Wednesday, 9 December 2020
Wine Australia Amendment (Label Directory) Bill 2019; Second Reading
I present the explanatory memorandum to this bill and move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
Australia is well regarded for our top-quality agricultural produce, fine food and wine, which makes our exports highly valued by consumers overseas. For wine, the good name of our wine brands is particularly important for showcasing the range of wines we have on offer and building trust with consumers. Australia is the sixth-largest wine producer in the world and the fifth-largest wine exporter. We currently export two-thirds of Australian wine produced, adding $2.89 billion to the economy per year. This growth brings enormous benefits to Australian winemaking and growing regions but it also brings with it the risk that some may seek to unfairly profit off the reputation of others and undermine the integrity of the sector as a whole. Our robust wine export controls ensure consumers can be confident not only that they will be getting a safe and quality product but that what the bottle says they are going to get is what they are getting.
With the Wine Australia Amendment (Label Directory) Bill 2019 we are adding one more tool to Wine Australia's export controls toolkit. The bill allows Wine Australia to establish the wine export label directory, a public facing, online database of all Australian wine labels for export. The Australian wine industry asked for a label directory to strengthen the wine export regulatory system, administered by Wine Australia, to prevent the export of copycat labelled wines, and we are delivering it. While Wine Australia's role does not extend to the protection of intellectual property rights, this bill will better facilitate wine brand owners to protect their own interests.
With our steady growing, high-volume and high-value wine exports it is no longer a simple case of walking into a liquor store, or visiting a key distributor or retailer overseas, to ensure copycat labels haven't entered the market. The directory is a simple modern equivalent. The label directory will allow brand owners to search the database to easily see whether other labels may be seeking to trade off their intellectual property so they can undertake appropriate civil action against copycat exporters through the Australian legal system. While it is up to them to sort out whether copyright infringement has occurred, we are sending a clear message that trying to take advantage of the reputation of Australian brands is not on.
The bill will also enable Wine Australia to take into account the behaviour of wine exporters using the label directory in administering licences to export grape products. When exporters are trying to take advantage of the good name of Australian brands or using untruthful or non-compliant labels, Wine Australia can suspend or cancel their licence to export. The continuing success of Australian wine exports depends on the maintenance of our internationally recognised reputation for quality and integrity that is supported by Wine Australia's regulatory activities. The establishment of the label directory by this bill will better equip Wine Australia to respond to the risks that come with the growth in reputation and value overseas and enable the Australian wine industry to more easily protect itself.