SPC decision doesn't pose local threat

MOUNT Alexander Shire mayor Michael Redden says local growers will not be impacted by the SPC Ardmona decision, which sees the 93-year-old company at risk.

SPC Armonda wanted a $25 million federal grant, topped up by $25 million of state government funds and its own $150 million investment, for new product development and technology to prop up its operation.

The federal cabinet has rejected the plan, with Victorian Premier Denis Napthine yesterday saying the state was looking at a "plan B" to keep SPC Ardmona alive. 

Mayor Redden said while he could not see the situation having a impact on Harcourt apple growers, it would have "great ramifications" in regards to jobs and the state's economy. 

"I'm horrified by the lack of concern for regional growers and it should absolutely be on the national agenda," he said. 

"I'm hugely concerned and sympathetic for the people affected in Shepparton but I don't think it will have a direct parallel impact on our growers. 

"The connection will come via the need to redesign the whole activity and it does change the circumstances for growers."

SPC Ardmona employs 700 people at the Shepparton cannery but the jobs of up to 5000 people in the Goulburn Valley are at stake if the company folds.

The companies say the federal government's decision means that the $25 million grant from Victoria, which was conditional on a positive federal response, will not be forthcoming.

Dr Napthine said his government had supported strategic co-investment with the owners of SPC Ardmona but the federal decision meant the state had to re-examine its position.

"We want to have positive discussions with the aim of trying to preserve this production company."

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has used the rejection to set an important "marker" for how his government will deal with requests for industry assistance.

- with THE AGE

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