Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Wine Australia Amendment (Trade with United Kingdom) Bill 2019; Second Reading
Thank you. As I was saying, one of the critical risks is to ensure that our winegrowers are able to grow the very grapes that they're growing so that we can have the wine that we can then export overseas. I was making the point that it is very disappointing that the current South Australia Liberal government, led by Steven Marshall, is trying to discredit the royal commission into the Murray-Darling Basin system, which went to the heart of ensuring the viability of farmers within the system and, in particular, that the winegrowers in the South Australians Riverland are able to continue their operations.
Of course, there will be other opportunities where I can talk about the Murray-Darling Basin and the royal commission in South Australia, but it does go to the heart of ensuring that our winegrowers are able to remain viable. In particular, it is also deeply concerning when the South Australian state minister for water, David Speirs, came in for personal criticism by Commissioner Bret Walker in his report. His incompetence and agreement to measures which do nothing to ensure the sustainability of the Murray-Darling Basin water are things that ought to be condemned, and will be condemned, by all South Australians.
It is true that we are dealing with a measure relating to trade, and it is also true that this trade depends on contracts. And those contracts, in most cases, will depend on the ability to supply. Therefore, once again, the ability to supply arises from the ability of our wine farmers to grow the grapes and then our winemakers to produce the wine. These matters are indeed all linked.
Labor will support this amendment, of course, because we want to support our wine industry. As I said earlier on, it's an industry that matters to our country, and to our state of South Australia, where I come from. As with all trade agreements, however, this also highlights some of the concerns that we have often flagged in terms of the limitations that are sometimes placed on countries once we enter into direct agreements with one country or another. The importance, however, is that we are able to maintain a doorway to those markets and that we're able to continue to supply the United Kingdom.
Lastly, I'll say this about the importance of this legislation to the wine industry in Australia: the United Kingdom is a country that we have, over the years, always maintained a close relationship with. I believe that, regardless of whether the United Kingdom remains part of the European Union in one form or another or it doesn't, it will always be a country that we would want to trade with. Not only do we have many people in this country who originated from the United Kingdom—good links with the country—but we also have, I believe, a degree of friendship and closeness with that country that we would not want to see lost. Therefore, if this legislation is going to help us maintain that, I believe it's a step in the right direction. I understand that this needs to be done before 29 March because of the urgency involved. For those reasons, I speak in support of this legislation.