The newly re-elected Premier of Queensland, Peter Beattie, who lost so-called “sugar seats” in the election two days ago, has been quick to criticise the Free Trade Agreement with the United States announced today.
Text of media release from the Premier of Queensland, Peter Beattie.
Sour free trade deal means Howard must deliver $120M to sugar industry
Premier Peter Beattie is bitterly disappointed that the Federal Coalition left the sugar industry out of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States.
“Prime Minister Howard says the deal is “fantastic” but it is in fact a betrayal of the Queensland sugar industry,” Mr Beattie said.
“It has shattered hopes held by the sugar industry and the Queensland Government for fairer access to a market of 280 million people.
“When I met with US officials in Washington DC to discuss the agreement in June last year, I stressed the need for sugar to be part of any agreement.
“It has always been the Queensland Government’s position that if there is a Free Trade Agreement with the United States, sugar must be a winner.
“It is tragic that Mr Howard and the National Party have stabbed the industry in the back,” Mr Beattie said.
The deal was sealed by a conversation between Prime Minister John Howard and US President George W Bush.
“Now the Federal Government has abandoned sugar from the free trade deal, Canberra must – at the very least – be part of a $150 million package for the sugar industry,” Mr Beattie said.
“If sugar is not part of the agreement, industry reform is more essential than ever.
“In Queensland, we will stick to our promise to push ahead with reform – after discussions with key industry stakeholders and the Federal Government – and support the industry through a $30 million injection.
“It is now more imperative than ever for the Federal Government to abide by its promise and deliver to the industry $120 million it is collecting from sugar consumers.
“That is the least the Federal Government can do.
“The Free Trade Agreement promised such massive benefits to the industry, Canberra should now do more than provide the $120 million collected from Australians,” Mr Beattie said.