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12/02/2016

SENATE COMMITTEE: Twelve new recommendations for the grape and wine industry

A report from the senate inquiry into the state of the Australian Grape and Wine industry has been released with 12 recommendations proposed.

The Senate Rural and Reg­ional Affairs and Transport References Committee investigated the profitability of wine grape growers, the impact of the Wine Equalisation Tax ­(WET) rebate, the power and influence of retailers of Australian wine in domestic and export markets and the effectiveness of market intelligence in sending price signals to growers.

Along with recommending the Government phase out the current WET rebate over give years, the committee suggested amending labelling requirements so that wine labels state clearly whether the wine has been produced by a major retailer such as Coles or Woolworths.

The committee also recommended Australia Post review its approach to wine delivery with new agreements across the country.

An independent review of the Australian Wine Industry Code of Conduct before 30 June 2016 was also suggested along with the consideration of a mandatory code before the end of 2017.

While the Seante Committee recomendations are non-binding, the Federal Government has six months to respond.

Full list of recommendations:

  1. The committee recommends that the Government phase out the current Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) rebate over five years, allocating the savings to a structural adjustment assistance program for the industry including an annual grant to genuine cellar door operators to support their continued operation.
  2. The committee recommends that the Government amend labelling requirements so that wine labels must declare whether wine is produced by an entity owned or controlled by a major retailer.
  3. The committee recommends that in responding to the Competition Policy Review’s Final Report, the Government specifically consider commercial agreements between growers and producers of wine and the major retailers.
  4. The committee recommends Australia Post review its approach to wine delivery in each Australian state and territory with a view to developing harmonised agreements across Australia.
  5. The committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government, through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), work with states and territories to establish mutual recognition arrangements for responsible service of alcohol qualifications.
  6.  The committee recommends that Government continue to match the grape research levy and wine grapes levy income collected by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority.
  7. The committee recommends that Government give further consideration to the roles of the Australian Grape and Wine Authority and the Australian Bureau of Statistics in wine industry data collection.
  8. The committee recommends that funding be allocated so that the production of the Vineyards Census is resumed on an annual basis.
  9. The committee recommends that Government commit to increasing export demand for Australian wine by considering whether current opportunities for industry participants to increase exports through the Australian Grape and Wine Authority and the Export Market Grants Development Scheme are fully optimised or would benefit from redesign.
  10. The committee recommends that the government significantly increase its funding to wine export market development.
  11. The committee recommends an independent review of the Australian Wine Industry Code of Conduct, to report to Government before 30 June 2016.
  12. The committee recommends that if targets for increase uptake of the Australian Wine Industry Code of Conduct are not met, the Government, in consultation with representative organisations for growers and winemakers, reconsider the development of a mandatory code before the end of 2017.

In addition to these recommendations, three "dissenting reports" with their own recommendations have been included from members and participants of the Seante Committee.

You can access the full report here.

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