PRIORITIES: Canegrowers Proserpine manager Michael Porter agrees regional Queensland must take priority in this election.
PRIORITIES: Canegrowers Proserpine manager Michael Porter agrees regional Queensland must take priority in this election. Charlotte Lam

Candidates address Canegrowers’ concerns

CANDIDATES for the seat of Whitsunday have responded to the election priorities of peak body Canegrowers, who in last week's Whitsunday Coast Guardian raised issues including sugar marketing and crippling electricity costs.

Current Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan (LNP) believes growers should have choice about who markets their sugar, "just like you and I have choice as to which supermarket and petrol station we go to".

Mr Costigan says what the overseas millers are doing is not in the national interest and this is something he promises to "dig (his) heels in" about.

"I'll be looking to speed up reforms to the electricity market, see competition introduced and I look forward to seeing some positive outcomes from the Agricultural Energy Council which we recently set up," he said.

Bronwyn Taha (ALP) says she also strongly believes growers should have choice in how their sugar is marketed.

"Obviously the long-term viability of the sugar industry is at stake and government intervention is definitely needed," she said.

Ms Taha's promise to the sugar sector is that if elected, she will work with the industry to address its concerns.

Tony Fontes (Greens) said his party would work to maintain a strong small business community and support farmers against monopoly behaviour.

He also says the Greens could reduce unaffordable electricity costs by a third across regional Queensland by, among other things, stripping gold plating on networks.

Mr Fontes says furthermore the Greens will stand with Queensland's farmers to protect the reef, with funds such as the $200 million Reef Rescue program supporting this.

Dan Van Blarcom (Independent) says Canegrowers can depend on him to oppose "anti-competitive corporate greed".

"The State Government must support solar and innovations like sugar mill co-generation and ethanol," he said.

Mr Van Blarcom also believes rural business must be involved and have a say in transport and all relevant safety issues.

Kylee Stanton (PUP) promises she will be a presence in parliament, "fighting for the rights of our farmers and our agricultural industry".

"A Palmer government is 100 per cent committed to taking back control of our electricity networks, which are currently generating power at a cost far greater than that of its production. This will ensure that power is provided to Queensland at fair and reasonable prices," she said.

Ms Stanton believes that with agriculture contributing to such a large portion of Queensland's export industry, "it can only make sense that we should become leaders in research and development to help grow our economy".

She says as the local MP she would not "remain absent on these issues".


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