Crunch Time

Policy formulation is one of life’s challenges that most try to avoid. It’s a dry topic; it’s risky and mostly left for someone else to worry about, write about and explain in simple language. It’s hard because there are rarely less than 10 “reasonable” points of view and seeing it from another’s perspective is almost impossible.

Troublesome policies mostly concern taxes, levies or punishment.

When not directly affected, we often tend to be experts; from the vantage point of the tractor seat, the kitchen, or the lounge. That’s safe. There’s only the dog, the canary or the cat to balance opinion. Income tax, Paid Parental Leave, Carbon Tax, Rent Resource Tax, Superannuation and Climate Change are just a few of the policy areas about which we may have an opinion but we are unlikely to “die in the ditches” over them .

When it’s an issue that’s close to home however, one that impacts our very livelihoods it is imperative that we become informed and help shape policy. Last week’s Hot Potato column piece about the WET Rebate wine tax policy, broached a topic that is complex, contentious and in the minds of some, the most problematic set of rules hampering the recovery of our industry. The Winemakers’ Federation and Wine Grape Growers Australia peak bodies have been toiling to clarify the policy for more than 12 months. The ATO is struggling to reconcile the regulations with the wide and varied range of interpretations all of which are argued as being legitimate, depending on the perspective of the person or enterprise affected.

But it’s crunch time. If the growers and winemakers cannot reach agreement and communicate a clear and unified positon to government, the growing antagonism between stakeholders will continue to distract and detract from the real job of rebuilding a sustainable Australian wine industry. As reported last week, Riverland Wine is listening to growers and winemakers and preparing a clear statement of position to assist all parties to agree what is the most appropriate WET Rebate policy for our industry. If you want to express a point of view, email us.


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