Queensland LNP Senator Matthew Canavan has called on Queensland Labor's Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Bill Byrne, to apologise to Queensland canegrowers after unfairly slurring them by calling them 'militants' yesterday.
On ABC country hour yesterday Bill Byrne said:
I am firmly of the belief the reason that hasn't matured in a sensible, adult fashion is because certain, what I would describe as militant elements of, the processors ...
Craig Zonca: Bill Byrne, I just want to pull you up on a point there. You said, 'Militant millers.' Did you mean militant millers or militant growers?
Bill Byrne: Producers. Growers."
"This is a ridiculous accusation," said Senator Canavan.
"What makes it even more ludicrous is that it comes from Queensland's Minister for Agriculture - a person who is meant to be representing the Queensland canegrowers."
"I am a little confused. Apparently, according to the Labor Party, when the CFMEU bullies people on building sites it's not militant behaviour. When a multinational sugar trading company threatens to sue the Federal Government it's not militant behaviour. But when a group of Queensland cane farming families propose a reasonable change to our laws, this apparently is militant behaviour."
Senator Canavan made these comments while speaking to the Mackay Canegrowers Annual General Meeting this morning.
"What makes Bill's scaremongering even more absurd is that the regulation that he is arguing against, a sugar code of conduct, was recommended by a Labor Party chaired Senate inquiry only a few months ago - presumably in Bill Byrne's eyes just another example of militant behaviour."
"The proposed sugar code of conduct is based on a code of conduct that already exists in the wheat industry in Australia. The Labor Party supported the wheat code of conduct. Bill apparently thinks that a sugar code of conduct will lead to economic armageddon. So he needs to show how that has happened in the wheat industry."