A good number of the region’s wine producers took part in consultations will PIRSA on Wednesday, July 8 to consider the State Government’s proposition to abolish the Cellar Door Liquor Subsidy Scheme and create a $1.8M a year Wine Industry Fund. Debate was lively. Clearly those producers who have been able to access the subsidy are very reluctant for it to be abolished. Others could see regional opportunities especially in the potential for collaborative projects around wine, food and tourism. EO Chris Byrne said, “The region is producing a growing number of fine wines but market access is a real problem for Riverlanders and also for visitors to the region. If this new Wine Industry Fund could be utilised to support real growth in sales of Riverland wine products and at the same time promote this region’s premium foods and unique tourist options it would seem to be a positive outcome for the region.”
The region’s producers supported SAWIA CEO, Brian Smedley, who also attended the discussions, in calling on the government not to reduce the current spend from approx. $2.7M to the proposed $1.8M. All agreed the South Australian wine industry is one of the State’s sturdiest economic drivers, not just through fine wine production but also in terms of tourism and export earnings. Now is not the time for government to reduce its support for the wine industry. Rather, we need to protect what we have and find new ways of growing returns on these tax-payer investments.
Riverland Wine is confident the proposition has merit for a much broader spread of benefits, if the terms of the partnership can be equitable and innovative. It’s a great opportunity to promote this region’s unique wines, magnificent river-scapes and position the Riverland for the ‘new era’. Riverland Wine will work with the local producers to prepare a submission before the closing date, July 24.
All members are mindful that one option, available to the government is to withdraw financial support all together. It’s important therefore that the Riverland submission is realistic, making it difficult for government not to be persuaded. All submissions and outcomes from the workshops will be collated and analysed by PIRSA and will inform the subsequent recommendations to Cabinet, where the final decision on the proposition will be made later in the year.