Daniel Andrews, the leader of the Opposition in Victoria, has pledged $30 million to struggling fruit processor SPC Ardmona if it’s successful in the November election.
The grand gesture comes days after the federal government announced its rejection of the plea from Coca Cola Amatil (SPCA’s owner) for $25 million to assist the brand’s Shepparton cannery.
According to The Age, that $25 million could have prompted a further $25 million from the state government and also up to $161 million in investment from CCA.
Andrews said the state government’s $30 million promise is not a hand-out, but a partnership and will help SPCA buy new equipment and upskill its staff, before asking the premier, Denis Napthine, to match the Opposition’s promise.
''This company and the thousands of jobs that rely on it are too important to lose. Time is running out and it's now up to Denis Napthine to match our offer and support this company and the thousands of workers and growers,” Andrews said.
However, the state government refused, accusing the Opposition of grandstanding but said they would consider offering more assistance – on top of the $4.4 million offered last year – after further discussions with SPC.
'We're certainly not going to commit a blank cheque without a plan attached, which is what Labor has done today. It's typical Labor fashion to spend money you don't have and ask questions later,'' said Victorian treasurer Michael O’Brien.
The working conditions of staff were also put in the spotlight, with the federal government citing the company’s enterprise agreement with workers as a contributor to its reluctance to provide financial assistance.
It was reported that SPC workers are paid up to 58 percent above award wage levels and receive nine weeks’ paid leave.