In many countries of the world sugar is a luxury of diet. In Australia, as well as being a staple food, it is a political necessity, a defence mechanism for the vulnerable, once unpopulated north Queensland coast. Without the development of sugar, it is doubtful if any other means could have been found to concentrate the population so quickly in towns, to develop ports and railways and generally to occupy all that country along the tropical rainy belt of Queensland.
The Australian sugar industry is a very tightly controlled and regulated industry and has evolved as a model of government and private enterprise co-operation. The reason behind the strict regulation is to enable the industry to run in a stable and orderly manner, and as much as possible to insulate it, and those dependent upon sugar for their livelihood, from the price fluctuations which can occur in a freely produced and uncontrolled commodity.
After Australia's domestic needs have been met, the balance of sugar produced is the exportable surplus. The International Sugar Agreement of 1937, which was signed by Australia and the other principle sugar-exporting countries of the world, fixes quotas for export by each country. Based on Australia's export quota and the quantity consumed by Australians, the Queensland Government Boards determine the amount of sugar to be produced by each mill and the area in which each farmer may grow cane.
Cane is believed to have been brought to Australia with the First Fleet but apparently quickly died out. It was introduced in 1817 and planted at Port Macquarie in 1823. In 1827 Thomas Scott manufactured seventy tons of sugar from the Port Macquarie crop, but it was not until 1866 that production of sugar on a commercial scale really got under way, this time in the Brisbane area.
Whan the sugar industry began to fill the coastal areas it was thought that white labour could never stand up to heavy work in the cane fields under tropical conditions, go Kanaka labour was imported from the islands.
However the ideal of a white Australia was strong, and in 1901 the federal parliament, realizing how much a white labour policy could mean for the protection of North Queensland, passed the Pacific Islands Labourers' Act, by which all Kanakas were to be repatriated to their homes by 1906. .....................................................................