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$25 million co-investment helps secure Aussie food processing jobs



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Campaign Media Release

Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Kim Carr

Candidate for Murray Rod Higgins

$25 MILLION CO-INVESTMENT HELPS SECURE AUSSIE FOOD PROCESSING JOBS

Australia’s last fresh fruit processor, SPC Ardmona, faces a more certain future after the Rudd Labor Government today committed to back the company’s modernisation plan and help secure up to 3,000 Aussie jobs with a $25 million co-investment.

SPC Ardmona’s future has been under threat from the high Australian dollar and intense competition from imports.

Industry Minister, Senator Kim Carr said Federal Labor had moved to give more certainty to the Company and the thousands of workers, and hundreds of growers, who depend on it for their livelihoods.

“Without a serious upgrade to its operations SPC Ardmona has said it may be forced to close in mid-2014.

“This would be an enormous blow to the thousands of workers the company employs and those in the agricultural supply chain and would result in a significant loss in grower activities in the region.

“Federal Labor is not going to stand by and see this happen.

“SPC Ardmona is one of Australia’s best known household names and generations of Australians have enjoyed its products and been employed in regional jobs with the company.

“We are not going to bail out the company but we will back them with $25 million in Federal Labor Government assistance, if they are prepared to reinvest and commit to a long-term future in Australia and long-term jobs for Australians.

“I am also calling on the Victorian Government to acknowledge the importance of this investment and to match our support dollar for dollar.”

Labor candidate for Murray Rod Higgins said SPC Ardmona was an important part of the local economy.

“SPC Ardmona directly employs around 1,500 people currently on a casual and full time basis and supports a total 2,700 jobs in the Murray Goulburn region.

“Their restructuring and upgrade plan will consolidate operations to Shepparton, upgrade technology and create new product capacity and packaging options as well as strengthening its supply chain.”

Minister Carr said it was a plan which could ensure the future of the company in the Murray Goulburn and open up new market and export opportunities.

“I welcome the strong financial commitment from SPC Ardmona’s parent company, Coca-Cola Amatil to the project and to manufacturing in Australia.”

SPC Ardmona currently operates across three sites in Shepparton, Kyabram and Mooroopna in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley.

Federal Labor Government funding for the project would be provided on the basis of agreed conditions with the company, including:

• A commitment from SPC Ardmona and Coca-Cola Amatil to maintain operations in Australia for an agreed period.

• A business plan for continuing operations.

• Repayment provisions in the event of closure of the Shepparton facility prior to an agreed date.

• A clear stipulation that the funding cannot be used to provide for redundancies, any executive bonuses, payment of dividends or the paying down of existing debt.

In parallel to this support, the Rudd Labor Government has also tasked the Productivity Commission with undertaking separate safeguard inquiries into the impact of imports of processed fruit and tomatoes on Australian producers.

An investigation by the Australian Anti-Dumping Commission into peaches imported from South Africa and tomatoes imported from Italy has also commenced.

The Productivity Commission will deliver a final report by September 20.

The Anti-Dumping Commission will make its preliminary determination as early as mid-September with the final report expected to the Minister for Home Affairs in early December 2013.

Funding for this commitment is already included in the budget.

2 SEPTEMBER 2013

Communications Unit: T 03 8625 5111 www.alp.org.au

Authorised by G. Wright, Australian Labor Party, 5/9 Sydney Avenue, Barton, ACT, 2600