Doorstop interview at Wagga Wagga NSW

Michael McCormack: It’s fantastic to be here at Riverina Oils. What an amazing plant this is. This factory, this plant for the past six years has taken a lot of the canola from around the Riverina and southern NSW such that it has actually changed farmers’ patterns of what they grow, because they know that if they grow canola there’s a ready-made market here. They process the seed into wonderful food products which are then exported all around the world. Some of the food products are used domestically but this factory is sending Wagga Wagga, Riverina canola oil all across the world.

Hendrik Sasmito, the major shareholder for Riverina Oils, is here today and it is fantastic to welcome him here to Wagga Wagga so that he can see first-hand just what an amazing plant this is. They employ 80 people. Scott Whiteman, the CEO of Riverina Oils, knows the value of employing local people, knows the value of Riverina Oils and what it means for Wagga Wagga’s domestic and export opportunities.

Not only that, I’m really delighted that I’ve been able to explain to the major shareholder, Hendrik Sasmito, the benefits and advantages of Inland Rail. Inland Rail is coming through Wagga Wagga, through the Riverina intermodal and freight logistics hub, and this is also going to be providing great opportunities for Riverina Oils to export their product to the world. We know that the 1,700 kilometre corridor of commerce that the Brisbane to Melbourne Inland Rail is going to provide will also reduce freight costs by up to $10 per tonne. So that’s going to be good for businesses such as this, good for export opportunities, making sure that Riverina Oils can take advantage of those Free Trade Agreements that Australia has been able to sign up to, that the Liberals and Nationals have been so forthright in making sure that they happen.

I’m delighted that this is a great success story. Even despite the drought last year, 188,000 tonnes of canola has been sent here for processing. That’s an amazing result. So we know that farmers can take advantage of Riverina Oils. We know that they’re getting benefit from it. We know that they’re making money from it. It’s creating local jobs. It’s creating export opportunities, and I’m delighted the Inland Rail is also going to be such an advantage, when it’s built, for companies such as this. At the moment, out at North Wagga Wagga, out at Wagga Wagga’s industrial hub, this is a great opportunity. It’s a great success story and it’s really delightful that the major shareholder, Hendrik Sasmito, is here today to see just what a fantastic factory this is.

Journalist: Scott, just what’s been happening today?

Scott Whiteman: Today I’m delighted to welcome Hendrik Sasmito and his family to the plant here in Wagga. It’s a review of our business. We have many different irons in the fire to pursue extension of business in a multi-faceted approach. So it’s been fantastic to discuss that. It will be happening over the next few days. Also, I’m delighted to welcome Michael McCormack with us today because a lot of what we’re doing requires the support of Government rather than any hindrance. Certainly we’ve called on Michael a couple of times before and he has been a fantastic deliverer on those items.

We’re particularly excited about the rail hub and the possibilities around that. It’s time to discuss it now, even though it will be a few years before it’s delivered; also export opportunities, because that will open up further export opportunities. We’re already exporting a significant amount of oil to the US and into Asia, but the rail hub will really make us a super-efficient producer and distributor of oil globally. Also from a power perspective, power in manufacturing in Australia is a significant issue so we’ve been discussing various options with Michael on that front, and we’ve already made some progress towards making some savings. We’re looking forward to additional, potentially renewable grants in the future.

Journalist: What is the goal from here given the freight hub and trade, and also the hugely successful campaign we saw in India two years ago?

Scott Whiteman:

The ultimate goal is to double the capacity. We think that we are going to be the most efficient producer if we aren’t already, and adding the economies of scale and being the hub for global business – it’s here, at our plant.

Journalist: If you’re going to double, how much are you using at the moment?

Scott Whiteman: We’re crushing 190,000 tonnes of canola a year at the moment, so in a year when NSW is going to produce less than that it’s certainly a testing time but we’re pretty confident we will continue to operate at capacity.

Journalist: If you want to double it, what is a realistic timeline to see that?

Scott Whiteman: We’re working on some of these projects to make the plant more profitable. The niche areas that we’re looking at – if we have a super-efficient rail hub that is starting to be built, all of that type of thing helps.

Journalist: The hub itself is probably going to help you expand your business?

Scott Whiteman: Without a doubt. It really makes us a super-efficient producer here in the growing region with access to the East Coast as efficient as any producer, and therefore globally.

Journalist: You mentioned the hub but we’ve seen the groundwork for the hub which is (inaudible) enabling roads project; that has been up and running for two years; how much of a difference has that made to your business just having an efficient road system?

Scott Whiteman: It’s given us hope and faith that the hub will occur, so the actual roads themselves are really seen from that perspective.

Journalist: Michael, we’ve had the Productivity Commission report into superannuation – what are your thoughts on the recommendations that it has made today?

Michael McCormack: There are 31 recommendations made by the Productivity Commission into superannuation. The Government will consider those recommendations carefully. Of course we have the Royal Commission into banking at the moment. We’ll take on board those considerations and recommendations and the Government will respond in good time.

Journalist: In terms of reform, what’s needed for people in the regional and rural areas of the country, as far as superannuation is concerned?

Michael McCormack: They need the safety and security to know that their superannuation is working for them. We want people to be absolutely certain that the money that has been tucked away for them, and they’ve contributed to as well, is going to be there for them in retirement and is going to maximise their potential to live out their lives as best, in the most financially capable way, they can. That’s why it’s really important. Superannuation has served us very, very well for a number of years, but that’s why we commissioned this report; that’s why we got the Productivity Commission to look into superannuation. They’ve made 31 recommendations and we’ll consider those and make the appropriate response in due course.