About three hundred people attended the Growers Against Mackay Sugar Limited Levy meeting at Mirani State High School on Thursday night.
About three hundred people attended the Growers Against Mackay Sugar Limited Levy meeting at Mirani State High School on Thursday night. Campbell Gellie

Mackay Sugar question session derailed

THE rules were set early, growers weren't to speak about Mackay Sugar's financial situation, milling performance or the board - only the $2 levy.

READ: Growers must raise $170k to challenge sugar levy

But old habits die hard and it was difficult for Growers Against Mackay Sugar Levy chairman Rex Stroppiana to keep the question and answer session on track.

Joe Bugeja asked; if growers don't pay the $2 a tonne levy, how would Mackay Sugar, with its $212 million debt, improve the performances of its mills?

 

Rex Stroppiana chaired the meeting and said they wouldn't be discussing Mackay Sugar's debt, board or milling performance.
Rex Stroppiana chaired the meeting and said they wouldn't be discussing Mackay Sugar's debt, board or milling performance. Campbell Gellie

"That's not a decision this group of growers can decide. The (Mackay Sugar) board has to make that decision, they have to look at what their options are," Mr Stroppiana said.

"We don't know what other options have been put to the board, it is for them to explore what is out there."

Mr Bugeja said he was sure the board had explored "pretty much everything to come up with the levy".

"I am still not confident in allowing Mackay Sugar to be sold and I think that is the next step if we do win this," he said.

He said he was against the levy because he lacked confidence in the current board.

But any complaints about the board wasn't accepted by Marian mill area cane grower Gary Parkinson who reminded growers that they had had two chances to remove the board in the past.

He reminded the growers that he was a driving force in a failed attempt to oust chairman Andrew Cappello and director Syd Gordon in 2014, and growers voted against Noel Durnsford's bid to sack the board in January, 2017.

 

"Everyone thought we were idiots and here we are today and it is exactly the same thing as what we said years ago because people will not stand up for their rights," Mr Parkinson said.

"We're not going to keep doing this for you people. This is your last chance to do something because Mackay Sugar will roll straight over the top of you."

Despite the speech, not everyone joined the group action against the levy, including Joe Bugeja who said he preferred to sleep on big decisions like this one.



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