House debates

Monday, 18 March 2024

Private Members' Business

Wine Industry

6:50 pm

Photo of Libby CokerLibby Coker (Corangamite, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

The wine industry, we all acknowledge, is important to Australia and to my region. It's a source of significant exports, with a total value of $1.9 billion in 2023 alone. The industry also delivers local jobs, substantial tourism visitation and diverse business opportunities and contributes to regional prosperity. In my region I have more than 60 quality wine producers. Most are estate grown, and many rely on exports to support their profit margin, so it is pleasing to note China's interim decision to lift tariffs on Australian wine imports.

Our government continues to pursue free trade agreements and other things to promote our wines and increase our exports to the world. We want to support greater demand for Australian wine. We're delivering a free trade agreement with the UK, eliminating all tariffs on Australian wine, and we're also securing a trade agreement with India, significantly lowering tariffs and establishing a joint dialogue.

Domestically, a range of supports remain available for wine growers who are doing it tough. We have the Farm Household Allowance Program, which is available to farmers and their partners in financial hardship. This program has already provided over $800 million in payments to farmers and producers, including fortnightly payments and additional allowances such as rent assistance, case support and farm financial assessment. The program also includes a $10,000 activity supplement to develop skills and increase capacity for financial self-reliance.

Moreover, the Regional Investment Corporation delivers the government's concessional loans to the farming sector, offering low-cost, low-interest loans. Farmers and farm-related small businesses meeting eligibility and lending criteria can apply for loans of up to $2 million for farmers and up to $500,000 for farm-related small businesses.

I'm also pleased that agriculture ministers from all levels of government have agreed to establish a viticulture and wine sector working group. This group is important because it shows that all levels of government recognise the significant challenges facing our wine grape growers, particularly in the inland regions. The working group will include industry experts from Wine Australia, Australian Grape & Wine and industry experts and will provide recommendations to the federal and state agriculture ministers to address the challenges facing our growers. The working group will visit regions most impacted by the oversupply, including the Riverland in South Australia and the Riverina in New South Wales, and will report back to agriculture ministers by the end of April 2024. I would urge the working group to also come to Corangamite and hear from our local wine producers. The government will continue to work closely with industry, state governments and Wine Australia to monitor the situation and ensure growers have the tools, support and information they need to make decisions about their future.

Additionally, the Agricultural Trade and Market Access Cooperation Program assists the Australian wine industry to build long-term, sustainable demand. The program has provided over $3.3 million through three grants to Australian Grape & Wine and over $1.1 million through two grants to the Australian Food and Wine Collaboration Group, which includes Wine Australia.

In closing, I acknowledge there are challenges facing our wine sector, including changes to consumer preferences and global economic pressures. I look forward to the working group's findings, and I look forward to lobbying to ensure that we can do more for our wine growers. They are important, and they create jobs and financial benefits for our regions, just like mine in Corangamite. We are taking action and we are enhancing opportunities for the export of wine. We're supporting local producers with a range of financial support programs, and we're working with other nations to deliver fair trade agreements that enable greater exports and to develop new markets across the globe. We must do this because we have amazing Australian wine and we need to encourage our winemakers to stick with it. We are supporting them in every way possible.


No comments