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Canberra insider to chair national wine grape growers body

Alan Newton, rural industry and strategic management specialist, and ex head of the Crops and Rural Industry Divisions of the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture Fisheries & Forestry (DAFF), has been appointed as Independent Chairman of Wine Grape Growers Australia – the new national body representing the wine grape sector.

Announcing the appointment, Interim WGGA Chairman, Michael De Palma, said the attraction of such an experienced Independent Chairman would immediately increase the profile of the wine grape sector at the national level and ensure WGGA builds a strong presence in Canberra.

“We have a very difficult current economic environment for Australia’s wine grape growers – who are now experiencing a drastic crash in incomes after a long period of industry growth. We need to work with Government on policies and programs that will turn the economic circumstances of the sector around and lead to long term viability for grape growers. This reinforces how important the appointment of Alan Newton is to building WGGA as a strong national representative body for growers, by developing a strategic approach to industry policy, and establishing close links with the Government and its Departments. Alan’s extensive experience with rural industries and Government at all levels, and particularly his knowledge of the wine industry, will be vital to achieving positive outcomes for growers in the coming years.”

Mr Newton brings significant wine industry experience to the Executive Committee of WGGA, having been a Director of the Australian Wine & Brandy Corporation and leader of the Australian Government’s negotiations with the European Union on the EU/Australia Wine Agreement. Since leaving DAFF in 1998 he has led a successful strategic management consultancy based in Canberra, and has recently completed a term as Executive Manager of the Council of the Chairs of the Australian Government’s Rural Research & Development Corporations.

Mr Newton is expected to chair his first WGGA Executive Committee meeting in early July.

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