Agriculture minister weighs in on Mackay Sugar ownership
THE Federal Government won't stand in the way of a foreign buyer for Mackay Sugar, Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud told reporters in Mackay yesterday.
On his first tour of Queensland cane country since his ministerial appointment last year, Mr Littleproud was peppered with questions from cane growers about the future of Mackay Sugar and what it meant for them.
As storm clouds gathered outside, the minister fielded plenty of hard questions inside one of the growers' sheds at Farleigh.
Farmers were concerned about the decision they would have to make on who would control Mackay Sugar.
After the meeting, Mr Littleproud said this country's agriculture industry needed more foreign investment, because there was a lack of support from banks at home.
"Proudly, what we have done as the Federal Government is reduce the threshold so that we have a clear line of sight through the Foreign Ownership Review Board to make sure we get foreign investment in the national interest,” he said.
"We shouldn't be afraid of foreign investment, but it has to be in the national interest. Unfortunately, we have a situation where banks are lending more to credit cards in this country than agriculture.”
Mr Littleproud said there needed to be a trillion dollar investment in the agriculture sector for it to be working optimally.
Dawson MP George Christensen said a monopoly was a reality in the sugar industry, but the Code of Conduct ensured that everyone was on a level playing field.