THE sale of Mossman Central Mill to Mackay Sugar this week will create certainty for local growers and present broader opportunities for the region’s sugar industry, says Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch.
Mackay Sugar has entered a binding agreement to acquire the milling and related assets of the mill for $25 million, aiming to boost cane supply by 25 per cent in the first four years.
Mr Entsch was advised of the sale by Mackay Sugar late Tuesday. He has had a close relationship with the mill for many years, since obtaining government grants for the mill to upgrade its factory to a food-grade standard processing plant.
Mr Entsch said the sale was a win-win situation for Mackay Sugar, growers in the Mossman-Daintree region and the employees of the Mossman Central Mill.
“It’s fantastic news,” he said. “While I will always support the concept of a local, co-operative mill owned by the growers, I appreciate the need to consolidate.
“Mackay Sugar, as a 100 per cent Australian-owned company, is by far the best option and I’m very pleased that they will retain control of this asset, especially in the light of recent mill sales to foreign interests.
“I understand that growers and mill representatives are very happy with the move as not only will it provide them with a secure future, but there will be more incentive for young people to enter and stay in the industry.
“With Mackay Sugar’s four mills and $400 million business they will now have the opportunity to be part of a much bigger group with more career pathways.”
Mossman Central Mill chairman Bill Phillips-Turner said it was an “amicable” agreement, which created long-term certainty and retained a strong focus on grower relations.
Under the agreement, a director from Mossman will sit on the Mackay Sugar board and Queensland Sugar Ltd (QSL) will be retained as the marketing body, giving growers the ability to forward price.
Mill workers received news of the sale yesterday and Mackay Sugar CEO Quinton Hildebrand addressed all employees to reassure them about their future plans. Staff will be offered employment under the new owners under their current conditions and entitlements.
Mr Phillips-Turner also thanked Mr Entsch for his efforts over the years, especially during the time of the Sugar Industry Reform Package process when the industry was “on its knees”.
Mr Entsch obtained funding through a $440 million government package that enabled Mossman Mill to upgrade its processing plant to a food-grade standard for its Daintree Gold initiative.
“We certainly appreciate Warren’s efforts and the runs on the board that he achieved, he made sure that we had a viable business to present up until today. He was instrumental in making sure that we received the funding to upgrade the factory to food grade standard.”
The sale of the mill is due to be finalised by the end of the month.