Nationals MP: SPC trumps Holden
Australian-owned companies deserve greater government assistance than foreign-owned corporations, according to National Party MP Andrew Broad.PT5M51S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-31ok4 620 349 January 30, 2014
- Federal politics: full coverage
- 3000 jobs at risk
- Analysis: Malcolm Maiden
- Fruitgrowers fury at decision
- Comment: Want help? Move to a marginal seat
Tony Abbott has drawn a line in the sand on industry assistance and taken a punt that the SPC Ardmona - not his government - will carry the can if the company stops fruit processing at Shepparton.
''David Gonski is not going to let the workers of SPC Ardmona down,'' the Prime Minister declared, repeatedly, of the chairman of the parent company Coca-Cola Amatil, while announcing that the request for a $25 million ''grant'' had been turned down.
David Gonski 'is not going to let down the workers of SPC Ardmona', says PM Tony Abbott. Photo: Angus Mordant
In an emphatic win for Treasurer Joe Hockey, the Abbott cabinet has held true to the principal that it is the role of government to pull the macro policy levers - and of business to meet the costs when restructuring is required.
It has also laid down what the Prime Minister called an ''important marker'' for the approach it will take on industry policy.
This will be welcomed by the policy purists, but lamented by those who argue the company had made a strong business case for the co-investment - one which would have seen the Victorian government match the $25 million contribution.
It is also a rebuff for local member Sharmon Stone, who argued that the request was a ''no brainer'' because SPC Ardmona was in a very different situation to Holden, largely because the car maker lacked the natural advantages of the fruit processor.
While the deal is at odds with the promise to help Cadbury upgrade its chocolate factory in Tasmania, Abbott insists that money was a essentially an investment in tourism infrastructure and a pre-election commitment.
The Prime Minister has challenged the very profitable parent company and the workforce to complete the restructure and re-write an enterprise agreement that on several fronts exceeds the relevant award standard. But the offer of government support in this enterprise is undefined and will be seen as hollow.
The Abbott prediction is that Gonski ''won't let these workers down'' and will want SPC Ardmona to have ''a strong future'' - and that Shepparton will remain a ''dynamic town''. Hopefully, it is predicated on more than his instinct.
If he is wrong and the operation shuts, the locals predict an unemployment rate of 10 per cent. Now it's over to Gonski.