Transcript - Press Conference - Jeftomson FRUITCo announcement - Shepparton - 14 March 2019

With:

The Hon Damian Drum MP, Member for Murray

Mr Peter Thompson, Director, Geoffrey Thompson Fruit Packing Pty Ltd

E&OE

Subjects: $15 million Federal funding for fruit processing in Goulburn Valley; building better regions; marketing of Australian fruit; power generation; Federal Liberal and Nationals’ Government; Mitiamo pipeline project

DAMIAN DRUM:

Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen for being here this morning. It’s an incredible honour to host the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia Michael McCormack here, to Jeftomson to announce the co-investment from the Australian Government and the FRUITCo co-operative with a $15 million injection into a new packhouse sorting facility right here in the Goulburn Valley. As we all understand the Goulburn Valley is one of the leading, if not the leading region in Australia for apple and pear production, along with a whole range of other fruits as well including tomatoes. And the difference between wisdom and knowledge is that if you’re very, very smart you understand that a tomato is a fruit, but wisdom will tell you not to put it into a fruit salad.

This co-investment is something that’s been long needed by the fruit industry. We are very, very competitive when it comes to all of our farming practices, very competitive when it comes to picking our fruit. We lose against some of our competitor nations on the world market when it comes to our sorting and our packhouse abilities. This investment, predominantly by Jeftomson, is going to see Australia and the Goulburn Valley bridge that gap. And it’s great that the Federal Government has been able to find this $15 million investment to co-invest with the Goulburn Valley and the horticultural industry and we are very, very confident this is going to be an incredible shot in the arm, a real boost for the orchardists in the Goulburn Valley.

We all understand how important it is not just for the farmers on the land, but also with the flow-on industries associated with fruit right here in Shepparton. So with that, I’d like to hand over now to Michael and to let him take you through the process that led to, from meetings in Canberra onto other meetings in Canberra and more meetings in Canberra, to fantastic representation from Gary and from Peter to make sure that the Government is fully aware of just how important this project is going to be to the future of fruit and horticulture in the Goulburn Valley. So Michael.

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

Thank you Damian. The Goulburn Valley has needed this commitment, this investment for years. Damian Drum has delivered and I know how excited the local Mayor is as well. Shepparton has really been crying out for this sort of investment, this sort of commitment and as I say again, Damian Drum has been a champion of this. He's worn the carpet out into my office making sure that I knew just how important it was. Of course, FRUITCo Jeftomson people also lobbied hard for this. We saw that this was good investment. We saw that this was going to generate hundreds of jobs, many, many jobs in the construction phase, but indeed, following on from the completion of the construction, when the packing house facility is up and running, the efficiencies, the productivity that is going to be gained from this investment is going to be quite remarkable. It's going to be transformational and I know how exciting this is going to be for the local area, for the Goulburn Valley.

I come from an irrigation district and I know how hard these communities have done it in recent years, but this is going to mean such a difference for the orchardists, it's going to mean such a difference for this company, it's going to mean such a difference for everybody involved. But also it's going to make such a difference for the cafes, for the schools, for the entire local community because when you grow local communities, you grow local jobs, you grow community capacity. This is a fantastic announcement - $15 million is going to potentially yield more than $50 million in additional exports and $50 million in additional arrangements through export opportunities. That's why we work so hard to make sure that we have the right export opportunities and Damian and my colleagues, Minister for Trade Simon Birmingham and Mark Coulton – the Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment – are forever looking overseas for more export opportunities. And when we've got the world's best pears and apples and other produce being produced right out of the Goulburn Valley, being produced right out of Victoria, we need more export opportunities and we need better efficiencies. As Damian has said, we grow the best fruit, we grow the best vegetables, we grow the best produce. But when it comes to the packing house facilities, sometimes that's where we lose efficiencies. That's where we lose our export opportunities as far as being able to do them in an efficient way and this is going to be transforming just that. It's going to make it more viable, it's going to make it greater efficiency-wise and the productivity will increase. The job numbers will increase, the export opportunities will increase and everybody in the local area will benefit from it.

So Damian Drum has done an outstanding job in campaigning for this, in making sure that I realised just what an important investment it is and I look forward very much to seeing the first sod turned, very much to seeing the packing house being built and very much to seeing the packing house completed, the efficiencies gained and the jobs being created. It’s fantastic.

