Chairmans' Report 2018/19
For many of us the financial year of 2018/19 was a year that will be remembered for low productivity and low prices. For others the early finish and above average CCS will be recalled. As always it was a year of highs and lows on many fronts.
For me, the top of the list of the positives was our first major win with electricity prices. Finally after about ten (10) years of lobbying anyone and everyone who could reduce prices, we started to see moves in the right direction.
“The introduction of a demand load control tariff using T 33 for use in irrigation provided financial benefits for many and it has opened the door for a range of dedicated food and fibre tariffs to be developed for the next price path and tariff structure statement. We have good representation at all levels of the Energy Queensland tariff structure investigations and have close working relationships with Energy Queensland and Ergon decision makers.”
We were very pleased to be part of hosting the Energy Consumers Australia Board on 12 September 2018 and then the entire Energy Queensland Board and senior staff on 22 November 2018.
We were able to let them know our definition of affordable electricity :
An affordable and sustainable electricity price is one that has a ceiling of 8 cents per kilowatt-hour for the electrons and 8 cents per kilowatt-hour for the network (GST exclusive).
The benefit of having these very senior decision makers understand the difficulties that their customers face has resulted in a close working relationship and I am sure will deliver real outcomes over those already achieved.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison
Courtesy of the member for Flynn, Ken O'Dowd, I was invited to meet with the Prime Minister in early November 2018 in Gladstone. I had the opportunity to advise Prime Minister Morrison about the obscene price of electricity and the financial stress it was putting on cane farmers and indeed the whole community. In his response he said he didn't disagree with anything I'd said and his government was putting in place new rules in the energy sector to provide some relief. I also spoke to him about our concerns with proposed legislation changes for our area regarding environmental regulation and our concerns with the accuracy of the science being used as a reason for implementing changes.
Dr Peter Ridd
The continuous reef regulation saga took a fair bit of time and effort during the 2018/19 year. Fortunately we made contact with Dr Peter Ridd seeking support for the establishment of an independent Institute for Policy Science Quality Control. The Boards of Isis, Maryborough and Bundaberg CANEGROWERS saw merit in Peter’s proposal and we sought a meeting with the then Minister for the Environment Hon. Melissa Price.
Dr Ridd has been pretty much the farmers lone scientific support basis and it is pleasing to see that his concept might actually come into existence.
We will be pushing for this to happen.
In April Leeanne Enoch MP Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts and her key advisors participated in a tour of the Bundaberg/ Isis / Maryborough region to showcase some of the many voluntary programs that we have implemented to improve the environmental, social and economic sustainability of our sugar cane based agribusiness industry. In collaboration with the Maryborough and Isis CANEGROWERS boards the tour included an overview of the initiatives being undertaken in the region to demonstrate the advanced sustainable practices to demonstrate the fact that regulations to protect the reef were not required in this region.
In retrospect we need not have bothered.
It is obvious that further regulation of sugarcane growers in the Burnett Mary catchment is unjustifiable in environmental terms and is more about politics and votes in the South East.
There is no scientific or environmental justification to include this region in the proposed regulations and it is an unnecessary cost to the public purse, the growers and the community in the region.
The 2018/19 season was dry and while the weather was great for harvesting it took a toll on the crop. When the season finished at Bingera on 10 October and at Millaquin on 21 October respectively a total of 1,312,794.6 tonnes of cane had been crushed for the district. This was against a starting estimate of 1,500,000 tonnes.
Rain in mid October 2018 gave us all what has turned out to be a false sense of optimism. Since then hot, dry and windy was the weather pattern and it certainly took its toll on the 2019 crop. The region was once again drought declared in early June 2019.
In this period we had Board elections for all six (6) directors’ positions which meant we had an election for the first time in the past two (2) terms. Anna Attard, Dean Cayley, Mark Pressler, Kelvin Griffin, Michael Cavallaro and myself were successful.
Larry Borg did not recontest the election and resigned as a Director. Larry was very conscientious and worked very hard for the benefit our members. He will be missed.
I acknowledge and thank our local members of government at Council, State and Federal levels for their support in 2018/19. We work hard in keeping them informed on the policies and factors that make our job as cane growers harder than it has to be. We also appreciate it when they go in to bat for us.
I also recognise our industry owned service providers, Bundaberg Sugar Services Ltd, Bundaberg Regional Irrigators Group, QSL, SRA and Women in Sugar for their valued services and products.
I thank our members, our staff and my fellow Directors for your valued input in achieving a number of milestones over the 2018/19 financial year, many of which are reported in the following snapshot for the period.
Finally to those who have lost family and loved ones in the past year I offer our sincere and heartfelt condolences.