Wine Victoria today welcomed the Labor Party's pre-election announcements to invest in the Victorian Wine Industry through key policy areas including tourism, international exports, biosecurity and regional job creation.
Wine Victoria chair Damien Sheehan said the commitments are an excellent example of what the association has been recommending to both parties during the state election campaigns.
Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Development Jacinta Allan today announced a $1 million plan, which includes:
• dedicated funds to boost cellar door visits with the creation of a Victorian Wine Tourism Strategy;
• a fund to support wine exports by growing overseas markets
The wine industry would also be set to benefit from:
• a new Ministerial Wine Industry Advisory Group to address issues such as research and development and pest and disease control;
• four "reverse" super trade missions promised over Labor's first term, with wine exports included under "food and fibre" (one of eight "emerging and growing industries" that are a focus of the missions);
• eligibility to access a $200 million Future Industries Fund where "food and fibre" businesses are one of six growth industries eligible for grants of up to $1 million (recipients to contribute matching figure) or general grants of up to $500,000 (recipients to contribute $3 for every $1 rewarded);
• eligibility to access a $200 million Regional Jobs Fund to support job-creating projects (such as manufacturing processing plant upgrades, marketing support for international exports)
"As the Victorian wine industry's peak advocacy body, we have been making the case for the Government to partner with industry on more inbound wine-based trade missions and tourism related activities, so these policies are significant for Victorian wine makers and grape growers," said Wine Victoria Chair Damien Sheehan.
"We'll work closely with Wine Victoria to boost jobs, tourism and exports," said Ms Allan.
Tourism is a major economic driver for Victoria, with wine related tourism seeing an economic value of more than $1 billion per year in Victoria, including 1.5 million annual winery visitors.
The wine industry is also an important exporting partner for Victoria and known to be one of the state's most valuable food export categories, with exports worth $197 million per year and growing.
"Trade missions will help bring domestic and international market influencers directly into our regions, tasting wine poured by our own winemakers, in our own cellar doors," Sheehan said.
He said inbound trade missions would be a big step towards reversing the wine industry's profitability issues, as wine producers have faced barriers including oversupply and fierce international competition.
"It is pleasing that Labor has recognised the potential export value of Victoria's specialty – premium wines – and these policies will help to capitalise on the world's demand for this quality of wine, which Victoria offers in abundance."
Recent reports from the Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA) highlighted that during the 2013-14 financial year premium wine (over $7.50 per litre) grew in many markets generating almost $450m in annual sales, or a quarter of the value of Australia's wine export market.
Sheehan also notes that the Coalition Government has promised $500,000 for wine specific in-bound trade missions in 2015.
"Whichever party ends up being elected, we look forward to working with the Victorian Government to ensure Victoria's wine regions are on show at their finest."