Sugar cane harvesting.
Sugar cane harvesting. Peter Carruthers

Cane growers choice in marketing looks lost

THE State Government has given its clearest indication yet that legislation passed in 2015 to give cane growers choice in who markets their sugar could be changed.

Support from independent MPs paved the way for change, but Canegrowers Mackay now fears the newly elected Labor majority government will overturn the Real Choice in Marketing legislation.

Responding to questions Thursday, a spokesman for Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said the government has been consistent in its message that "sugar marketing is a commercial matter and should have been resolved by industry through normal commercial means".

"The Queensland Productivity Commission found there was no market failure justifying legislative intervention," he said, indicating a change could be forthcoming. "This legislation restricts competition and innovation, is detrimental to future investment, is likely to reduce productivity and risks millers exiting the industry, which would leave Queensland's cane farms as stranded assets."

Canegrowers Mackay chairman Kevin Borg said there was no doubt about the legislation's success. "It has put competition in the market and given growers a real choice," he said.

The legislation is intended to allow growers, regardless of who their miller is, to have control over where they market their sugar.