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Canegrowers will continue to have safeguards under a mandatory Sugar Code of Conduct despite Labor backing a motion to abolish it.

An attempt by Senator David Leyonhjelm to disallow the Competition and Consumer (Industry Code-Sugar) Regulations 2017 drew Labor support but Government Senators with the support of cross benches voted it down.

Nationals Duty Senator for Richmond John Williams told the Chamber the seeds for the Code were sown at a meeting he held in 2014 with representatives of the Tweed Canegrowers’ Association at Condong.

Senator Williams said it was obvious there were issues in the industry that needed to be addressed, and along with his Queensland Nationals colleague Senator Barry O’Sullivan he initiated a Senate inquiry which laid bare the fears of growers about future marketing and the monopoly of millers.

The first public hearing was held in Murwillumbah.

Senator Williams said in 2015 the Senate inquiry made one recommendation, and that was the implementation of a mandatory Sugar Industry Code of Conduct.

That code came into force in April this year and is said by growers to be working well, giving them security, an arbitration mechanism to resolve disputes and forcing milling companies to allow growers marketing choice.

“Canegrowers up and down the east coast criticised the attempt to abandon the code which they had fought so hard for, and the Nationals led the fight to retain it.

It was a sweet result for this vital industry, but showed that Labor had no regard for the growers, their families and the industry as a whole” Senator Williams said.

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