has an election commitment to achieve 350 million litres a year biofuel production in Australia by 2010.

Details of how this target will be achieved will be finalised following the completion of a study into the market barriers facing ethanol and biodiesel.

Further media inquiries: Mr Truss's office, Tim Langmead (02) 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433

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Last updated 14 August 2002

URL: http://www.affa.gov.au/ministers/truss/releases/02/02194wt.html Commonwealth of Australia 2002