[Applause]

DAMIAN DRUM:

Okay. Now, happy to have questions.

JOURNALIST:

Any idea when the packing house will be up and running?

DAMIAN DRUM:

We can throw to Pete for that answer.

PETER THOMPSON:

Yes. We hope to place orders imminently, and we hope to be able to have our first deliveries probably mid next year, late next year and hopefully be running for 2021.

JOURNALIST:

So how big is the investment in total and what’s the Government input?

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:

The Government input’s $15 million, it’s probably about $55 million all up.

JOURNALIST:

And Michael McCormack, your Government’s been accused of giving money for projects like this in a lot of Coalition seats, not many Labor or Independent seats; is that a fair criticism of projects like this?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

Well the fact is the National Party and the Liberal Party hold more rural and regional seats than do any other Party. I was in Tasmania yesterday and the Government there was being accused of pork-barrelling the seat of Denison. Now we don’t hold the seat of Denison, it’s being held by an Independent who has quite often, in fact, almost on every occasion – hasn’t he Damian – voted with Labor.

If funding rural and regional seats – which quite frankly carry this country – we’re going to be accused of being unfair by doing that, well I’ll take that accusation every day of the week. We want to invest in rural and regional Australia. We want to invest in places such as Shepparton. We want to invest in the Goulburn Valley. We want to make sure that these places not only survive but indeed thrive because when the regions are strong, so too is Victoria. When Victoria strong, so too is our nation. We want to make sure our regions can be their best selves and Damian and I won't shy away from investing in good projects, investing in our country towns, investing in our regions and we'll keep doing it and we'll take great pride in doing just that.

JOURNALIST:

Would you put money like this into Indi?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

We're putting money into every regional seat. Indi has done very, very well over many, many years because it too is a highly productive area. The northeast of Victoria, indeed all of rural Victoria, punches well above its weight when it comes to growing fruit, growing just about everything. We have the very best soils. The weather's been pretty harsh of late but drought notwithstanding our agricultural output has still stood up, only just slightly less than the $60 billion of output last year. It's done reasonably well considering the drought and we've supported our farmers to the tune of nearly $7 billion in drought assistance.

We’ll go on standing shoulder to shoulder with our farming communities to make sure they get through this drought, and look out when they do because it’s packing house facilities such as this, it's investments such as this, and it's the export markets that we've opened up such as the one just recently with Indonesia following on from other free trade agreements right around the globe. Our farmers are the best in the world. They get a bad rap sometimes from the Sydney media on environmental concerns but I say again and again, our farmers are the very best environmentalists in the world. They're the freshest, the greenest, the cleanest in the world and we'll continue to grow the very best food and fruit out of Goulburn Valley - and it will only be enhanced with what we've just announced.

JOURNALIST:

Is this picking winners, investing in a single [indistinct]?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

Absolutely it’s picking winners. Jeftomson is a winner. The Goulburn Valley is a winner. Damian Drum is a winner. This area is in a winner. So too is all of regional Victoria. So too is all regional Australia.

JOURNALIST:

Mr McCormack, what about the competitors of [indistinct]?

DAMIAN DRUM:

I’ll answer. Just on this, right from the very start of this project, we’ve been very, very clear that this has to be an industry-wide investment. So we have letters of support from 12 of our leading growers and orchardists in this region, effectively saying: you build this and we will use it on a fee for service arrangement; and a long term agreement with SPC for them also to use this facility. So I think We have to make sure we’re not complacent. Everyone in Australia likes to think that we grow this amazing fruit that no-one else can grow and we do grow amazing fruit, we grow amazing produce. But other countries like Spain and Italy and New Zealand also grow amazing fruit and at the moment they’re in front of us in their world-class efficiencies when it comes to finding export markets. So this is all about Australia making sure that we are not complacent and that we are giving our farmers who grow the best produce or are up there with the others and grow the very best produce, it’s giving them a real chance to take their industry forward and take this region and this town forward in the same breath. So let’s understand this for what it is. It’s only about seven years ago where this Government was criticised relentlessly for not investing in the fruit industry and we’re not going to make that mistake again.

