The Australian Sugar Milling Council and Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson have called for lower irrigation electricity prices for the region’s farmers.
The Australian Sugar Milling Council and Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson have called for lower irrigation electricity prices for the region’s farmers.

Days of ‘government lip service’ need to be over: Mayor

MACKAY Mayor Greg Williamson has thrown out a stunning challenge to the next State Government - stop the lip service and deliver for the region's farmers.

Backing an industry worth $500,000 to the valley region alone, Cr Williamson said supporting the region's cane farmers in lowering electricity prices was a major measure to boost productivity.

"The government pays lip service to regional Queensland and we need to have a rethink," he said.

"There absolutely needs to be more focus on our agricultural sector by the State Government.

"We have seen the erosion of our ability of our agricultural sector to make a profit over a number of years now."

Cr Williamson said the resources sector was paying one electricity rate and cane farmers another, with the later hit with "abnormally high rates".

"I do know the farming community is just paying way too much for producing something that returns so much to the Queensland economy," he said.

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He said Queensland's ability to produce power "across the board" meant prices should be lower, and suggested a review of the national electricity grid and its outdated regulations was needed.

"(Cane farming) is worth half a million dollars to this valley and if the government is real about their focus on regional Queensland, about their focus on delivering to the state's GDP, they've got to look at the factors that could hurt or, if tweaked a little bit, help," he said.

It comes on the back of an Australian Sugar Milling Council survey of more than 730 people that found nine in 10 believed the Queensland Government should reduce its irrigation water charges to boost sugar production.

The 732 voters polled in the Mackay electorate found 75 per cent agreed the sugar industry was important to the state's COVID-19 economic recovery.

The survey, on October 12 and 13 this year, found 83 per cent of voters believed affordable irrigation water costs would help the industry create more jobs.

More information about early voting:

Where to vote early in Mackay

Where you can vote early in Mirani

Where to vote early in Whitsunday

Where you can vote early in Burdekin

 

"Whether they are working in the sector or not, regional Queenslanders know that a strong sugar industry provides jobs and underpins local communities," ASMC CEO David Pietsch said.

"The sugar industry generates $4 billion for the economy and that contribution means a lot to the 23,000 Queenslanders who depend on it, directly or indirectly, to support their families."

He said independent research ASMC commissioned had found a 25 per cent reduction in State Government irrigated water charges would deliver up to $220 million in additional economic activity and an additional 140 direct and indirect jobs over four years.

The poll was conducted by KJC Research with a margin error of 4 per cent, at 99 per cent confidence.

 

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