Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Call to lobby government over SPC Ardmona support

Members of the Goulburn Valley’s agricultural community will have the opportunity to lobby federal Cabinet to support SPC Ardmona.

January 21, 2014 4:08am

Peter Hall in his Ardmona orchard

Members of the Goulburn Valley’s agricultural community will have the opportunity to lobby federal Cabinet to support SPC Ardmona.

A campaign launched last week by Country News sister paper Shepparton News allows people to contact all Cabinet members by email.

Cabinet will meet on January 30 to decide whether to provide $25million to the embattled food processor.

Mooroopna orchardist and SPCA supplier Peter Hall said the ‘‘game changing’’ investment would allow the company to innovate.

‘‘I’d encourage every community member that can write, tap out an email or jump on Facebook to tell them we need the $25million,’’ Mr Hall said.

‘‘Rather than it being a cash handout it’s a recognition of the value of the industry.’’

According to reports, senior Cabinet ministers are opposed to helping the company for fear of creating a precedent.

More than 250 letters have already been sent from the Shepparton News website.

Earlier this month Federal Member for Murray Sharman Stone took the unusual step of accusing some Cabinet members of being driven by free market ‘‘dogma’’.

Last week Dr Stone encouraged the community to get behind the campaign.

‘‘I think this letter-writing campaign is a great idea, we really need to show cabinet how important SPCA is to our community,’’ she said.

‘‘Cabinet will be meeting on the 30th of January and I will be making another submission to Cabinet when they meet.’’

The campaign follows a number of petitions submitted to Federal Government.

‘‘I have handed two petitions in on behalf of the electorate since the election regarding SPCA not being able to compete with the low-cost imported preserved fruit, with more than 7000 signatures supporting SPCA,’’ Dr Stone said.

‘‘We must continue this fantastic support.’’

Fruitgrowers Victoria general manager John Wilson welcomed the initiative.

‘‘It’s hopeful that the Federal Government will use common sense rather than very dry economic rationale to avoid supporting the community,’’ Mr Wilson said.

‘‘It looks like they’re looking at reasons not to do something that’s very worthwhile rather than reasons for doing it.

‘‘We would hope this would turn their minds.’’

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