JOURNALIST:

You said that you hope this will hope create hundreds of jobs; do you have a more specific figure in mind?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

There’s been some modelling done and that modelling has shown that about 1350 jobs could be created directly and indirectly as a result of this investment.

JOURNALIST:

Was that building it or workers [indistinct]?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

That’s workers but that's also right across the town. This isn't just going to be a beneficiary felt right here in the packing shed, it's going to be right across the town. And as I said before, what it does, it puts more investment in such places as farm, agricultural businesses, mostly small business - all small businesses right throughout the town. Indeed, schools benefit because more families come to Shepparton, come to the Goulburn Valley to take advantage of the fact that there are more jobs available. And when schools grow, when we've got cafes doing nicely, we've got central business districts doing well, it's just a win-win all round.

DAMIAN DRUM:

The other aspect of this particular investment also is the optimum utilisation of every piece of fruit. So, if you can imagine somebody that grows for fresh, but they have a couple of pale blemishes, a couple of little spots on that bit of fresh, it is no longer available to be used for fresh. Under the current arrangement, that piece of fruit probably gets juiced or pulped at a very low value. To actually have more of a co-operative approach where every piece of fruit, through a highly sophisticated packing and sorting arrangement, is going to find its way to its highest potential value – this again is further transformation in the industry where we're actually going to find that people who might be growing for juice or might be growing for pulp have an incredible bumper crop of beautiful fruit that might be able to be used for fresh. It means higher values; slightly blemished fruit might be able to go into preservatives. With this facility that optimisation of value of every piece of fruit is something that we need to be very, very aware of as well.

JOURNALIST:

The National Party has been going around announcing a lot of jobs for regional Australia this week…

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

That’s true.

JOURNALIST:

…through the decentralisation of the Murray Darling Basin Authority. Why not jobs for Shepparton today?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

It is jobs for Shepparton day. We've just announced a $15 million investment in this new packing shed. That's going to create jobs for Shepparton. That's going to create jobs for the Goulburn Valley. I appreciate the Murray Darling Basin Authority can't be in absolutely every single entity right throughout the Murray Darling Basin. It is a huge basin. Fact is, we’ve yesterday announced jobs for Murray Bridge, for Mildura, and for Griffith.

Look, it is sensible and a commonsense investment by Canberra, by the Federal Government to make sure that the jobs for the Murray Darling Basin are where the Murray Darling Basin is  - making sure that the people who make the decisions on behalf of irrigators are in those irrigation communities. And I appreciate that Shepparton is a massive irrigation community…

JOURNALIST:

[Interrupts] Damian Drum wanted the whole organisation moved here when he was elected.

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

And sure, and so did many other Members of Parliament, but at the end of the day, it was based on independent analysis that was provided to the Agriculture Minister and we've got to go on that advice. I appreciate that Shepparton is a vibrant irrigation community. We want to make sure that it not only survives but indeed thrives into the future, and that's why I'm announcing this $15 million investment today. That's why I'm here with Damian Drum announcing an investment in job security for Shepparton. Shepparton’s going well. It can only go better with this sort of investment. We want to make sure that Shepparton absolutely thrives into the future. That's why I'm here today making this investment and this announcement.

JOURNALIST:

On another issue, the Prime Minister said the Government has no plans to underwrite new coal generation. Do you agree?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

The fact is coal provides two thirds of Australia’s energy needs. The fact is coal provides $66 billion worth of export opportunities for Australia. And the fact is I'm working through with the Prime Minister at the moment about how we can make sure that we can manage our energy needs in the future whilst at the same time not de-industrialising Australia.

Bill Shorten has a plan to have 45 per cent emissions reduction targets, 50 per cent renewable targets. And the fact is, Bill Shorten does not support, does not support, does not support the coal industry or the coal workers. How is he going to help pay for his $200 billion worth of new taxes if he takes away $66 billion of our exports? The fact is, we've got a sensible, rational, pragmatic approach to Australia's energy needs and our energy sources that we're going to need into the future, and there has to be a mix. There has to be a mix of traditional coal fired power stations. There has to be a mix of renewables - we’ll work out through a sensible, rational, policy position which we have at the moment and which we’ll certainly work on in the future, to make sure that we meet our energy needs, to make sure that when companies such as this need their power, they can flick the switch and it happens. Under Labor these sorts of companies are only going to pay higher power bills and it's not just companies such as this, it's irrigators - they're going to be paying a lot more right through the nose if Bill Shorten ever becomes the Prime Minister of this nation.

