New sugar research body gathers momentum

SUGARCANE growers and millers will see or hear more about  the next steps in establishing Sugar Research Australia the industry's new research organisation this month.

Sugar Research Australia is scheduled to start on July 1 with activities and assets from BSES and SRDC and aspects of the milling research agency, SRL.

Last August 3381 sugarcane growers and eight milling companies voted to support the establishment of Sugar Research Australia Limited. It is to be backed by a statutory levy, paid equally (35c by the grower and 35c by the miller) on each tonne of cane delivered in place of the current BSES fees and SRDC levy.

Deputy Chair ASA and Director of the Australian Sugar Milling Council Craig Doyle said sugarcane growers and millers had been working together for over two years to achieve a new strong research company with performance and cost benefits for the whole industry and its regions.

"Over the next months, all the sugar industry - growers, millers, researchers and staff should see and, at times, be involved in the next major steps towards the start of SRA," he said.

Key actions underway

  • Sugar Research Australia chair and directors. These new roles were advertised in mid February. There have been many applications and interviewing will take place in four weeks' time. The new board will likely be formed in early May 2013. Expressions of Interest were also sought in February for the SRA Research funding panel.
  • With the chair and directors identified, Sugar Research Australia Limited, the company, would be registered in early May, well in time for all the transitioning of activities, staff and assets needed for SRA to operate fully from July 2013.
  • Detailed inputs are being provided to the Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to assist the levy legislation process over March to June.
  • From mid March, communication and consultation sessions will be held involving staff of current organisations  in Brisbane and across locations on staffing arrangements being developed for Sugar Research Australia as a modern research management and research company with aligned focus and a new charter and culture.
  •  Sugar Research Australia should start with about 150 staff roles. It is expected almost all SRA positions will be filled by staff in existing sugar research organisations. At the senior level, the organisation structure of SRA will need to differ from BSES to fulfil functions set out in the ASA documents on forming Sugar Research Australia.           A number of new or substantially changed SRA positions are to be advertised late in March 2013 including for a director of the SRA research funding unit and unit staff.
  • Processes for transfer of assets into SRA are also underway. ASA welcomes the advice from BSES directors that they will convene a special general meeting of BSES grower and milling company members on 10 April 2013. The BSES directors will move a resolution that BSES members agree to transfer the BSES assets and liabilities into the new industry owned company, Sugar Research Australia Limited, soon after the company is formed. This is a key step in the process toward SRA.

Australian Sugar Industry Alliance chair Alf Cristaudo said these were important moves forward for the thousands of people involved in the Australian Sugar Industry in Queensland and Northern NSW.

"We are now well into the detail of implementing the sugar research, development and extension reform package agreed by industry leaders in October 2011 and backed by a large majority of the industry through the Sugar Poll 2012 YES vote," he said.

Topics:  sugar poll sugar research sugar research australia

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