I bring to the Senate several decades of experience in agri-business and I continue to have a stake in the wine industry today.
There are more than 60 designated wine regions spanning every Australian state and we are the world’s fourth largest exporter of wine. About 40% of national wine production is consumed in our $2.8 billion domestic market.
Australia has almost 2000 wine producers, most of which are small businesses.
Wine contributes to our economy through production, employment, export and tourism like few other industries do. South Australian wine makers produce more than half of our total national output and for that reason I am proud to be an advocate for the industry in the Federal Parliament.
The Australian wine industry has been in the doldrums for more than a decade. 60% of our wine producers are breaking even while 30% are losing money. Only 10% of Australian wine makers are making a profit.
It’s essentially a case of over production with too few buyers. The reasons are complex but the solution is not: with our currency below 1 US Dollar, export markets that have been in hibernation are back in action, particularly the United States, traditionally a very important one.
A parallel problem is the Wine Equalisation Tax rebate system, which I believe is being misused and its eligibility must be tightened.
The task is now to resurrect our brand in foreign markets in order to return the sector to profitability as soon as possible.