Sugar and other industries are losing needed infrastructure to coal
Sugar and other industries are losing needed infrastructure to coal

Sugar industry worth $322m to Qld economy

THE economic value of the Far Northern sugar industry has been quantified in a new report commissioned by the Australian Sugar Milling Council.

Figures collated by Lawrence Consulting estimate Mossman, Mulgrave and Tablelands mills make a direct and indirect economic contribution of $322 million to the economies of four local government areas.

ASMC's director of economics and trade David Rynne said sugar production generated "significant community benefits" in the Cairns, Douglas, Mareeba, Atherton Tablelands and Yarrabah local government areas.

"They pay wages to 779 employees, purchase cane from local sugarcane growers, and also contract many local businesses to provide the goods and services required to run and maintain raw sugar manufacturing," Mr Rynne said.

"Modelling the flow-on effects of the mills' direct expenditure allowed the total (combined direct and indirect) economic impact to be estimated.

"You can't overstate the importance of a direct $2.24 billion injection into the state's economy.

"And the direct payments stimulated a further $1.81 billion flow-on economic boost in sectors from farm and mill inputs to retail. All of this added up to a total of $4.05 billion gross value add and 22,657 jobs for Queensland."

Cairns-based Dawsons Group of Companies began doing engineering work for sugar mills in 1987 and now employees 8500 people across their sugar, marine, power and sugar industries, executive officer Sharon Dawson said.

"When my father started this business in 1987, his first clients were the mills and now with offices and workshops in Cairns, Townsville and Charters Towers, the Dawsons Group is testament to sugar manufacturing's support for local businesses," she said.

Direct expenditure in the 2017-18 financial year totalled $205 million.

This figure can be broken down into $44 million in purchases from non-milling local business, $118 million in purchases from 704 cane enterprises and $43 million in wages to 779 workers at the MSF-operated Mulgrave and Tableland mills and the Mackay Sugar-operated Mossman Mill. An indirect gross regional product flow-on worth $117 million supported an additional 932 jobs.