The Financial Review is widely read by business leaders and politicians. It is a powerful force in policy development. Some might say it’s the national equivalent of the Murray Pioneer. It shapes people’s thinking and policy development; policies that have a profound effect on the economic and social wellbeing of regional Australia and in this instance, a profound effect on the livelihoods and investments of growers and winemakers in the Riverland. Monday’s publication of the Financial Review revealed publicly, what many have thought to be the case for several years; that two international companies, Treasury Wine Estates and Pernod Ricard have sided with the beer brewers and the health interest groups to actively lobby the federal government for a volumetric tax on wine! Indeed, these international wine and spirits companies have engaged Newgate Communications (another powerful international organisation) to exert power and influence on their behalf in Canberra!
We know these companies as TWE and Orlando. They’ve been corporate citizens in our community for decades. Many of our members have been commited, loyal suppliers and supporters. The term “kick in the guts” is often used these days to express feelings of shock and despair. It’s been uttered more than once this week along with many other unpublishable comments.
The “call to action” mentioned last week is now acute. Over coming weeks, Riverland Wine will be issuing information about the most likely impacts of volumetric tax on our broader community as well as our direct members. The call to become part of the campaign will be issued to every person, who in any way depends on grapes and wine for their livelihoods. It may be that collectively we don’t posssess enough sharp suits, clever words and big bucks to appeal to the policy makers but we certainly have the numbers to illustrate what we contribute to the the region, to jobs and to exports. We do have the Murray Pioneer Group of Newspapers and our local ABC to raise widespread awareness of what’s in the wind. We must work collectively to drive home the message to all our political representatives including all South Australian Senators.
This campaign won’t be easy. This threat of volumetric tax has been lurking for many years and much damage has been done already. Log on and read the full Financial Review article and stand by for suggestions as to how you can make a difference.