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Licence fee hikes hit home

Ramifications of Victoria’s liquor licence fee hike are starting to be seen following a reduction in Geelong winery participants at a premier wine event, according to the Geelong Winegrowers Association (GWA). Participant numbers are reportedly low at the Federation Square Victorian Wine Showcase, which is an annual State Government event designed to highlight the calibre and diversity Victoria’s wines. It is staged over several months with each Victorian wine region offering public tastings and judging over two nights each month. But the GWA has blamed the Government for a reduction in participants, saying it was a direct ramification of exorbitant liquor licence fee hikes introduced in January this year. “Last year 23 Geelong region wineries participated in the Federation Square Victorian Wine Showcase,” said GWA president Lyndsay Sharp. “This year only 13 have chosen to be involved…(Vic premier) Mr Brumby has shot himself, community events and Victorian tourism, in the foot.” The fee hikes were introduced by the Victorian Government to cover administration, regulatory and policing costs, largely as a result of late night Melbourne Central Business District violence. "In case Brumby hasn’t noticed, there is more to Victoria than Melbourne’s CBD and for the vast majority of hospitality operations and community events, alcohol-induced violence is non-existent,” Sharp said. “In addition, it has been clearly established that the Brumby government imposed these new laws without seeking any specific wine industry consultation at all, which at best is arrogant and sloppy and at worst is totally unconstitutional.” The 2009 Federation Square Victorian Wine Showcase saw a number of Geelong wines take out the coveted top range of awards including the overall best Shiraz and best red wine as well as the People’s Choice Award for best white and best red. “Apart from the illogical inequity in the fee increases, what is perhaps most disheartening is that the true depth and bounty of brilliant viticultural offerings from the Geelong region will not be on show and in the running for awards,” Sharp said. “The GWA will not stop in its quest for reasonable, knowledge-driven reform,” she said.

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