Free trade and sugar (letter)by Margaret MenzelNews Weekly
, February 28, 2004
The Government's hypocrisy with sugar and the Free Trade Agreement needs to be exposed.
On the one hand they are asking American politicians and consumers to pay around US 20 cents per pound for our sugar.
Yet, at the same time they are forcing our canefarmers to accept about US 5.5 cents per pound for sugar sold on the domestic market, our single biggest market at 850,000 tonnes of sugar.
Cane farmers are unable to charge a realistic commercial rate for their product in Australia, where a Queensland State Ministerial Directive (under National Competition Policy) requires that they sell below half of the average world cost of production.
While we are forced to accept such contemptuous treatment, the price charged to package the sugar alone ranges from AUS 15 to 25 cents per kg.
There are no limitations placed on the price the multinational sugar refiners charge to manufacturers, bee keepers or the consumer.
There are no price controls on what multinationals charge for the products containing sugar on the supermarket shelf and these products do not
reflect the drop in price paid to farmers since 1994. The price since 1994 has halved to canefarmers, and risen on the supermarket shelves! The same applies to manufactured goods containing sugar.
Prime Minister Howard needs to look long and hard at the results of the Queensland State Election in the sugar seats.
There are only so many diversionary tactics that will work when people are losing their homes, their livelihoods, their communities and in many cases, their families.
Canefarming families are being driven off their land and have been driven to suicide.
We are appealing to the Prime Minister to give leadership on this issue. We need the PM to say National Competition Policy isn't working and deregulation is the abject failure it has been proven to be ... fix it now!
Stop the destruction of our rural and manufacturing industries and take care of Australians ahead of the multinational corporations who seem to be dictating policy of all the major parties in this country!Margaret Menzel,