Jun 10, 2014

Tony Abbott and the chocolate factory

ine months after announcing a $16 million grant to Tasmania’s Cadbury factory, government officials have revealed they have no idea if and when the money will be delivered.

During last year’s election campaign Mr Abbott, desperate to drum up support for the Coalition in the island state by promising to create jobs, offered $16 million to fund factory upgrades.

But nine months later Senate Estimates Committee hearings have heard the Government has neither received a business case from Cadbury nor any instructions from the Government about honouring the promise.

BRUCE GOSPER, CEO AUSTRADE: In respect of the proposal for funding for Cadbury factory, that is something that we’re still dealing with. We’re waiting for a business plan from Cadbury so that we can take that forward.

The Cadbury grant has sparked controversy in Tasmania because it came as the government axed Round 2 of the Tourism Industry Regional Fund, disappointing  more than 450 regional tourism businesses which had applied for grants of up to $250,000.

Each application cost up to $5000 and had matching private capital ready to go – investment which would have created jobs but has now been lost.

At the same time, Mr Abbott’s priority – the $16 million Cadbury grant appears to be going nowhere.

His promise of Cadbury’s assistance also came despite his decision to destroy thousands of jobs by withdrawing industry assistance or support from the car manufacturing, aviation and ship-building industries.

In the estimates hearings, Austrade was unable to even confirm any timings.

The uncertainty has not stopped Liberal Senators from Tasmania from continuing to spruik the grant, caught out in a recent Budget newsletter repeating the jobs guarantees.

Funding for the tourism upgrade of the iconic Cadbury factory was also included in the Budget. ‘Work on the factory will create 200 new direct jobs and 120 indirect jobs by 2017, and helping to secure 600 existing direct jobs and 340 indirect jobs’ Senator Abetz said.

TASMANIAN LIBERAL SENATE TEAM BUDGET NEWSLETTER
AUTHORISED BY SENATOR STEPHEN PARRY

Tony Abbott should explain to Tasmanian tourism operators why they and other industries deserve no assistance even though they had been prepared to co-invest to match Government grants, while Cadbury was offered $16 million and has not even managed to produce a business case to justify the assistance.

In his desire to appear tough on government spending, Mr Abbott has dumped industry assistance that supported Australian jobs.

And on the one grant he was willing to keep, he has failed to deliver.