By James Wells

Winemakers Federation of Australia CEO Tony Battaglene has described the attacks on the wine sector by anti-alcohol lobby group, FARE, as “deeply insulting” and “outrageous”.

“The attack by FARE is deeply insulting to the wine industry but also the whole of regional Australia,” Battaglene told TheShout.

“I was personally outraged, that a group supported by taxpayer funds, including those paid by the hard working members of the wine industry, uses these funds to attack the wine industry rather than working with industry groups, on what we are doing to promote responsible consumption.

Battaglene was referring to the claims by the anti-alcohol lobby group, FARE, that Australian Winemakers are deliberately rorting the Australian Taxation system.

“The rather superficial analysis [by FARE] does not reflect the reality of either Australian wine businesses or tax law. A company paying lower levels of tax than the headline rates, reflects that either this year or in an earlier year they made a loss which they can apply to current profits. The wine sector, mostly family owned businesses, have weathered difficult trading conditions but remain long term and consistent providers of jobs and economic growth in regional Australia.

“These allegations are outrageous and insulting to the 170,000 workers who rely on the wine sector for a living. The wine industry takes corporate governance seriously, and plays a significant role in Australia’s regional economies. It is disappointing that an anti-alcohol lobby group once again slurs the whole industry and regional Australia.

“Their commissioned report called into question the entire winemaking sector and the information was out of date. We can only assume that this was deliberate to use this misinformation in the context of the present industry dynamics.

“The other major concern is that FARE is attempting to place the wine industry under an excise system. All of the associated red tape will send a lot of people broke and you have to question why you would want to create this situation.”

Battaglene said it was important to remember that the Australian wine industry is a significant economic contributor, particularly in rural and regional areas.

“The Australian Wine Industry Contributes $40.2 billion in gross output to the Australian economy. Gross output includes $19.7 billion in value (value-added) and $10.4 billion in wages and salaries from full and part time employment. It also supports 172,736 full and part time jobs, most of which are located in regional Australia,” he said.

“The Australian wine sector has been instrumental in the current Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) Reforms and is working closely with the Federal Government to achieve a fairer and tighter tax system for wine.

“Our industry pays its way, with some of the highest tax rates in the world. We have also recently worked closely with the government to tighten the current Wine Equalisation Tax System. I would encourage FARE to look at the facts for once, and acknowledge the recent reforms undertaken by the government, and the importance of the wine sector to Australia’s economy.”

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *