• Rikki Lambert

Victorian Nationals repulsed as federal government helps SA snare protein manufacturing

Updated: Mar 4

APP founders Brendan McKeegan (left) and Phil McFarlane at the company's Horsham processing plant

The Liberal-National junior coalition partner is seething after a Horsham-based business was assisted in sending jobs into South Australia before a March state election, 8 months before Victoria's own poll where the Nationals were committing to reinvigorate regional manufacturing.

South Australian Liberal senator and finance minister Simon Birmingham was at the forefront of a Tuesday announcement 18 days before SA voters went to the polls, declaring that $113 million in federal funding would assist Australian Plant Proteins partnering to set up 3 manufacturing plants in the state.

On Friday, APP co-founder Brendan McKeegan confirmed with FlowNews24 that all three plants would be built in SA, with APP aiming north of Adelaide within reach of a 'viable workforce', infrastructure needs and where pulses were grown in the state.

McKeegan confirmed the majority of pulses in Australia are grown in Victoria and South Australia.

Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh slammed the Andrews Labor Government for ignoring warnings in May 2020 that Labor’s lack of support was risking Victoria losing the investment altogether:

“The Victorian Labor Government was given every opportunity to support the expansion of Australian Plant Protein’s Horsham-based operations, but deliberately ignored the call.
“The company was crying out for Government support when I visited the Horsham facility back in May 2020. They were looking at their options, with a clear preference to remain in Victoria.

Murray Bridge based Thomas Foods International and the Australian Milling Group will partner with APP to spend over $378 million building three plant protein manufacturing facilities supplying domestic and international markets.

The South Australian Government will also contribute $65 million to the project aiming to capitalise on the growing market for plant-based protein.

SA's most senior federal politician, Finance Minister Birmingham said on Tuesday:

“It is a major step forward in transforming South Australia into a plant-based protein manufacturing and export powerhouse.
“It will not only generate thousands of local jobs but has the potential to generate billions in export dollars for our state."

The project is expected to create up to 1345 construction jobs and 384 new direct manufacturing jobs by 2024 and eventually support more than 8,500 new full-time positions in the supply chain and economy by 2034.

It is also expected to generate up to $4 billion in exports by 2032, including to the US, south-east Asia and Europe.