JOURNALIST:

Well, that declaration by the Prime Minister, though, do you believe it’ll make it difficult for your MPs in Queensland to retain their seats?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

Our MPs in Queensland are working very hard. And look at the contrast- compare what the contrast is to our hardworking members such as George Christensen, Ken O’Dowd, Michelle Landry, Llew O'Brien, Keith Pitt, David Littleproud - look at the contrast between what Labor offers and what the Greens offer and them. They are working hard. They're delivering. They're achieving great things. Yes, they stand up for their workers. Yes, they stand up for coal mines. I stand up with them. I stand beside them as well. They want to make sure that there is a future for their coal mining workers. They want to make sure that there’s an opportunity there in the future for our exports through coal.

$66 billion - how is Bill Shorten going to pay for the schools and the education promises that he's making here, the empty promises that he's spruiking, if he takes away $66 billion from our exports? How is he going to pay for these things? And how are Labor going to ever make it affordable for people, when they flick the switch on to get power, to be able to pay for it? The power won't be there in the first place, let alone being able to pay for it.

JOURNALIST:

By stirring up trouble within the party, are the Queenslanders making it difficult for local Members like Damian Drum to get their message out? Are they sucking up the oxygen?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

They’re defending their own patches. I understand that – that’s what National Party people do. That's why Damian Drum fought so hard to get $15 million of investment here in Shepparton. That's why he fights hard. He fights hard for his local people. That's what National Party people do and we're proud of the fact we stand up for local people. That's what local constituents what. They want fighters in Parliament; they don't just want shrinking violets who aren't going to say anything and aren't going to stand up for their local people.

That's why our Queenslanders fight hard for what they know and what they expect their people to do, and what they know is right. That's why Damian Drum stands up for jobs and investment in the horticultural industry, the irrigators that he proudly serves and represents. And you know what? He's going to do it for a long, long time to come as well.

JOURNALIST:

Is your job on the line in the party room over this issue?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

No.

JOURNALIST:

Will it be after the election?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

No.

JOURNALIST:

In this electorate back in 2014, Barnaby Joyce famously said that SPC was an issue fairly and squarely for the Liberals. This week again he’s squarely at odds with his Coalition partners – why can’t he learn?learn?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

You know, you're digging up history. And 2014, you know, that's a long, long time ago. That's five years ago. The fact is, Barnaby Joyce is representing the people of New England to the best of his ability. He's making sure that the drought is front and centre of what our Government as well is doing, making sure that we get that valuable assistance and much needed aid out to our drought-stricken farmers. I know it's very dry here. It's dry in the Riverina electorate. It's dry right throughout Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales, and Queensland. It's really, really harsh at the moment and hard for our farmers to make a dollar. Barnaby is making sure that he's out there hearing their concerns. We've delivered around $7 billion of assistance. We need to do more. We will do more. We just need it to rain. Add water – add water and agriculture thrives. These communities thrive on water. I understand that, I represent the Riverina; Damian Drum represents this area; we make sure that our irrigators are listened to and their needs are met.

JOURNALIST:

Did you intend your comments about successful marriages to be about Barnaby Joyce or about your relationship with the Liberals?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

I was asked a question about the relationship, the marriage between the Liberals and the National Party. The fact is it's been a successful marriage since the Liberal Party began way back in 1944. Robert Menzies and Black Jack McEwen, as the Prime Minister pointed out the other day, had a successful relationship. It was a business relationship, but it was a good marriage. Scott Morrison and I have a have a good relationship at the moment and we're going to continue to have that good relationship, because we know that a Liberal-Nationals Government best serves the interests of this nation, best serves the interests of national security, the economic narrative that we need to have for and on behalf of people who want us, who want us to succeed, who want us to maintain Government.

If we don't, the reality is going to be a Bill Shorten Government which is going to put on $200 billion worth of new taxes. It's going to unionise this country such that family owned and operated trucking companies are going to be forced off the road; such that people aren't going to be able to pay their power bills; such that we're going to have unions, the Greens, the Independents running the show and Bill Shorten, well, he'll just wave in the wind like he always does. He’ll decide what position he’s going to take when he steps out of bed in the morning and he’ll probably change it by breakfast.

