Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) Rebate - Release of Exposure Draft Legislation

The Government has announced the release of exposure draft legislation and explanatory material for the changes to the WET rebate for public consultation until Friday, 28 April 2017 (see joint media release).

 

The exposure draft legislation can be accessed on the Treasury consultation webpage.

 

WA State Election Update

Over the course of the state election, Wines of WA has communicated a non-partisan policy position for all parties to consider. Please see attached policy document which outlines our approach.

The main aim of our engagement has been to secure a commitment to formal consultation with the WA wine industry on two key issues; wine tourism and market development. We also intend to confirm with the State Government, the importance of the WA wine industry in regional economic development.

To date, we have received a commitment from:

• Opposition Leader Mark McGowan confirming that, if elected, Labor will engage with the WA wine industry in formal consultation on wine tourism, market development and the importance of the WA wine industry in regional economic development. Mr McGowan stated, “If elected, a McGowan Labor Government is committed to formally consult with the West Australian wine industry on how to drive wine tourism and export marker development. WA's wine industry is an important part of diversifying our economy and creating jobs for the future.”

• Blackwood Warren MLA Terry Redman and Nationals WA candidate for Vasse Peter Gordon confirming that Nationals WA will engage with the WA wine industry in formal consultation on wine tourism, market development and the importance of the WA wine industry in regional economic development. Mr Gordon and Mr Redman stated, “If elected at the upcoming State Election, Nationals WA would undertake to set up a formal consultation process with the WA grape and wine community, along with tourism stakeholders, to look at options to boost cellar door tourism and support export market development."

• Premier Colin Barnett and Vasse MLA Libby Mettam confirming that, if elected, Liberals WA will engage with the WA wine industry in formal consultation on wine tourism, market development and the importance of the WA wine industry in regional economic development. Ms Mettam stated, ”a Liberal-led government will commit to a formal consultation process with the WA grape and wine industry to boost cellar door tourism, export market development and regional development."

WA Wine Industry State Election Policy Statement LINK

Larry Jorgensen
Chief Executive Officer
Wines of WA
T – 0448 884 161
E – ceo@winewa.asn.au

WA State Government Survey for Regional Residents

The Department of Regional Development, in partnership with Ernst & Young is conducting the Living in the Regions survey again this year to find out more about regional communities in Western Australia.

·       Living in the Regions is Australia’s largest survey of regional residents. The results provide a rich picture of the experiences, perspectives and attitudes of regional residents, and will form a valuable input to policy development for regional communities.

·       Minister for Regional Development Terry Redman yesterday announced the Living in the Regions 2016 survey and has strongly encouraged regional residents to participate and contribute towards shaping the future development of regional WA.

·       Closing date for the survey is Wednesday 30 November 2016.

·       Visit the DRD website for more information and to complete the survey.

WET Rebate Reform - WoWA response to WET Rebate: Tightened Eligibility Implementation Paper

The WET Rebate Implementation Paper released by the Federal Government on 2 September confirms the Government’s failure to recognise the importance of the wine industry to rural and regional communities and the significant damage that will be caused to small wine producers and their communities by the proposed changes to the WET Rebate.

In the 2016 Budget, the Government announced two major changes to the WET Rebate system that will hurt small wine producers and their communities. It plans to:

  • Reduce the WET Rebate cap from $500,000 to $290,000 over two years; and
  • Change the eligibility criteria so that only producers that own an interest on a winery can claim the rebate.

Both changes fail to recognise the valid reasons why the WET Rebate was introduced in 1999, and demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding of how the wine industry operates and the importance of maintaining the support to small wine producers and their communities that the rebate provides. The first element is a clear revenue grab, while the second will disqualify over half the small producers in Western Australia from claiming the rebate at all.

The Western Australian wine industry supports reforming and refocusing the WET Rebate system to eliminate the market distortion that is currently occurring through the application of the rebate to bulk and unbranded wines, and by tightening eligibility for the rebate. Wine Equalisation Tax (WET), as a value based tax, places smaller fine wine producers at an enormous disadvantage relative to larger lower cost producers as it results in substantially higher tax being paid on high value fine wines relative to lower value wines. The WET Rebate was introduced to support smaller wine producers in regional and rural Australia with domestic sales, and to effectively exempt those wine producers from WET.

