Raising false hope?

The dramatic headline on Thursday’s Advertiser, Wine Bailout was very misleading. The truth of it, is that the entire industry is being challenged and to imply it’s a Riverland issue is far from the reality.

Riverland Wine has a long and a successful record of working with Senator Xenophon to bring about major reforms that have improved conditions for winegrowers over many years. Senator Xenophon lobbied hard on the behalf of Riverland Wine and provided excellent access to some of his Federal parliamentary colleagues to bring about the Exit Packages. He single handedly worked with this organisation to bring about the amendments to the Exit Package that made it more accessible to more irrigators. He worked tirelessly with us to gain recognition for this region’s irrigators in the lead up to the Murray-Darling Basin reforms. He has made countless journeys to meet with Riverland producers and has given of his time very willingly on numerous issues.

For some reason he chose not to discuss his proposal for a temporary 25¢ per bottle levy on every bottle of wine to be paid to all winegrowers across the nation. If only it were that simple! There may well be some merit in Nick’s proposal. As evidenced through our experience in bringing about the reforms and policy changes referenced above, such changes are not readily countenanced by the legislators. There is a real risk in creating expectations that such changes can be made quickly and easily.

The plight of the wine industry has been well documented over the past decade. The hardships that have been endured by all stakeholders were the result of poor policy settings inviting outside investors to the industry. The trail of destruction is clear for all to see. Changing policy requires hard work, perseverance, strong arguments and the determination to understand ‘why it is so’.

The forthcoming Senate Inquiry will present the opportunity for all stakeholders to put forward arguments and proposals for reform. Riverland Wine has commenced its submission and will continue to prepare the case for policy review and reform.

Riverland Wine respects and empathises with all producers across the region. Unquestionably a 25¢ per bottle levy, imposed on a temporary basis for all Australian wine growers would produce massive benefit for all regions. This region would earn an additional (minimum) $100M from such an impost in one year! It will be interesting to see whether this headline materialises!
Unfortunately the negativity generated by this sort of journalism travels to every corner of the globe reflecting very poorly on our region and ignoring the great policy reform achievements of recent years.

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