JOURNALIST:

What's your relationship like with Barnaby Joyce?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

Good; always has been; I've known Barnaby for many, many years and we've worked well alongside together for the interests of rural and regional Australians. That's the National Party focus. It's on those people who decide not to live in the bright city lights of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. We want to make sure that we continue to represent those people who choose to live in the regions. When the regions are strong, so too is our nation. That's my focus.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think you'll ever get your job back?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

I’m not going to - if I knew what the future held I would look at what prospects…

DAMIAN DRUM:

Who’s running in the fourth at Flemington? That’s what you’d do, if you knew what the future held.

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

There is a horse called McCormack at the moment that’s won about four in a row, so I’d suggest anybody can look up the form guide and check out that horse called McCormack. All good.

JOURNALIST:

You’re travelling to central Victoria today as well.

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

I’m going to Cohuna and very much looking forward to it; very much looking forward to a farm visit there, making sure that I get out with Drummy - he's an outstanding representative, and the people of Murray – soon to be Nicholls – would do well to put him back into Parliament with an increased majority. This is the sort of fighter that the Nationals can expect to always represent fiercely the people that he serves, and he’s served them very, very well. Investments such as this would not have happen without Damian Drum banging his fist on my table and saying: I need this to secure the jobs of Shepparton. I need this to underwrite the future of Shepparton. I need this not just for the fruit growers, not just for the orchardists, but indeed for the future of my community. That’s the sort of person I want in the Nationals team fighting hard for the future to build a better future.

JOURNALIST:

Can you tell us about the Federal Government funding commitment to the pipeline that you're making?

DAMIAN DRUM:

Well first, I don’t like to correct my Leader, but when you go into Cohuna, you go into Cohuna, so you got to get that right. [Laughter]. It’s a subtle change, but the locals will hang you and they’ll realise that you’re from out of town if you talk about Cohuna.

So we are going to Cohuna later on when we leave here. And it’s the Mitiamo pipeline, reticulated Mitiamo pipeline project. It's a fantastic opportunity, because the farmers in this region, mainly in the Campaspe and the Loddon area, are reliant on rainfall for their dam fills and a few open channels to fill their dams. It's very inefficient. This project is likely to save about a gigalitre, so 1000 megalitres of water per annum will be saved through this investment. It's going to be a joint Federal and State commitment. And the State Government have only put their proper application in for paperwork last Friday. We're making every indication that this funding arrangement in the Mitiamo region will be funded. However, we have to wait for the official timelines of this funding application to open and close.

JOURNALIST:

So are you able to tell us today how much funding you’re committing to?

DAMIAN DRUM:

We'll make that announcement later on today.

JOURNALIST:

There’s been renewed calls to pause the Murray Darling Basin Plan. Are you planning to meet with water leaders today out there in Cohuna?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

You’ve just pronounced it just like I’ve pronounced it Drummy, anyway all good. I'm always interested in meeting stakeholders, always interested in meeting people who share the same passion that I have for the Murray Darling Basin, just like Damian Drum has, just like David Littleproud, the Agriculture Minister and Water Resources Minister has. The Murray Darling Basin Plan is a bipartisan plan. Yes, it is heavily linked towards the environment. Yes, it is a plan that is still rolling out, still only half way through. It's a plan which is adaptive, which is tweaked according to the climatic seasons that we're experiencing. So when it gets dry, sometimes sadly, our irrigators through state water allocations and the availability of water, they might miss out. And I know that cotton farmers way up north in New South Wales and indeed in Queensland have missed out for the last three years. I appreciate too that rice growers and those in Deniliquin have also missed for longer than they would have liked. The fact is, when it doesn't rain and there's less water, our farmers still get criticised badly by those sorts of people who have never come over the Great Divide, who have probably never visited a region let alone an irrigation farm. Our thoughts are with those irrigation farmers who are doing it pretty tough. We can always make sure that with the Murray Darling Basin Plan, that we look at it and make sure that it's working for and on behalf of the communities that it serves. It's not perfect but it has bipartisan support, it has agreement across the states and territories. And we’ll continue to make sure that we monitor it, continue to make sure that we work with all stakeholders to make sure that they're getting the best outcomes.

