News and Views

Wilmar interference with QSL Board riles growers

A court decision removing industry directors from the QSL Board is further evidence of the extent to which Wilmar Sugar is going in its bid to control the Queensland industry.

“QSL is a not-for-profit, industry-owned marketing organisation,” CANEGROWERS CEO Dan Galligan said.

“In 2014 Wilmar decided to separate from the whole-of-industry marketing arrangements and separate from QSL and ever since they have tried everything they can to encourage growers to do the same.

“To go to court to challenge an industry-backed board restructure under these circumstances was another tactic in a campaign for control by Wilmar and the court ruling in Wilmar’s favour is regrettable.

“Wilmar is interfering in a company it sees as a threat to its plans – this is about control and not performance.”

This Federal Court decision removes three grower and three miller directors from the QSL board.

They had been appointed in November 2016 to add industry experience and perspective to QSL’s leadership in a time of increased competition in sugar marketing services – competition that Wilmar Sugar has opposed.

“The grower directors are collateral damage in Wilmar’s big picture objective to remove other Queensland milling company directors from QSL’s Board,” Mr Galligan said.

“Rather than work with growers and within the competition and choice framework of the industry as other millers are doing, Wilmar is trying to undermine QSL and diminish the capacity of other milling companies in Australia to determine their destinies.”

Wilmar lost its bid to control the marketing of all sugar from its mills when the Queensland Parliament added grower choice and provision for marketing competition into the Sugar Industry Act at the end of 2015.

“Wilmar has spent the best part of a year in legal, political and public relations battles, yet it has still not secured cane supply for the impending 2017 season and has left growers in limbo,” Mr Galligan said.

“While we are disgusted at Wilmar’s persistent treatment of our industry as a corporate plaything, we are confident that QSL will continue to be a strong and reliable marketer for the industry, capably led by the remaining independent directors.

“Throughout this saga they have maintained a steady hand at the boardroom table and we urge them to keep their eye firmly placed on the core business of selling high quality Queensland sugar to our customers across the world on behalf of the millers and growers of this state.”