INDEPENDENT NEWS

Government Should Not Allow ENZA Levy On Growers

Published: Wed 20 Jun 2001 11:11 AM
The Government is making a major error of judgement by considering allowing ENZA to levy all growers to recoup financial losses from previous years, ACT Rural Affairs Spokesman Owen Jennings said today.
"Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton has adopted the weasel words "legacy costs", promoted by ENZA. ENZA debts belong squarely with ENZA shareholders. No amount of dressing-up or political opportunism can disguise the poor decision-making ability of ENZA’s past and present directors," Owen Jennings said.
“Growers who have not been supplying ENZA should not be made liable by a compulsory levy for this debt. The debt is absolutely nothing to do with them. "The fact the Government is considering this proposal shows it is more concerned about popularity than principle.
"Last week’s letter from ENZA to growers was practically a direct appeal to the Government to bail them out.
"New entrants taking up shares in ENZA faced the same risks as prospective shareholders in any other company.
"The harsh reality is that if these shareholders were unaware of the full extent of the debt that it is their problem. Would the current shareholders of ENZA be seeking a device to distribute profits to suppliers if they had discovered that the assets were worth more than they thought at the time they bought their shares?
"The history of ENZA’s debt is a sad one. Shareholders and growers have been dealt a cruel and unnecessary blow through poor quality decision making. "There is no case for growers to pick up what is a shareholder responsibility. The Minister should have had the nous and fortitude to refuse the company’s overtures for a compulsory levy. If ENZA were really so commercially naïve to dump their debt on suppliers in one year, they deserve all the opprobrium they get,” Owen Jennings said.
Ends

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