Wines of Western Australia (WoWA) has consulted extensively with wine producers in Western Australia and has released its position paper which outlines four simple proposals to restore the intent and integrity of the WET Rebate system. The Western Australian wine industry is made up of the type of businesses that the WET Rebate was intended to support – smaller regionally based producers who are the owners of the brands under which their production is sold. These businesses form an integral part of the regional economies in which they are based, generating significant employment and economic activity and supporting the local tourism industries.

WOWA’s proposals to refocus and restore integrity to the WET Rebate system are:

  • Eliminate the rebate for bulk and unbranded wine by limiting the rebate to packaged, branded wine which is for sale to domestic customers – this element is supported by both the Government and the wine industry;
  • Expand the existing eligibility criteria to provide that a producer must operate from a place of business in a wine region and maintain ownership and control of the grapes from which wine is made from the crusher to the finished bottled and branded product – the Government’s proposal that a producer must own an interest in a winery does not recognise the many legitimate business models used by smaller wine producers;
  • Maintain the overall rebate of $500,000 but refocus it so that the full amount is only available on cellar door or direct sales, and introduce a limit within the cap on the rebate available for wholesale sales at $350,000, transitioned in over four years – the Government’s proposed reduction in the cap for legitimate producers will damage their viability and their ability to invest in their businesses; and
  • Restrict access to the rebate to small and medium sized wine producers - the rebate was never intended to support large scale producers.

WoWA is consulting with representatives of fine wine regions in other states and has already received support for its proposals from a number of regional associations.

WoWA calls on the Government to include the WET Rebate cap in the consultation process and to focus its reform of the WET Rebate system on restoring the original intent of the rebate rather than adding complexity to the WET Rebate system or reducing the amount of rebate available to genuine small and medium wine producers. WoWA urges the Government to focus on integrity measures that do not prejudice the sustainability of regional wine communities, and to initiate as soon as possible meaningful discussion on reforming the basis of taxation of wine to a simpler and fairer system based on the volume of wine rather than the value of wine.

Contact:
Larry Jorgensen
CEO - Wines of Western Australia
ceo@winewa.asn.au
0448 884 161

Redmond Sweeny
President - Wines of Western Australia
hezza@snakeandherring.com.au
0419 487 427

About Wines of WA
Wines of Western Australia provides support to wine producers and Regional Wine Associations in the development of their region.
The mandate of Wines of Western Australia is to ensure government and its relevant agencies understand the position of WA’s nine - premium wine growing regions on key issues affecting their interests and to leverage the collective voices to achieve enhanced success for the stakeholders.

Wines of Western Australia Wine Equalisation Tax Position Paper August 2016

Wine Industry Remains Angry About WET Changes

THE HON JOEL FITZGIBBON MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY
SHADOW MINISTER FOR RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA
SPOKESPERSON FOR COUNTRY CAUCUS
MEMBER FOR HUNTER

Consultations with Australia’s wine industry confirm on-going anger at the Government’s failure to consult over its proposed changes to the Wine Equalisation Tax Rebate.

In the 2016 Budget, the Turnbull Government announced two major changes to WET rebate arrangements. It plans to:

1. Reduce the rebate cap from $500,000 to $350,000

2. Declare only wine producers with a financial interest in a winery can claim the rebate

The first change is a revenue grab which will hit the bottom line of winemakers hard.

The second measure is sold as one designed to prevent rorting but will hit hard honest grape growers who sell wine under their own label produced by a contracted winery.

Like the backpacker tax, the Government has failed to consult and poor policy is the outcome.

It’s time for this Government to undertake some meaningful discussion with those who are the backbone of our wonderful wine industry.

CONTACT: NATASA SIKMAN 0467 550 065

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

APC Fee for Service Information

The Agricultural Produce Commission is excited to announce the new APC Wine Producers’ Committee. The Wine Producers’ Committee was established in December 2015, with representation from all the wine regions of Western Australia.

