Wednesday, 9 December 2020
Wine Australia Amendment (Label Directory) Bill 2019; Second Reading
I'm very happy to rise to speak on the Wine Australia Amendment (Label Directory) Bill 2019. It's quite timely. It was only last week that I was speaking with John Cassegrain of Cassegrain Wines, a fairly well-known winery, particularly in my electorate but across Australia. They are doing some wonderful things and exporting to many countries around the world. In fact, a couple of years ago, I was on holidays in Japan on the Shinkansen, and, lo and behold, they were serving Cassegrain Wines in the little bottles—chardonnay and pinot noir. It's a second generation family business that has done exceptionally well. John's son Alex has taken over the reins and is going great guns.
But it'd be fair to say the conversation with John was, indeed, a difficult one. They've had 18 months from hell. They really have. They were facing the drought. Then we had the bushfires, and—particularly in Port Macquarie—they suffered substantially because the smoke was there for six months because of a peat pit that burnt and we were unable to extinguish it. It was that deep, and it was that fierce. The council was dousing it with water day after day after day. It made no difference. Some days, they closed the schools because the smoke was so heavy.
All their grapes had to be destroyed—gone—so they couldn't produce wine to export. They were bringing in more grapes from areas that weren't smoke taint affected. So they had the bushfires. Of course they had a large tourism and cellar door, and then we had the coronavirus, and everything shut down, so they couldn't trade there. Now, of course, they have the tariffs from China of up to 217 per cent. John was telling me that he has a number of containers sitting on wharves that were going to China that were cancelled. So it's been the 18 months from hell.
Then you talk about somebody who has worked for decades and decades to produce a product that has respect not only in Australia but around the world. For somebody to come in and ride on those coat-tails—that's not an accurate description—to lie and cheat and copy, and then be able to profit from decades of work is just unscrupulous. That is why it is so important that the Australian government protects our winemakers and our industry through this bill.
The bill will do two things: it will protect our producers, and it will protect their identity, their intellectual property, and ensure that they know that they're not going to get ripped off or have their reputation damaged by somebody who's trying to make a quick buck. The member for Sturt in his contribution said that reputation can be damaged because you believe that it's a real product—you believe that it's a true product—and you have a bad experience. Therefore (a) you won't buy it again, but (b) you'll tell somebody. We all know that if you have a good experience you will tell one person, but if you have a bad experience you will tell 10. So it's the reputation that is damaged.
Part 2 of the bill protects the consumer so you know what you're getting. You pay for what you get, but you'll know what you're getting. Again, the member for Sturt referred to Penfolds. Penfolds Grange goes for $800, $900 and above. When people are paying that kind of money for wine they want to know that they are getting what they paid for. So I'm pleased that this bill does that and I'm pleased that we're able to step up, as a government, and protect our industries.
In addition to doing that, the bill will enable Wine Australia to establish a label directory which is publicly available on a database. It will also help control the export of grape products, see the establishment of the label directory and its maintenance, include digital colour images of grape product labels and other information and give Wine Australia more assistance to control the export of grape products.
I'm pleased with this bill. I'm pleased that it helps our producers. Hopefully, in the future, for people like John Cassegrain things will turn around and we will resurrect relationships with other countries so that, in the future, they can see their profit margins increase and we can all enjoy a good wine knowing that it is an original wine.