Media Release

​Sweet research leadership

29 October 2015

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, today welcomed new appointments to the Sugar Research Australia (SRA) board to guide the productivity, profitability and sustainability of the sugarcane industry.

“The breadth of experience the new chairman and two new board members bring from both within and outside the industry will provide strong leadership at a time of opportunities and challenges for the industry,” Minister Joyce said.

“I thank Mr Paul Wright AM as he ends his tenure at the inaugural chair of SRA, for his excellent leadership during SRA’s establishment phase.

“I also thank board member Mr John Pollock, who resigned from the SRA board earlier this year to take on the position of Chair of SRA’s Research Funding Panel.

“The sugarcane industry’s new industry owned body is already delivering on research challenges—with several projects underway to solve the Yellow Canopy Syndrome affecting central and northern cane-growing areas, collaborating with the best researchers in relevant disciplines.

“Some of SRA’s highlight achievements for 14–15 financial year were the release of the first of SRA’s varieties – SRA1, SRA2 and SRA3 – enhancing the selection of optimally-adapted varieties available to growers, the establishment of a new variety exchange program with Sri Lanka and negotiations with Vietnam for a similar exchange program and the identification of causal agents for Ramu Stunt Disease and Chlorotic Streak with breakthrough research.

“Many regional communities in Queensland and northern NSW prosper from cane production and it is important that the industry maximises its profitability.

“ABARES forecasts indicate mixed fortunes for sugar in 2015-16, with production forecast to rise by 6 per cent to its highest volume since 2006-07 and exports forecast to rise by 9 per cent but plentiful world supplies are keeping the world sugar indicator price down.

“This makes the industry and government’s joint investment in research and development through SRA more important than ever—finding better ways of doing things on-farm and at the mill and maximising returns.

“SRA received just over $6 million in Australian Government matching funds in 2014-15 and $2.2 million from Commonwealth grants.”

The new appointments are:

  • ​Dr Ron Swindells—incoming chairman, former CEO of Mackay Sugar, Manager Millaquin Mill and Bundaberg Refinery for Bundaberg Sugar Company, founding board member of SRA
  • Dr Guy Roth—incoming board member, former CEO Cotton Catchment Communities Cooperative Research Centre, currently running a research and development agribusiness in Narrabri, NSW
  • Mr Ian Sampson—incoming board member, former director of Sugar Research Development Corporation (SRDC) including chair of SRDC Audit and Risk Committee.
Dr Swindells replaces Mr Paul Wright, who has been chair since SRA was formed in 2013. The two new board members have been appointed to vacant positions. Dr Ian Johnsson, who stood for re-election has also been reappointed for the remaining vacancy. 

They join current board members Dr Helen Garnett, Mr Mike Gilmour and Mr Steve Guazzo.

Sugar Research Australia is the research and development services body for the sugar industry, and was created in 2012 following the merger of the Bureau of Sugar Experimental Stations (BSES) and the Sugar Research and Development Corporation SRDC.

For more information on SRA visit:​. ​