Mar 5, 2015

Abbott’s Cadbury captain’s call collapses

Tony Abbott must outline a genuine jobs plan for Tasmania now that his flawed $16 million proposal to upgrade Cadbury’s chocolate factory in Tasmania has collapsed.

In August 2013 Mr Abbott promised to create 320 new jobs by 2017, as well as build a new visitor centre and increase chocolate production by 30 per cent.

Labor understands that Cadbury will announce later today that it will withdraw its application for Commonwealth funding.

The Prime Minister also promised a cocoa growing trial in the Ord River and a 44% increase Tasmanian milk production including 6000 new dairy cows.

Mr Abbott should now go back to the drawing board and frame a real plan for jobs growth that is more carefully considered than his Cadbury promise, made on the run during an election campaign.

After more than 500 days of dithering and delays by Mr Abbott over Cadbury, nothing has happened.

In that time domestic tourism has plummeted, with overnight trips down 6% in the year ending September 2014 and spending down 7%.

Last year it emerged that Cadbury had provided no business case for the grant prior to the money being allocated by the Abbott Government in the 2014-15 Budget.

Despite this, Mr Abbott and his colleagues repeatedly guaranteed the funding.

 

“We made a commitment to Cadbury, we made a commitment to Tasmania, because this has long been an iconic tourist attraction. So we stand by our commitment. We will deliver on our commitment.”

Tony Abbott, ABC News Online, Thursday 11 September 2014

At the same time, he axed a job-creating, competitive regional tourism grants program for up to 38 Tasmanian tourism operators, funding for which was included in the 2013-14 Labor Government Budget.

Had these grants proceeded as planned, the projects would have already been up and running with money flowing into local Tasmanian communities, leveraging millions of dollars in matching private investment.