Welcome to Bundaberg CANEGROWERS

MEDIA RELEASE - December 2020 

Farmers determined to overcome Council's rates disaster

“Farmers in this region have deep roots and a determination to overcome disaster – whether climatic or
caused by government action – is a fundamental trait. Bundaberg’s elected councillors may think they can sit
by and do nothing while farmers are hit with crippling rates rises of up to 235% across the region they are
supposed to support and protect, but they can’t.”

That’s the message from the farmer consortium of Agforce, Bundaberg Fruit & Vegetable Growers (BFVG),
Bundaberg Canegrowers and Canegrowers Isis, which is “bitterly disappointed by the inaction” of councillors
on the Category farmland rates dispute.

“On 30 November, after months of blindsiding and false claims by Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey, Deputy
Mayor Bill Trevor and council CEO Steve Johnston, a deputation from the four farmer groups finally were able
to present to a meeting of councillors,” said Peter McLennan of Canegrowers Isis, who was one of the

“A clear way forward was put on the table in the form of a motion that Bundaberg Regional Council rescind the
motion that passed the 2020 Budget and recast the Budget so that ALL ratepayers do not receive a rates
increase any greater than CPI (Consumer Price Index), which is cost of living.” (See details below)
Tom Marland of Agforce, also at the 30 November meeting, said: “There was a straightforward opportunity for
that motion to be put at the 15 December Ordinary Meeting of Bundaberg Regional Council. But on the day,
no councillor – including the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, who had made specific pre-election promises to
farmers to keep rates at CPI – put the motion forward.”

Dean Cayley of Bundaberg Canegrowers said: “Mayor Jack Dempsey, Deputy Mayor Bill Trevor and all of the
other elected councillors can rest assured that the closing of the 15 December meeting without addressing the
outlandish and unprecedented farmland rates rises does not close the issue for farmers and the communities
who depend on us.”

Joe Lyons of BFVG said: “We have said that this campaign will not stop until the situation is resolved. The
campaign continues. Whatever it takes, farmers stand shoulder to shoulder with and for the community.”

At the 30 November deputation, the farmer consortium directly challenged the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and CEO
around four key areas:

  • The level of information around the Category 9 rates rises provided to the majority of the councillors
    involved in the budget decision-making.
  • The level of proper and honest consultation with farmers prior to the massive rates increases.
  • Council’s adherence to its own policies and procedures.
  • Council’s adherence to the State Government’s Guideline on Equity and Fairness in Rating for
    Queensland Local Governments.

Mr Cayley said: “As has been raised directly with Mayor Jack Dempsey and Deputy Mayor Bill Trevor, we also
are putting the spotlight on their own direct promise made to my Board in the run-up to the 2020 council
elections that rates would be kept to CPI.

“Farmers are true to their word and are committed to supporting our communities. Our Mayor, Deputy Mayor
and Councillors need to show that same capacity.”

The Motion:

That Bundaberg Regional Council (BRC) rescind the motion that passed the 2020 Budget and recast the
Budget so that ALL ratepayers do not receive a rates increase any greater than CPI (Consumer Price Index).

Note: This motion is supported by the Justice and Other Legislation (COVID-19 Emergency Response)
Amendment Act 2020, Section 94A, which provides a temporary regulation-making power that enables a local
government under the Local Government Act 2009 to decide by resolution made other than at the local
government’s budget meeting for the 2020-2021 financial year, what rates and charges are to be levied for a
relevant part of that financial year.

Such a decision made under the regulation is an extraordinary decision and a relevant part of the 2020-2021
financial year and provides for the local government’s 2020-21 annual budget to be amended to take account
of the extraordinary decision and for any amended annual budget to be adopted.



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:

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.

Projects and Events

Smartcane BMP

The “Smartcane BMP” Program is an opportunity for sugarcane growers throughout the state to showcase their farming practices. Smartcane BMP Facilitators in your local CANEGROWERS office are available to assist growers to register on the Smartcane BMP website and to complete assessment questionnaires about various aspects of their farming practices. Growers who have registered on Smartcane BMP and completed the assessments are invited to seek assistance from their local facilitator to achieve Smartcane BMP accreditation. Facilitated training and assistance sessions are held at CANEGROWERS office each Thursday morning. For further details on the Smartcane BMP Program click here.


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.


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.