On 1 Aug 2013 your Vice Chair Diana Abiad and JAMARR Secretary John Brisbin fronted to Tablelands Regional Council to present JAMARR’s statement of concerns and request for Council action. A copy of the presentation as tabled is attached here.
The meeting was well-attended with at least 15 residents lining the gallery. Councillors received the presentation respectfully and several showed genuine support (esp Cr Taylor). A motion was carried to ask for Council staff to respond to JAMARR’s information requests promptly.
Following our presentation, Mr Haydn Slattery, manager of Mackay Sugar’s Mossman Mill, gave a presentation. He repeated Mackay Sugar’s stated intentions to increase overall cane production in the area, aiming for 2M tons, which would fill both mills to capacity.
He used the expression “supporting grower’s choice” when referring to the contract with the Tablelands farmers. He did not acknowledge that the Arriga mill owners have improved their offer to growers, allowing them to market through the QSL.
Cr Taylor questioned Mr Slattery’s lack of engagement with ratepayer concerns over public safety, amenity, and road damage (especially on the back roads proposed for heavy truck access).
The Mackay Sugar Comms Officer responded that the proposed Community Working Group was intended to address residents concerns.
The question was then asked if there was any room for negotiation on the amount of cane being proposed for hauling. There was no direct answer on this point, but it was clear that Mackay’s first priority is to meet its aspirations to crush 700,000 tons of cane from the Tablelands.
Since this was an official Council meeting, questions from the floor were not invited. Nonetheless, several residents insisted on letting their frustrations loose in the meeting.
Mayor Long closed the presentation and we were ushered out. It was agreed that Di delivered the presentation in excellent style: strong, intelligent, and passionate…yet disciplined. Some direct communications between long-time JAMARR members and the Mackay Sugar reps took place before people dispersed.