By Andy Young
The Australian wine industry has united over next week's Federal Budget asking for one-off funding and an abolition of the New Zealand wine rebate scheme.
The Winemakers' Federation of Australia (WFA), with the backing of Wine Grape Growers Australia, Wines of Western Australia, South Australian Wine Industry Association, Wine Tasmania, Wine Victoria, the New South Wales Wine Association and Queensland Wine Industry Association, as well as wine regions including Riverland, Riverina and Murray Valley, has made a request for $25 million over four years to boost the marketing activities undertaken by its statutory authority.
The industry has cited favourable exchange rate changes, Free Trade Agreements and an upturn in consumer demand, particularly in North America, as justification for the funding.
"Together we are saying we need government's urgent help to seize the market opportunity and to help reengage global wine buyers," WFA chief executive Paul Evans said.
The WFA has also confirmed it has partaken in "constructive discussions" with the government on Wine Equalisation Tax rebate reform. The government has confirmed that it is referring proposed WET reforms to "a specific discussion paper process which will be expedited ahead of its broader Tax Review".
In a statement the WFA said: "These proposed changes also have the backing of the wine organisations listed above and include the abolition of the separate New Zealand rebate scheme and the phasing out of rebate eligibility for bulk and unbranded wine."
Evans added: "While there will be industry disappointment that our WET rebate reforms will not be part of next week's Budget, we have highlighted a compelling case for structural reform and government is listening," Mr Evans said.
"We also note that government has acknowledged in yesterday's announcement the strong push from industry for reform.
"Government has also noted our arguments on the urgency of reform and agreed to bring forward options for consideration before the Tax White Paper concludes which is an important development."