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B2004/24 - More than just a flying visit to Cairns needed from Labor

If the ALP is serious about addressing issues facing sugar and banana growers in north Queensland, then Mark Latham should start by releasing a $25,000 donation from Filipino banana interests to help local banana growers, Leader of The Nationals in the Senate, Ron Boswell said today.

“The Filipino banana donation that Labor accepted in 2001-02 could be put to good use now as our banana growers work to mount a strong scientific argument against Filipino imports.”

“However, Labor’s recent record when it comes to supporting Queensland’s rural industries is not flash.” Senator Boswell said.

Senator Boswell said that, on top of accepting the Philippines banana donation, Labor had voted to destroy the levy to fund a $120 million Federal contribution to sugar industry assistance, and had failed to come to an agreement with farmers at a state level to enable the full release of the package.

“Labor has fought our efforts to start a sugar ethanol industry in regional Queensland despite the obvious advantages in the regions.”

“They created false stories in the media about engine damage, costing 50 jobs in Melbourne, and in a radio interview in December, Mark Latham said that his biggest concern was ‘the waste of taxpayers money in ethanol subsidies’.”

“That was before he suggested just this month that Labor might consider retaining the Coalition’s $50 million programme to assist in building new ethanol plants.”

“Mr Latham will either have to explain and defend his party’s position on sugar and ethanol, as mooted by Lindsay Tanner this week, and tell us why he thinks farmers are ‘the most heavily subsidised part of the economy’ or he will have to repent on his statements.”

“It is all very well for Mr Latham to drop in to Cairns on his way home from Papua New Guinea to talk to sugar growers but they want to know where he stands on all these vital issues for regional Queensland.”


Media Contact - Paul Leven 07 3001 8150