Senior Liberal Minister Eric Abetz has confirmed that there was no business case before Tony Abbott promised Cadbury a $16 million taxpayer-funded grant exactly one year ago.
Speaking on ABC radio in Tasmania today, Senator Abetz also revealed the Government could abandon the promised grant.
A year ago today Mr Abbott, desperately campaigning for the federal election, vowed he would create 320 jobs by helping Cadbury expand its facility near Hobart to include tourist facilities.
But documents obtained by Labor under Freedom of Information legislation indicate the Prime Minister knew nothing about the proposal at the time because Cadbury had not produced a business case.
The documents also indicate that there was still no business case to justify this commitment of public money as recently as August 4 – just a few weeks ago.
Speaking on ABC radio today, Senator Abetz said the Government accepted information from Cadbury about its proposal “at face value’’.
“We are now going through with Cadbury to determine if that’s the case,’’ Senator Abetz said. “And if the case doesn’t stack up then we’ll have to re-consider because we will, at the end of the day, protect tax payers dollars.’’
Senator Abetz’s comments confirm that the Cadbury grant was an election promise pulled out of thin air for political reasons.
There was no research into whether it represented value for money.
A year after the promise was made we have seen no jobs, no business case and no evidence that this was anything more than a crude attempt to buy votes.
Since winning the election, the Prime Minister has done nothing to deliver his promise or to find out whether the proposed grant represents value for the public dollar.
At the same time, he has cut grants to tourism bodies across Tasmania for projects that had been the subject of proper business case assessment.