, ,


Pic borrowed from SPC Ardmona Web Site – with thanks

Story by Emmjay

It’s not often that I can agree with Joe Hockey, assuming that he’s not misinformed,  simply telling lies or shading the truth about bailing out SPC Ardmona.

But if what he said IS true, and that he is unwilling to spot the company a piddling $25M (supposed to be matched by the Victorian citizens who apparently get to kick in twice) AND that SPC Ardmona is owned by Coca Cola Amatil (he alleges made $150M profit for the half year), I reckon, like Joe’s generous body language suggested, the company can go and whistle for their lunch.

Good enough for the Abbott government to tell GMH to piss off ?  Good enough to tell Coca Cola Amatil to do the same.

But typical of all Tory governments, in both cases, the Abbott government by ignoring the consequent impact on growers, rural communities and working families from the direct and flow-on effects of massive job losses,  is simply and utterly contemptible.  It is unacceptable.

Unacceptable to trash national industries without bothering to contemplate alternative business models.

Now I for one don’t put my money where my mouth is as far as buying locally built cars is concerned.  I did once.  It was a Ford Laser- which was really just a Mazda 323 assembled in Australia.  In the last 15 years we have had only 2 cars – Subaru Forresters – something utterly reliable, useful and fun to drive – and recently an Alfa – which is beautiful and fun to drive too.  Until GM started making similar models to the Forrester (but bigger, more expensive, less economical to run and less technically advanced) there was no locally made product we wanted to buy.  Moreover, I was comfortable that other people bought the local monsters and kept the American and Japanese-owned industry afloat, albeit with sizeable taxpayer-funded subsidies.

But SPC Ardmona is different.  This is an iconic Australian group, now owned by Coca Cola Amatil, those guardians of Australian health and well being (the group also includes IXL, Goulburn Valley and …. wait for it …… Weight Watchers and others).  SPC Ardmona is a rurally – concentrated business.

I do purchase their products in preference to mainly cheaper home brand imports from all over the world.  I admit this is not all altruism on my part.  I strongly suspect that canned foods from wherever quite possibly have lax quality controls and are produced with little or no environmental protection laws – and the producers work doing extreme physical labour for slave wages. How else can the products be grown, processed, shipped, stored, wholesaled and retailed for less money than the same foods grown in Australia ?

I have seen documentaries showing indiscriminate use of pesticides in 3rd world countries -pesticides and the like that are now banned in the West.  Worse than that, the documentaries show peasant farmers throwing the stuff around like confetti – no awareness of proper application rates and a huge risk to their personal well being and the future of their children.  Pesticides manufactured by notoriously uncaring multinational corporations getting away with whatever they can.  It doesn’t bear thinking about from where most of our coffee comes and how it is produced.

I generally trust Australian producers and regulatory authorities as much as one can trust anybody these days.  I am glad that our producers do not work for slave wages and that farm production generates lots of flow-on employment.  I am happy to pay a bit more for these products.

But I am not happy to see this Tory government hang the growers and workers of SPC Ardmona products out to dry. The government is right to tell Coca Cola Amatil to go and take a hike.  Like GM, Ford and probably many others ripping off the Australian taxpayers, they have had their snouts in the corporate troughs for long enough.

And these monsters have no right to blackmail Australian governments of any persuasion by threatening job losses.

No more massive subsidies for foreign-owned companies.  Especially to protect them from the free-trade flowing from agreements made by the self same governments.

What then can be done ?

Well, if $50M will keep the last significant Australian fruit cannery alive, let the local stakeholders have the SPC Ardmona business – make it a co-op (once again ?) call the bluff of Coca Cola Amatil.  Increase the tax on Amatil and the other tobacco companies and provide a direct support line of credit until SPC Ardmona get clear of their difficulties.

Surely $50M is trivial money for a national government and for multinational companies – struth, it’s what Gina spends on morning tea.

And Joe spends entertaining Annabel Crabb.