DAMIAN DRUM:

The concept around pausing the plan is a very, very important concept. And yes, I've been spending most of my time as the local Member in one of the biggest irrigation regions meeting with what I would call both the farmers, everyday irrigators, and also the so-called water experts. If we pause the plan, we've got to be very careful what we end up with after that. There is so much opposition in the Parliament of Victoria, in some of the Parliaments around Australia, to take more water out of agriculture and return even more water to the environment. Now, whilst people in this region would understand that to be an absolute catastrophe, the Labor Party who are centred in Sydney have no understanding of the damage and the detriment of their policy. They're now indicating that they will go back and return to indiscriminate buybacks; the most damaging, the most dangerous and the laziest of all water policies. So we've got to be careful; this Murray Darling Basin Plan is totally imperfect; everybody is unhappy. Certainly, there is so much water being taken out of agriculture. But the worry we have by pausing the plan is that there's a real risk that a Labor-Greens Government will actually take more water out of agriculture and there's nobody out there arguing for agriculture. Everybody – and certainly in the media – everybody is sitting back, pulling their knees up under their nice little tummies and saying we need more water in the environment, more water for rivers. Now just give me a break here. Everyone has to understand the absolute crucial nature of what we're doing at the moment is we're fighting like hell for our agriculture industries, our dairy irrigators, and our orchardists, and here we have predominantly the argument still being run by environmentalists that they want more water taken out of ag. So, let's just be careful. I understand the farmers are angry, they're upset. Because there is so much water leaving the region, the price of water is becoming prohibitively expensive and we understand all of that. But there is a real risk that a future Labor Government will make the situation dramatically worse.

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

And the trouble is what they're doing is they're listen to Wentworth Group of Scientists, the Australian Conservation Foundation and indeed findings from a state-biased, state-based South Australian Royal Commission. The fact is, our farmers need the water. They need it in order to grow the very best produce in all the world. They don't need to have any more water taken away from agriculture. That's why in 2012 I crossed the floor to make sure that we put a cap on water buyback and that was the right thing to do, because we did stop those stranded assets from happening - I did make sure that we stopped unnecessary buyback. And whether it was in communities such as Griffith, communities such as Deniliquin, communities such as Shepparton, that was the right thing to do. The environment will always bounce back quicker once the rains return than ever will these river communities which rely on agriculture, which rely on irrigated agriculture. Farm production makes these communities strong and if we stop the farmers from getting the water to be able to access the future for themselves, well, God help Australia.

JOURNALIST:

Does it concern you that the value of SPC has been written down to zero, or they have [indistinct]?

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

Of course it does. We want companies like SPC, we want companies right across regional Australia to succeed. And we want to make sure that we have the very best companies and businesses right throughout, right throughout rural and regional Australia in particular. And that's why - I appreciate that this probably doesn't just relate to SPC, but indeed -  that's why we've put downward pressure on company tax such that it's going to 25 per cent, the lowest rate it's been - at the moment - since 1940. You don't get there by chance or coincidence. We’ve got the lowest tax rate for businesses that has been for 79 years. That's what we stand for: Lower taxes, lower energy costs. And what does Labor stand for? Higher taxes, higher energy costs.

JOURNALIST:

The Victorian Government invested millions of dollars in SPC. Was that a bad investment in light of their [indistinct]?

DAMIAN DRUM:

No it wasn't. Their $22 million was a co-investment with Coca-Cola’s or Amatil’s $80 million. So ultimately, that was a great investment. And that was five years ago and it's enabled SPC as an entity to produce a small profit in the last financial year; not so much just one that’s gone. But the write down is simply going to make this entity, the SPC, the entity a little bit easier to sell. That's a good thing. We want to see SPC moved on to another to another potential buyer who is going to pick this operation up and maintain it for what it is - it’s an iconic Shepparton business, generates over 500 full time jobs and thousands of other indirect jobs. So the actual write down, we should be very, very proud that SPC have been able to do that because they're actually facilitating the ongoing business.

Thank you very much.

MICHAEL MCCORMACK:

Thanks for coming in today, really appreciate it. 

[ENDS]

Hannah Maguire