Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie said yesterday’s Federal Cabinet decision not to back SPC Ardmona’s request for government support was disappointing for the company, its workers and the community.
‘‘SPC Ardmona’s request was for once-off support, not subsidisation. This would have been an investment in the future of the Goulburn Valley and Australian food manufacturing,’’ Senator McKenzie said.
‘‘SPC Ardmona is at the heart of the Goulburn Valley economy, there is no doubt this decision will have a devastating effect on the area.’’
The company has been willing to address concerns regarding employment arrangements and physical infrastructure. SPC Ardmona has invested in trialling new products and marketing strategies.
Senator McKenzie said Coca Cola Amatil had backed the Goulburn Valley community and the local skills, knowledge and produce. She said both state and federal governments had also made significant investment in irrigation systems across the region to support the horticulture industry.
‘‘The community has made a concerted effort to address the challenges confronting the processor, with both major supermarkets stocking Goulburn Valley fruit as a result,’’ she said.
‘‘An international trade environment that favoured foreign fruit imports, a high Australian dollar and previous government policies have made it extremely difficult for SPCA to compete,’’ she said.
‘‘I encourage SPC Ardmona management to continue its strong steps towards restructure.’’
Senator McKenzie said a sustainable manufacturing sector was vital for regional Victoria’s future.
‘‘Victorian Nationals leader and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan’s comments yesterday that food production and processing has a strong future in the Goulburn Valley and that SPC Ardmona should be part of this future reflect my own strongly held view,” Senator McKenzie said
‘‘More than 70,000 people work in food and beverage manufacturing in Victoria, which accounts for 47 per cent of Australia’s prepared food products,’’ she said.
‘‘Growing and producing high quality food is where Australia’s competitive advantage lies. Our agricultural and manufacturing capacity will be critical to our ability to take advantage of the Asian food boom.’’
Media contact Kathleen Tonini 0400530027