Welcome to Bundaberg CANEGROWERS
MEDIA RELEASE – "Show us the Money"
19 March 2021
Farmers are challenging Bundaberg Regional Council to “show us the money” being spent on a massively ratepayer-funded media machine while local producers reel from a $2.4 million increase to their rates bill.
It has been revealed the BRC-owned and operated BundabergNow operation - which contains an online “newspaper”, “news” broadcast, podcasts, digital magazine, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram – is costing ratepayers millions of dollars a year to run.
In addition, a Bundaberg Today investigation has revealed that since the 2017-18 BRC budget any details of specific spending on BundabergNow, which BRC Chief of Staff Michael Gorey has confirmed has 13 staff, have vanished from public view. In the 2020 BRC budget, “communications” sat within a general $142 million “Employee Benefits, Materials and Services” funding pool.
The challenge by Bundaberg farmers follows unprecedented rates increases of up to 235% on farmland by BRC in the 2020 budget. A farmer consortium of Agforce, Bundaberg Fruit & Vegetable Growers (BFVG), Bundaberg Canegrowers and Canegrowers Isis formed to fight the unprecedented move, which ripped a further $ 2.4 million on top of the $7.5 million that this sector already paid in council rates.
Tom Marland of Agforce, speaking for the consortium said: “We call on Mayor Jack Dempsey and his councillors, to ‘show us the money’. The community must be confident of transparency in spending of ratepayer dollars, and when the Mayor is gouging millions in extra rates payments from farmers with one hand and pouring millions into a council-run media machine with the other, it’s time to say enough is enough.
“The millions being poured into a BRC media machine would seem to be close to dollar-to-dollar to those being snatched from the Bundaberg farmers in the 2020 budget – those same producers who are putting food on tables during COVID while also battling a lack of water security due to the Paradise Dam debacle and labour shortages.”
Dean Cayley of Bundaberg Canegrowers, speaking for the consortium, said: “ Bundaberg’s economy is based on agribusiness, and ripping a further $2.4 million from it in one rates round, with the compounding effect of following rates notices over the coming years, is gouging a massive hole in the local economy. These millions provided in rates by farmers cannot be spent locally at businesses, which are already struggling.
“Farmers are here for all in our community – we put food on tables, support tens of thousands of local jobs, and are a pillar of the local and statewide economy. Yet in June 2020, for no good reason and without consultation, more than 200 Bundaberg farmers had their rates more than doubled, 64 saw a 90% increase, 125 an 80% increase, 167 a 70% increase, 252 a 60% increase and 318 a 50% increase. One farming operation in our region saw a rates rise of 235%. It’s a disaster – and farmers are getting increasingly concerned as each new council rates cycle compounds the massive rates rises.
“The council’s unrealistic and highly damaging rates grab on farmers is pushing local producers to the wall and off the land. And all this while the Mayor and his councillors use our ratepayers’ money to pay for a 13-strong media team to run their own BRC so-called ‘news’ operation. It has to stop.”
‘DON’T TREAT OUR FARMERS LIKE RUBBISH’:
Support our Bundaberg farmers' battle against rates hikes of up to 235%:
Farmers across every sector of the industry in Bundaberg region have been hit with crippling rates rises of up to 235% in Bundaberg Regional Council's 2020 Budget. Our farmers are central to our local economy and support tens of thousands of local jobs and this rates hike is aleady filtering through to Bundaberg business and households across the region.
Bundaberg's farming industry is already struggling under the weight of drought, COVID, water security issues and a rising tide of costly and time-consuming unwarranted red tape. This rates rise by our own council - which is ripping millions of dollars out of our farming industry - is quite literally pushing farmers off the land. Council must reconsider this rates decision made in the 2020 Budget.
You can sign the petition here to show your support for Bundaberg's farmers: https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/dont-treat-bundy-farmers-like-rubbish-reverse-the-235-rates-hike.html?
Brian Gordon, Northside Produce
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information
Your health is our priority as we deal with the coronavirus and together we will get through this. It is crucial that people continue to listen to the advice from our medical professionals when it comes to social distancing and hygiene.
Below are phone numbers and websites which might be useful if you’re looking for information:
- Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) is continuing to work closely with the agriculture sector to plan for current and emerging issues arising from COVID-19. Keep yourself up to date with the latest agriculture news. DAF has also put together a summary document outlining all the current COVID-19 related support services and information relevant to agribusiness.
- www.australia.gov.au – updated regularly with a wide variety of information and factsheets on health and prevention measures, support for the community, information for travellers and links to state government information
- www.business.gov.au 13 28 46 - seven days per week from 7am to 11pm AEST - advice on support available to businesses, i.e. cash flow assistance, wage subsidies for apprentices/trainees, etc. State Governments; Small Business Line: 1300 654 687
- Please, do not go to a Centrelink shopfront. Go to www.servicesaustralia.gov.au or call: Services Australia Jobseeker line: 132 850, MyGov Helpdesk: 132 307 or Child Support (change of circumstances): 131 272
- 1800 020 080 - National Coronavirus Health Information Line available 24/7. This line provides health and situation information on the outbreak.
- Queensland Government Community Recovery hotline 1800 173 349 – can assist people in self quarantine.
- Safe Work Australia - Agriculture: Minimising the risk from COVID -19 - https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/covid-19-information-workplaces/industry-information/agriculture
- Business Queensland - Managing agriculture workplace health and safety concerns - https://www.business.qld.gov.au/industries/farms-fishing-forestry/agriculture/coronavirus-support/workplace-health-safety
- CANEGROWERS has produced a Sugarcane Farm COVID-19 Guide to help growers manage on farm procedures around workplace hygiene to minimise the risk of coronavirus spreading amongst their family, workers and contractors. Visit http://www.canegrowers.com.au/icms_docs/317139_canegrowers-sugarcane-farm-covid-19-guide.pdf to view the guide.
And please remember, stay 1.5 metres away from others, wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, avoid touching your face, ensure you cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, and if you are sick, please stay at home.
CANEGROWERS Insurance Scheme - owned by growers, working for growers, was commenced in 2012 to look after our members’ insurance needs. Wide Bay Authorised Representative Ray Goodwin has extensive experience in looking after the insurance needs of the rural sector and has assisted many of our members to ensure that their insurance cover is tailored to their requirements. Ray provides a personalised on-farm service to growers, primarily servicing CGU’s Canepol insurance policies. He also has access to a broad range of other insurance products and alternative underwriters so that appropriate insurance cover can be obtained for all aspects of members’ businesses at the best price.
To contact Ray to discuss your insurance needs call 4151 2555 or on mobile on 0418 891 783.
Bundaberg CANEGROWERS Ltd
Our Mission is to provide representation, leadership and services and promote unity in the interest of growers.
Our Goals are to provide an effective and efficient service through a focus on growers' key concerns within a changing environment. To maximise grower and industry proceeds by marketing current and future sugar production through a structure that is transparent and accountable to the industry. To ensure that industry growth is managed and market driven within a sustainable sugar industry. To ensure environmentally and financially sustainable production through managing and coordinating inputs and resources.
Our Vision is to ensure a secure and profitable future for Bundaberg cane growers.