SPCA decision a numbers game

When Tony Abbott announced Cadbury's bailout promise, there were swinging seats up for grabs

IT APPEARS SPC Ardmona's (SPCA) fate comes down to numbers.

At first Prime Minister Tony Abbott claimed it was not the government's job to give handouts to a company like SPCA, which he said couldn't stand up to the Manufacturing Workers Union and paid workers more than it could afford.

As it turned out, SPCA workers earned an average of $50,000 a year - $13,000 less than the average manufacturer's wage in Australia - and the excessive allowances he highlighted added up to less than the company's phone bill in 2013 - or 0.01 per cent of its overall profit.

But while announcing the days of corporate welfare were over in Australia, Mr Abbott was happy to write out a $16 million cheque to Cadbury for factory upgrades in Tasmania.

Mr Abbott lambasted Coca Cola Amatil (CCA) for not propping up SPCA - in which it holds only a 29pc share - yet Cadbury is owned by Mondelez (formerly Kraft).

This multinational's $1.5 billion profit in 2012-13 dwarfs that of CCA, which was less than $500m - not to mention Mondelez recently invested $190m in an Indian chocolate refinery but refused to upgrade the Tasmanian plant.

Still, the Federal Coalition argued Tasmania's struggling economy and reliance on tourism warranted the corporate welfare.

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, 7.7pc of Tasmanians are unemployed - the most of all States and well above the 5.8pc national average.

But Shepparton too suffers a lack of jobs, sporting an 8.5pc unemployment rate that would, according to the Productivity Commission, rise two more points to 9.5pc if SPCA was to go under.

But still the government stays on the tourism bandwagon.

How about political power?

The Cadbury factory sits in the marginal seat of Denison, which is held by Independent MP Andrew Wilkie.

When Mr Abbott announced Cadbury's bailout promise as part of the Economic Growth Plan for Tasmania just before the federal election, there were swinging seats up for grabs, three of which the Coalition won.

Not so in the federal electorate of Murray, where Sharman Stone holds one of the safest Liberal seats in the country and has done so since 1996.

Perhaps these are the numbers the buck really stops at.

Dannika Bonser

Dannika Bonser

is a journalist for Stock & Land
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


7/02/2014 9:43:23 AM

Yep safe seat = dumb voters
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