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Australian wine bodies unite in call for tax reform and more marketing investment

Published:  14 September, 2015

Two leading Australian wine trade bodies have called on the federal government to make tax reforms and invest more in global marketing to help the industry.

The Winemakers' Federation of Australia and the Wine Grape Growers Australia has called for changes to the wine equalisation tax (WET) rebate before the 2016 vintage so that producers can take advantage of current exchange rates and recent free-trade agreements.

The bodies are calling for the WET rebate to be kept in line with its original intention to deliver long-term benefits to industry and tourism in regional Australia.

They want to see schemes which result in unintended beneficiaries receiving the rebate shut down and the rebate phased out on bulk and unbranded wine over the next four years.

They say this will encourage production of brands that "command consumer loyalty and profitable margins to reinvest".

WFA chief executive Paul Evans said that these and other reforms to the WET rebate scheme would deliver a conservative estimate of A$234 million (£107.3 million) over the next four years.

The bodies want A$44 million (£20.1 million) of this to be earmarked to boost marketing in export territories.

"The industry plan has been developed through extensive consultation over the past two years and it is backed by detailed analysis, independent modelling and expert legal advice," said Evans.

"The plan sets out what must be done to aid an uplift in profitability and prices for both winemakers and grape growers.

"There is industry acknowledgement that WET rebate reform is required for the benefit of the industry as a whole, while the importance of a boost to our global marketing efforts is even more widely accepted."

WGGA executive director Lawrie Stanford added: "Wine grape growers have been doing it tougher for longer and we will continue to lose good business people if the necessary reforms to both supply and demand are delayed."