With the relevant legislation now enacted the Committee will work with all Western Australian Wine Regional Associations and the State association to provide services on behalf of Western Australian Wine Producers’. The required funding of a fee for service will be collected from all wine producers annually after vintage, commencing from this 2016 vintage.

The wine industry requires a united, sustainable and influential voice and the creation of the APC Wine Committee, working with all State and Regional Wine Associations will secure a funding model to enable the Western Australian Wine Industry to prosper.

The APC already has 10 Producers’ Committees including vegetables, pome (apples and pears), Carnarvon bananas and strawberry. These APC Committees undertake various initiatives such as industry specific research, industry development, biosecurity, and promotion within industries, and funded by industries.

The APC Chairman, Dr William Ryan said that “The new wine committee structure will provide ongoing funding for both state wide matters and each of the regional wine associations. This is another example of the APC structure providing a good framework by which industries can fund their activities on a sustainable basis.”

The Wine Producers’ Committee represents all West Australian wine regions and with the security of funding will be able to instigate longer term programs to bring about positive change and growth for West Australian Wine Producers.

One already identified goal will be to increase recognition of Western Australian fine wine regions as some of the best, most distinctive, pure, and pristine in the world.

The Chairperson of the Committee; Mr Jeff Burch of Howard Park and MadFish Wines said “We have an exciting future with wine Western Australia, where we have a wonderful product, produced in a clean green environment that is increasingly appreciated globally.

This development will enable the WA Wine Industry to work together to take that message to the global market place. Every bottle of WA Wine sold outside of WA is a post card from Western Australia.”

The Commission and the Committee will work closely with wine producers’ in this first year of operation to ensure a smooth implementation of the new Committee.

Anyone wanting to know more can contact the Committee chairperson, Jeff Burch on 0418 384 558, or the Commission directly through Ingrid Smith, 9368 3127, APCManager@agric.wa.gov.au

 

Building pathways to premium export markets

  • $6.7 million in State Government investment to support 20 new projects
  • Part of the $22.1 million Royalties for Regions Agricultural Sciences Research and Development Fund

Increasing exports of Western Australian barley to Asian brewers and a strategy to increase premium wine exports are among a range of new projects supported by the Liberal National Government to drive agricultural growth.

Agriculture and Food Minister Dean Nalder and Regional Development Minister Terry Redman today announced grants to not-for-profit farmer driven organisations totalling $6.7 million across 20 projects.

"These grants are across a range of areas and form part of the State Government's broader commitment to grow the agrifood sector and capitalise on increasing demand for safe, high-quality food," Mr Nalder said.

"The local groups are co-investing in these initiatives. Wines of Western Australia will use their grant to identify the best pathways to grow the State's premium wine exports.

"Building on existing relationships in Asia, the South East Premium Wheat Growers Association will integrate market intelligence and on-farm agronomic advantages to position WA malting barley as the preferred supply source for Asian brewers."

The grants are part of the Liberal National Government's Agricultural Sciences Research and Development Fund, made possible by the Royalties for Regions Seizing the Opportunity Agriculture initiative.

Mr Redman said the initiative was focused on increasing economic growth in regional communities.

"WA is being increasingly recognised internationally as a potential investment destination for agribusiness due to its availability of land, water and climatic conditions suitable for a wide range of agricultural produces," he said.

"The grants are part of the $22.1 million Agricultural Sciences Research and Development Fund, made possible by Royalties for Regions' $350 million Seizing the Opportunity Agriculture initiative and will help generate long-term improvements to agribusiness in WA."

Additional projects remain under consideration in the first round of grants, and a second funding round through the fund will open later this year.

Fact File

  •  The Agricultural Sciences Research and Development Fund is one of 15 programs under the $350 million Seizing the Opportunity Agriculture initiative

·   For more information, visit there https://www.agric.wa.gov.au

VinSites: Insights from Grape to Glass

In conjunction with Wines of Western Australia and coinciding with the introduction of an APC producers’ committee for winegrapes, DAFWA is partnering with Wine Australia, the grape and wine community’s national statutory services body, on a new national benchmarking system. 

