WA Wine Industry WET Rebate Position Paper

In the 2016 Federal Budget, the Government announced changes to the WET Producer Rebate (WET Rebate). Wines of WA (WoWA) supports the policy objectives behind the changes, namely addressing integrity concerns, better targeting support, and tightening eligibility for the WET Rebate. However, following extensive consultation with local industry, WoWA is very concerned about the direct and indirect consequences of the announced changes for regional growth and development, and regional communities. These consequences, which we believe are unintended, will have significant negative social and economic impacts in Australia’s regional communities in which wine producers are based.

Industry consultation included:

• A survey of producers conducted by RSM Australia.
• Industry “town-hall meetings” facilitated by Wines of WA and WA Members of the Federal Government. These meetings formed part of an informal consultation process by the Federal Government. Senator Anne Ruston visited most wine producing states in June 2016. The process included 4 meetings in the following regions and towns: Mt Barker, Pemberton, Busselton and Swan Valley.
• Extensive written and verbal communications with Regional Wine Associations. The positions documented in this paper have been ratified by all fine wine regions in WA.

Please see link here the resulting position paper outlining the results of this consultation process.

The paper has the endorsement of all WA Regional Wine Associations.

It outlines:
• the negative impacts on WA producers that will result from the proposed changes and;
• alternative amendments that will achieve the same revenue outcomes for government while re-focusing the rebate back to its original purpose of supporting small and medium wine producers in regional and rural Australia

The paper will be distributed to all state and regional associations in Australia and to all relevant government, opposition and cross-bench members and will inform all discussions supporting the position of WA growers and producers.

For further information, contact Redmond Sweeny - 0419 487 427

Scoping the Impact - Removal of the State Cellar Door Rebate

After significant engagement with industry, Wines of WA has determined that this is a critical issue directly affecting over 80% of the state’s wine production.  Indirectly, all WA producers are affected by the impact the removal of the rebate will have on resourcing of regional wine tourism.  Other businesses (tour providers, accommodation providers, and those who service businesses within wine regions) reliant on regional wine tourism will also be affected.

That Minister for Racing Gaming and Liquor, Colin Holt, would publicly state (Augusta Margaret River Times 20/05/2015) “given the subsidy applies to a small percentage of wineries … the impact on wine drinkers is likely to be minimal”, shows a clear lack of understanding of the intended purpose of the rebate.  This also demonstrates that there was no engagement with the WA wine industry before the decision was made.
In the budget papers, the justification for the abolishment of the scheme is stated thus: “given the limited scope of the scheme, the Cellar Door subsidy is to be abolished from 1 July 2015. A number of other States have also abolished their subsidies.” 

Both points are inaccurate and misinformed.  Wines of WA research suggests the subsidy is accessed by businesses that represent 86% of production (which means 86% of employment and value adding in region).  Only NSW has abolished the scheme.  SA and Victoria maintain theirs, albeit at different levels.  In fact, the Victorian state government considered abolishing the scheme in 2013 but after industry consultation demonstrated the value of regional wine tourism determined not to do so.

The reality is, the scope of the decision adversely affects every producer in WA either directly or indirectly.  The businesses directly affected operate significant wine tourism facilities that attract visitation to regions.  They have a positive effect on the regions in which they operate.  All other businesses within the region benefit from their efforts.  If investment in operating and promoting these major drawcards is reduced, all within the region will be negatively impacted across the value and employment chain.

An estimate of the investment by WA wine producers into regional tourism facilities over the past five years is around $20 million dollars.  All of this investment was implemented during a period of low profitability for the industry.  It is critical to the industry’s future success to remain internationally competitive in the wine tourism space.

Given there was no prior consultation with industry, Wines of WA will request a 12 month moratorium on the abolishment of the scheme.  In this time, an industry and government led review should determine how to improve the implementation of the scheme.

For further information, contact Wines of Western Australia

CEO – Larry Jorgensen
T – 9284 3355 E – ceo@winewa.asn.au

Policy on the Run - WA Wine Industry Response to the 2015-16 State Budget

The WA wine industry was disappointed to be informed of the abolishment of the long standing state based Cellar Door Rebate through the release of the 2015-16 state budget yesterday. 

With no prior consultation, the industry was not able to provide the state government with information on the value of the rebate to wine regions in the state’s south west.  The rebate provided regionally based WA producers with an incentive to resource cellar door and wine tourism offerings.  These businesses are significant tourism attractions, driving visitation to south west wine regions.  They are also significant employers within these regions and create an environment where synergistic businesses thrive, providing a further employment multiplying effect.

It is difficult to understand why a scheme that was an incentive to food and wine tourism businesses would be abolished when the state government is also purporting to support the transition from a “mining boom to a dining boom”.

Wines of WA President, Redmond Sweeny suggested that a better approach would have been to “consult with our industry to gain a deeper understanding of how the subsidy is re-invested back into the region through the operation of significant wine tourism businesses.  Businesses re-invest to create unique regional experiences that attract visitation by domestic and international travellers who are seeking a premium experience.”

WoWA is buoyed by the positive approach to resourcing tourism market development in the budget via an additional $24m for new destination marketing. WoWA also welcomes the increase in funding to attract more visitors to the state with the Tourism WA marketing budget increase to $31.2 million.
WoWA also backs the $27 million investment over three years to support the State Government’s events program and to target interstate and international conferences, and $11 million of Royalties for Regions funding to extend the Regional Tourism Marketing Program. This will have a positive effect on wine tourism businesses