Napthine 'very disappointed' by federal response to SPC
Premier Denis Napthine says Victoria is committed to helping SPC Ardmona survive the company's downturn, unlike the federal government. Nine News.PT1M36S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-31raz 620 349 January 31, 2014
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine has pledged to work closely with SPC Ardmona and its parent company Coca-Cola Amatil to develop a ''Plan B'' to ensure the survival of the iconic Goulburn Valley food processor.
The federal government made their decision yesterday and we in Victoria are very disappointed with that decision.
After meeting with company managers, workers and local government leaders in Shepparton on Friday, Dr Napthine said all options were on the table.
SPC Ardmona's bid for $25 million assistance has been turned down. Photo: Andrew De La Rue
Although SPC Ardmona faced ''a very challenging situation'', Dr Napthine said the Goulburn Valley had a ''strong future'' as a food bowl for Australia and the world.
But he did not say - as local farmers have called for - whether the state government would stump up the $25 million of assistance SPC Ardmona had requested from the federal government. The request was rejected by Tony Abbott's government on Thursday after a lengthy federal cabinet discussion.
''We would like to work with SPC Ardmona, and Coca-Cola Amatil, to look at what opportunities there may be to examine Plan B - to deliver those economies of scale, those efficiencies, those productivity savings to provide ongoing viable food production here in the Goulburn Valley,'' Dr Napthine said.
''The Goulburn Valley is one of the most naturally rich areas anywhere in the world. They have beautiful soils, great sunshine, magnificent upgraded irrigation systems that provide local growers the best opportunity to produce high-quality fruit ... and fruit which is the cleanest, greenest, highest-quality fruit anywhere in the world,'' he said.
In a press conference outside the cannery, where he was flanked by his state parliamentary Coalition colleagues Jeanette Powell and Wendy Lovell, as well as federal Liberal MP Sharman Stone, Dr Napthine described SPC Ardmona's products as being of ''fantastic quality'' and urged shoppers to buy more of them.
''I believe there is a strong future for Shepparton and the Goulburn Valley as a food bowl for Victoria, Australia, the world and particularly the growing Asian economies,'' he said.
Dr Napthine said Victoria was ''very disappointed'' by the federal government's decision not to contribute $25 million to help the company modernise its operations.
''The federal government made their decision yesterday and we in Victoria are very disappointed with that decision. However, we do not believe that there is nothing further that can be done. This morning we discussed further meetings and further opportunities for the Victorian government to work productively with SPC Ardmona and their parent company Coca-Cola Amatil,'' he said.
''The situation facing SPC Ardmona is challenging, we understand that. We in Victoria made it very clear that ... our government supported strategic investment, co-investment, with the owners of SPC Ardmona to improve efficiency, to improve productivity and to provide long-term sustainable jobs and economic benefit to the Goulburn Valley region,'' he said.
He said CCA was a large multi-national food company that had ''significant resources''.
SPC Ardmona workers, meanwhile, are sad and disappointed after the federal government's rejection of the company's bid.
Workers filing into the company's Shepparton cannery on Friday morning expressed their frustration, with one saying that the district's status as a "safe seat" counted against it.
"It's a bit sad, it's a bit sad," was all one man was prepared to say as he walked towards the cannery entrance.
Another labelled Prime Minister Tony Abbott's knockback as "pretty disappointing".
Many workers approached by Fairfax Media said they were unable to speak about the controversial decision, which potentially has a huge bearing on their own future, as well as that of the Goulburn Valley.
But some made brief comments, like this one: "It's a safe seat, that's the problem."