June 28th 2003

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Counting Stalin's victims 50 years on

EDITORIAL: Australia's population challenge

PACIFIC: Solomon Islands: nightmare in paradise

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Why the Crean-Beazley issue is unresolved

ENVIRONMENT: Climate scientists reject Kyoto Protocol

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Labor mates / Night to remember / Heart of darkness / Intervention

EUTHANASIA: Stopping Australia's Doctor Death

Sugar price decline (letter)

Free trade deal and local shareholders (letter)

TIMOR L'ESTE: Looming food shortage in East Timor

AGRICULTURE: National water trading plan questioned

FAMILY LAW: Canadian court changes definition of marriage

EDUCATION: The problem with boys ...

South African economic miracle?

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Sugar price decline (letter)

by L.J. Fabrellas

News Weekly, June 28, 2003

Through your pages, I want to draw to the attention of the community and our Members of Parliament the desperately low prices now being received for sugar on the world market, this being the price on which the Australian industry is expected to survive and on which our local community depends.

The prices (converted to Australian dollars) over the last week or so have fallen to around $220 a tonne yet recently, the State Minister for Primary Industries, Mr Palaszczuk, made a public comment that the industry needs a sugar price of $300 to $330 to survive.

At the same time, we have the State Government displaying its total lack of knowledge or understanding of this industry by decreeing that deregulation can fix the problem.

They need to forget their economic theorists because those people have no answers. They don't or won't recognise what our problem is. The Federal Government offers little or no help either.

So where can we turn for help before the whole industry financially collapses. It seems to me it is time for the miller/refiners (CSR, Mackay Sugar, Bundaberg Sugar and the NSW Milling Cooperative) to take a proactive position.

As the sole purchasers of raw sugar for the domestic white sugar trade, it is time they went around the Queensland price fixing and paid the producers (both millers and growers) a price for their product which more correctly reflects its value (in the market as a refined product) and its cost of production.

There is nothing in the legislation that compels these companies to pay the price decreed by the State Minister for Primary Industries.

There are 29 mills on the east coast of Australia of which 22 are fully or partly owned by sugar refiners. The fact that all those mills are also adversely affected by the domestic pricing policy for sugar inside Australia indicates to me that the companies are using the income from their refining operations to bolster the milling operations but the growers supplying those mills are left out in the cold.

I call on the four milling/refining companies to initiate some means of paying the raw sugar industry a higher price for domestic sugar which is over and above that permitted by the Ministerial Directive. If they do not, the end is in sight for each of their companies as sugar millers.

L.J. Fabrellas,
Ayr, North Queensland

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