Bundaberg Regional Council and Bundaberg Sugar have made a joint submission to the State Government seeking a structural transition package for the local sugar industry to diversify, add value and secure jobs.
Mayor Jack Dempsey wrote to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with a proposal to enhance the long-term future of the industry and provide future jobs growth.
“Similar to the $45 million that has been pledged by the state and federal governments in Far North Queensland, we ask that support be provided by the State Government for the Bundaberg Region sugarcane industry,” he said.
Bundaberg Sugar CEO Guy Basile said: “Bundaberg Sugar is excited about the support Council has offered to seek funding from government to enhance the future of our industry.”
“Bundaberg Sugar is keen to play a leading role in developing projects which will create new, sustainable, high-value jobs in diversified sectors, including biofutures,” Mr Basile said.
Biofutures refers to the industrial biotechnology and bioproducts sector. This sector focuses on developing and manufacturing products from sustainable organic or waste resources, rather than fossil fuels.
It includes a range of innovative scientific and industrial technologies designed to convert sustainable feedstocks or waste into bioproducts.
The joint proposal seeks grant funding to research options for Bundaberg Sugar to diversify into new products and sectors of the economy.
Council will also support Bundaberg Sugar applying for funds under the $175 million Jobs and Regional Growth Fund (JRGF).
“Bundaberg Sugar has a proposed cane rail project which will improve transport costs and minimise the use of trucks on local roads,” Mayor Dempsey said.
“The state has previously advised that this cane rail project is ineligible due to the sector not being able to demonstrate future jobs growth.
“We believe that with a commitment to explore a bio future for its mill a new a case for jobs growth can be established.
“This application will seek up to $10 million for Bundaberg Sugar’s cane rail project.”
Mayor Dempsey said Council and Bundaberg Sugar would also ask the state to establish a structural transition capital fund.
“This fund would be available to the region’s sugarcane industry to support capital investment projects necessary to grow and transition into new sectors, products and commercial opportunities,” he said.
“Most importantly, this fund will create new jobs in the region”.
“Applicants would need to demonstrate how their projects will create new, sustainable, high-value jobs in diversified sectors, including bio futures.”
Sugar Terminals Limited have also expressed support.
Isis Central Sugar Mill was invited to join the submission but shareholders are currently considering an investment proposal.
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