December 14th 2002

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Why the Liberals were wiped out in Victoria

CANBERRA OBSERVED: First strike? With what?

VICTORIAN ELECTION: Cause of Liberals' decimation clear

Higher costs force up cover price of News Weekly

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Physician heal thyself

The panacea of free trade (letter)

Free trade: myth and reality (letter)

HOUSING: A solution to young home-buyers' nightmare

Universities: quantity replaces quality (letter)

Medicare (letter)

Ignored Australians (letter)

ECONOMICS: Just how real are Japan's money woes?

COMMENT: The cause one dares not criticise

SUGAR: Sugar cane farmers rally to unite industry

MEDIA: Counting the cost of the Pay TV war

HISTORY: Revisiting the Dismissal

ASIA: Taiwan Strait's delicate military balance

BOOKS: Dry: In Defence of Economic Freedom, by John Hyde

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Sugar cane farmers rally to unite industry

by Patrick J. Byrne

News Weekly, December 14, 2002
Over 3,500 sugar cane farmers and supporters recently marched through the streets of Townsville in protests at the plan of the Federal and Queensland governments to deregulate the industry.

The two governments are also putting up a $150 million adjustment package over four years, for an industry that is losing $400-$600 million a year since it was partly deregulated in 1996.

Angry farmers had earlier rallied at meetings along the Queensland coast against the joint government proposals, and in support of an alternate eight-point industry plan put forward by leading farmers who have formed a Cane Farmers Reform Committee.

The Townsville Bulletin described the march as the largest rally ever held in the city.


The rally speakers included, Bob Katter, Independent member for Kennedy; Ross Walker, President of the Australian Cane Farmers Association; Peter Duffy, Townsville Chamber of Commerce President; Bill Micola, Australian Manager for Cameco (the cane harvester group); Robert Lyons, Queensland and Australian Mechanical Harvesters Association; Max Menzel, member of Canegrowers Board; and members of the Cane Farmers Reform Committee.

Letters of support came from Digger James, former RSL President, the business community in, Ingham, Townsville and the Burdekin, local government, sporting and media identities.

Local rugby league legends Laurie Spina and Martin Bella led the rally alongside former ALP MP, Ted Lindsey, and Bob Katter.

Many local businesses in the region closed their doors to support the rally.

Some farmers travelled from as far south as Maryborough (which is a day and a half by train) to attend the rally.

Organisers said that the rally was important for building unity across the industry and resolve among farmers to oppose deregulation.

According to one organiser, Margaret Menzel:

"This was not a rally to have farmers just let off steam. It was an important step in bringing the industry together to realize their political strength. Further action is now beginning to finally unite the industry and then launch a concerted assault on Brisbane and Canberra."

  • Pat Byrne

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