Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (18:50): I move:
That the Senate take note of the final report of the Sugar Research and Development Corporation.
For many years the Sugar Research and Development Corporation has done magnificent work in research, science and development of Australia's sugar industry. The sugar industry has been a magnificent contributor to the economy of Australia, particularly in my home state of Queensland, for over 100 years. Back when the SRDC was set up, it was envisaged that it would provide additional scientific work towards the sugar industry and help in its ongoing development. That it has been successful is evident from the pre-eminent position the sugar industry holds in Australia's primary industries at the present time. As a result of rearrangements last year, the Sugar Research and Development Corporation was, by the vote of its constituent members, agreed to be wound down. This was then supported by government legislation, which you might recall passed through in the dying minutes of the last parliament and the last government.
The proposal for the new agency to replace the SRDC was that the SRDC and the industry's key research provider, the Bureau of Sugar of Experiments Station Ltd, would be wound together to form a single entity called Sugar Research Australia. It was also proposed that the research coordination activities undertaken by the milling arm of the industry, the milling research consulting body in Sugar Research Ltd, be transferred. The industry decided to bring all elements of research and development, both growers and millers, into one new group—Sugar Research Australia. This organisation commenced operations towards the end of last year.
I look forward to watching the progress of the new organisation and, more importantly, seeing what that organisation does for the ongoing support of, as I say, one of Australia's major primary industries—an industry which has earned billions of export dollars for Australia over the years, which employs hundreds of thousands of people and, indeed, which supports a lot of regional communities up the coast of Queensland and a little bit inland, too, including my home district of the Burdekin and the town of Ayr, where I come from.
I particularly want to take note of this report of the SRDC being its absolutely last report and pay tribute to all of those who have worked with the Sugar Research and Development Corporation over the years, since its inception. The last chairman of the SRDC was the Hon. Ian Causley, whom many in this building will remember as a distinguished member of the other place for many years. Mr Causley was the last in a long line of very significant chairmen of that board who have made a major contribution to the sugar industry.
In talking to this report, I want to simply thank all of those who over the years have made the sugar industry what it is today, and that includes members of the board and staff of the research organisation. In fact, it includes everyone in the sugar industry from mill managers, mill workers and cane farmers to truck drivers and harvester drivers—all those who work the cane farms. Over the years they have contributed to making this a wonderful industry that has meant so much to my state of Queensland. I congratulate all of them on the work they have done during the term of the SRDC, and I wish Sugar Research Australia all the very best in the important role it takes on following the closure of the SRDC.
Question agreed to.