Vic close to SPC bailout deal

13 Feb, 2014 07:40 AM
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Premier Denis Napthine with local MP Wendy Lovell at SPCA.
The Victorian Coalition government remains a strong supporter of SPC and the Goulburn Valley
Premier Denis Napthine with local MP Wendy Lovell at SPCA.

A $20 million handout for SPC Ardmona could be sealed by the end of the week as the Victorian government battles to keep the company's fruit processing operation afloat.

The future of the Shepparton cannery is in doubt after the federal government refused to honour a commitment from its Labor predecessor to provide $25 million for an upgrade.

That deal, signed days before last September's federal election, would also have meant a $25 million contribution from the Victorian government.

The status of that state contribution is unclear and some sources suggest it was never finalised. The Australian Financial Review understands negotiations have continued between SPC ­Ardmona and the state.

Sources said a figure of about $20 million has been offered to the food producer but that negotiations around the terms and conditions were still being finalised. Following media reports on Wednesday that the government had signed a $30 million deal, ­Premier Denis Napthine denied the package and said he made a "passing reference" to SPC Ardmona when he met with Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Tuesday. He also refused to say if an agreement would be reached soon.

"The government is having ongoing discussions with SPC and Coca-Cola Amatil," Dr Napthine said.

A spokesman for Peter Ryan, Victoria's Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development, said: "The Victorian Coalition government remains a strong supporter of SPC and the Goulburn Valley region."

On ABC Radio, Mr Ryan refused to say how much had been offered to the fruit processor. "The initial issue is as to whether these constructive discussions can conclude with an agreement between the parties," Mr Ryan said. "That is still a matter under conversation at the present time."

SPC Ardmona and Coca-Cola Amatil refused to comment.

A decision on the plant's continued viability is expected to be made at a company board meeting next week.

Last week Victorian Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said if elected his government would contribute $30 million in assistance to SPC Ardmona.

The prospect of a closure of the plant sparked off a fierce debate about industry assistance. Dr Napthine has split with Mr Abbott, arguing that "co-investment" with a company was not ­corporate welfare.

The Premier is under intense ­pressure over job losses in the state's heavy industrial base, especially after car makers GM Holden, Toyota ­Australia and Ford Australia all announced they would cease manufacturing in Australia.

There are also serious questions over the future of Alcoa's Point Henry smelter and Shell's refinery at Geelong.

AFR
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READER COMMENTS

Tigerdicky
13/02/2014 10:33:00 AM

Abbott! This is what we call the Aussie way - looking after your own! Well done the Victorian Government!
sharon oates
13/02/2014 7:44:48 PM

Well Done Victorian government SPC is an Aussie icon
Bushie Bill
14/02/2014 5:39:49 AM

So, a transfer of funds from Victorian mums and dads struggling to meet daily living and earning minimum wages is needed to support multiple-million dollar bonuses, on top of equally outrageous multi-million dollar salaries, for executives of one of the largest and most successful companies in the world is the way to go? Agricultural socialism and it's ugly sister, political populism, live on, at the expense of the wheel that does not squeak. One day the populists and the intellectually lazy will pay the appropriate price, and it will be exquisitely delightful to watch.
Qlander
14/02/2014 7:38:25 AM

I've been waiting for that my entire adult live Bushie. Now I say, when you can't beat em join em.
Jacky
14/02/2014 8:40:39 AM

Drink more Coke!
laughable
14/02/2014 8:52:59 AM

Is this right? taxpayers in Victoria, are handing over money to a company to make products they have stopped buying? Are they aware the Unions and CCA have caused much of the disaster to the brand by installing workers pay and conditions way over the odds? Did they make their hand out conditional upon reforms to those outrageous conditions? If not they ought to be strung up for absolute brainlessness.
Frank Blunt
14/02/2014 10:41:41 AM

Tax dollars are for roads , hospitals and general infrastructure for the public , not propping up and helping multinationals be it Coca Cola or Cadbury.
Frank Blunt
17/02/2014 6:39:28 AM

Instead of a handout have a buyout . It should be fully funded and Australian owned with Australian fruit supporting Australian farmers .
Eddie Randle
17/02/2014 8:23:22 AM

In my opinion when the government gives away large lumps of taxpayers money to people and companies it might be time to publish a list of who is getting that money.
Mark
19/02/2014 3:27:30 PM

My tax dollars going down the SPC drain. What next?
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