The threat to Simplot: 'These people just don't get it'

7.6.13

Voters just can't trust Labor or the Greens to deal with the complex issues surrounding the imminent threat facing Simplot Australia and the hundreds of associated jobs.

Senator for Tasmania Richard Colbeck said the Labor-Green Government had simply ignored repeated warnings from the Coalition, business and industry about increasing costs and government regulation choking the sector.

Now rushing to help are:

- Deputy Premier and Minister for Primary Industries Bryan Green: Who did not know about Simplot's announcement until he was grilled by Liberal Legislative Councillor Leonie Hiscutt in estimates this week. (Fairfax Media, June 5)

- Labor Senator Anne Urquhart: a former Simplot unionist and member of a senate inquiry into Australia's food processing industry. Such is her understanding, she expressed complete ignorance this week that wage costs were an issue to processors such as Simplot. (ABC Rural, June 5 - see quotes below)

- Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson: Who wants to fix things with a place-of-origin sticker when all available research indicates the problems are around cost, scale and market access. The last bright idea on food labelling from the Greens would have stopped some Australian food manufacturers like Cadbury and Anvers Chocolate from putting Made in Australia on their labels. All his solution will do is add more cost to business. (Fairfax Media, June 7)

- Member for Braddon Sid Sidebottom: Who has described Simplot's announcement as a 'friendly shot across the bows'. (ABC News, June 6)

Senator Colbeck, who chaired the Senate committee inquiry into Australia's food processing sector, said: "These people just don't get it.

"If the economics don't stack up then the plant won't survive. We need to take this situation seriously and react meaningfully.

"The Coalition has already identified $1 billion of unnecessary regulation to business. We'll get rid of it.

"The Labor Government is in complete denial about the cost of carbon tax to business, especially sectors such as agriculture and food processing. We'll get rid of that too.

"Labor shipping regulation has added over $1.5 million to Simplot's annual shipping costs.

"We'll also get moving on the things Labor has in its too hard basket - including Free Trade Agreements (FTA) with key partners such as South Korea, Japan and China.

"As Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Mr Sidebottom should quit with the platitudes and explain to his constituents why New Zealand has an FTA with China and we don't. That gives New Zealand a 15% advantage on price into that market.

"This region is in critical need of jobs and economic drivers. We simply cannot afford to have Labor preside over the demise of yet another foundation industry and employer for this region.

"When will Labor and the Greens understand that you just can't keep layering cost onto business and expect it to remain viable?"

Quotes referenced above

Senator Anne Urquhart. 5.6.13, Country Hour.

"There is an EBA I know 'cause I was involved in that when I was working with the union and through all the negotiations that I was aware of during my time with the union, and I'm not sure what's happened since, not once has anybody at the management level raised any issues about penalty rates.

"So it surprises me now that he is actually raising that as an issue given that it hasn't been on the agenda as I said through any of the EBA discussions I was involved with in my time with Simplot and with the union.

TFGA vegetable council chairman Andrew Craigie. 6.6.13, ABC Rural.

"Finally what we've been trying to tell politicians for the last three, five years, ever since McCains went and they want to throw money on a problem that is going to be a Band Aid on a huge festering sore.

"Well the politicians for some strange reason now want to have something to do with this problem and I heard that Anne Urquhart yesterday, Senator Anne Urquhart, say that she was unaware that the labour costs and that were an issue within the Simplot business and within our business as well.

"And yet late last year Joe Ludwig and herself had a meeting with Matt Ryan and myself, and we explained this to them.

"It's very strange - they sort of forget until something really happens."

070613These people just don’t get it
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