Western Australia has been chosen as the pilot state for VinSites, Wine Australia’s new insights system that will provide grape and wine producers with access to timely and accurate benchmark information, so that they can compare their vineyard’s and/or winery’s business performance with others.

Each vineyard in WA will be mapped in VinSites, a web-based tool, using satellite technology. Maps previously developed by DAFWA and that are freely available to producers, will be used to verify the satellite imagery. These maps can be downloaded from the department’s website. Vineyard owners can then claim their vineyard and enter their own specific varietal, harvest, rootstock, block and water information.

The vineyard information is also linked to production data, with winery intakes to provide winegrowers and winemakers with accurate and timely information about yields by variety and by region. 

Is VinSites data collection mandatory?

Entering data into VinSites is not mandatory. Once vineyard owners claim their vineyard it will be matched with the known crush data information. It is then up to each individual how much extra information they wish to enter for their vineyard. The more information entered, the more accurate and valuable the reports and comparisons become.

Providing a service to levy payers

Currently, the wine sector has access to many disparate data repositories, all with slightly different content or out-of-date information.

VinSites will provide an accurate single source of truth for all wine producers to access. No more unreliable or unconfirmed data. The information entered will come straight from the user, in as much or as little detail as they choose. The user can choose who sees what: what the public see, what other growers see and what Wine Australia can see.

The information will give grape and wine producers an insight into their position in the sector but the value they get out of VinSites will only be as good as the details they enter.

When will VinSites be available?
The new tool will ‘go live’ in Western Australia and the Riverland in August 2016.

How much does it cost to use?
VinSites is a free tool provided by Wine Australia for grape and wine producers.

Is my personal information confidential?
Yes, user privacy and data security is a primary objective of the VinSites development and is assured.

Growers are encouraged to opt in to participate in the pilot. For more information, visit vinsites.wine.

To register, scan the QRcode:

To register, scan the QRcode:

Government Listens to Wine Industry Concerns

Following the announcement of proposed changes to WET legislation in the 2016 Budget, Wines of WA and Regional wine associations consulted widely with WA wine producers to determine the likely social and economic consequences of the changes.

A survey of producers managed by RSM Australia on behalf of the WA wine industry provided detailed information clearly outlining that a “perfect storm of unintended consequences … and extreme rationalisation” would occur if the proposed changes were to be implemented as outlined in the Budget.

Wines of WA requested urgent consultation with Government to present this information and further discuss how WET legislation could be amended to achieve revenue savings while tightening eligibility criteria and returning the Rebate to its original – to support regionally based small and medium wine producers.

Federal members Nola Marino (Forrest), Rick Wilson (O’Connor) and WA Senator Dean Smith invited Senator Anne Ruston, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water to visit WA wine regions to discuss the issues with WA producers. Senator Ruston accepted their invitation.

From Tuesday to Thursday this week, the Senator toured WA wine regions, conducting town hall meetings in Mt Barker, Pemberton, Busselton and the Swan Valley. Producers’ shared their views on the proposed changes and outlined how these would affect their businesses and regions. Summarising the common themes, Wines of WA President, Redmond Sweeny said’ “producers are extremely concerned with the proposed definition of an eligible producers (who can receive the WET Rebate) and the stepped reduction in the amount of Rebate a producer can claim each year. In dollar terms, the effect of the two issues combined would be the direct removal of up to $17 million dollars per year from regional WA towns. In social terms, the flow on effects to jobs and other businesses will be significant. Further work is being done to determine the extent of this impact.”

Senator Ruston spoke to producers across scale of production representative of the WA wine industry. On conclusion of the tour she said, “I have heard their concerns. The industry now needs to work together to gain consensus on how WET legislation should be amended. I can then come back and formally consult on the eligibility and Rebate Cap issues. In caretaker mode during an election, I can only promise to do so if re-elected. I have committed to this if the coalition is re-elected and I maintain my position as Assistant Minister.”