House debates

Monday, 18 March 2024

Private Members' Business

Wine Industry

7:05 pm

Photo of Aaron VioliAaron Violi (Casey, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Firstly, I want to commend the member for Barker, not just for this motion but for his passion and advocacy on this issue. We can't overstate this: this is a crisis. When we listen to those opposite, it feels like that meme of someone sitting in a house when the house is burning and they say, 'Oh, everything's fine.' This is a crisis, and let's be really clear and understand that it's not just because of the tariff that China put on Australia. That's not the core issue at play here. When that tariff went on in 2020, France, Chile, Italy and Spain all saw declines in their sales to China. The Australian market stopped overnight and those four significant countries also lost sales. This is the structural challenge that the member for Barker has been talking about, and it needs a significant response. But we're not seeing a significant response from this government. That's the frustration for those on this side and for those in Barker in the Riverland who need support.

In my community of Casey we have the Yarra Valley, which is a strong wine-making region. In the 12 months to December of 2019 our exports were 1.4 million litres—about $25 million in value. China represented about $16½ million of that. In the 12 months to December of 2023, Yarra Valley exports were at 360,000 litres and $8½ million in value. In our community, we're fortunate; as the member for Barker knows, we're at the higher-end premium market. We've been impacted, but not as much as many others in the community. This is the frustration for growers and farmers. In this time of crisis the minister for agriculture won't go and visit communities and understand the challenges that they face. He won't visit and see firsthand the impact and the devastation for the families and generational businesses in crisis. He won't have the decency to visit them and at least offer some moral support if he isn't going to offer any financial support.

At a time when our industries are struggling and on their knees, there's another decision by this government that defies belief and defies common sense: the Export Market Development Grant program will not be delivered for the wine industry in the financial year 2024-2025. This grant is for individual businesses and representative bodies to drive export market development. This is a time when they need it more than ever; it's crucial for the industry—they're on their knees and this government is pulling a crucial program to deliver exports. I spoke recently with Wine Yarra Valley CEO, Caroline Evans, who, along with Barossa Australia, McLaren Vale Wine and Tourism Association, the Margaret River Wine group and the Adelaide wine region wrote to the Minister for Trade, the Hon. Don Farrell, about reinstating the program. They had an opportunity to meet with his office recently, and they were told, 'Too sad, too bad, bad luck.' There will be no program this financial year, for 2024-2025. If they're lucky, the government might announce a new program in mid to late this year for the next financial year, 2025-26.

I've talked about the challenges with China. The positive is that those tariffs are hopefully coming off. So, at a time when a market is opening to give a little bit of a hope, those development grants—that money—is crucial to re-entering that market. I've worked in exports before. It's not like the tariffs come off and tomorrow you walk back into Shanghai or Beijing and the sales are there. You've got to set up networks. You've got to re-advertise. You have to invest. This government is pulling export investments from an industry right when they need that money to invest. China is declining, as I've already said, but it's still a big market and it's better than nothing.

This is an example of this government not understanding agriculture and not understanding industry or exports. Our industry is in trouble. It needs support. It's not getting support; it's worse than that. This government is making their job even harder. The industry has been abandoned, and it is unacceptable. It's time for the minister to step up. (Time expired)


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