It’s a tricky world, the world of taxes and politics. While working out just how to ‘ave a go; what to purchase to be more viable, more sustainable more profitable, yarda, yarda, yarda, be sure to keep an eye on who’s saying what to whom in Canberra, while you’re re-working your business plans! Even before the ink dries on the good news budget, there are shadowy figures, lurking in the corridors and antechambers of the federal parliament planning a counter attack on selected parts of the wine industry. It’s bizarre but be alert. It’s happening. These (lobbyists) are mostly sinister types, often reluctant to be identified lest their treachery and betrayal be revealed. You won’t see their pictures and logos in the Murray Pioneer explaining why they think the Riverland wine industry should be battered and bashed. These are the proponents of the volumetric tax.

While you are reading this they are beavering away, not wasting a moment. Not spending their hard-earned cash to make the world go around. Oh no, not for them, this business of taking a risk, re-working business plans to be profitable, stimulating growth etc. Their work is not about engaging those in the arena; it’s about outsmarting them while they’re distracted by the stimulus measures.

Evidence is not the strong suit of these predators. They retreat from facts. Their strong suits are sophistication and connectedness. They ‘play the game’. They present smooth arguments that often convince the unwary. They are incredibly adept when it comes to influencing the ever trusting MP’s to vary tax policy for their own ends. Right now, they are working to have a volumetric tax on wine introduced as part of the forthcoming taxation reforms. Evidence based policy v’s policy based evidence!

The fact that tax-payers are presently funding further investment in the industry is neither here nor there. If those investments all come to nought in two years’ time, these operators will not be accountable.

There is a real chance the proposed WET Rebate reforms will NOT be implemented. That outcome alone will be adverse for industry. If that rebuttal is re-enforced in a year or two with a volumetric tax on wine, it will require enormous innovation and courage to maintain and grow the value of the wine industry and that means employment and export volumes and values and industry R&D will all decline rapidly.

In the coming weeks Riverland Wine will be issuing a “call to action” from every member of the wine industry and the wider community in the region. It will be imperative for every one of us to make sure our local members are aware of what’s going on.

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