Australian Grape & Wine no longer has the industry mandate to continue to exclusively represent the interests of all Australian producers.
So says Bill Moularadellis, pictured, owner of Kingston Estate in the Riverland and chair of the Australian Commercial Wine Producers Ltd (ACWP).
“And it certainly does not have the moral authority to convene the R&D and Marketing Advisory Committees which advise Wine Australia’s strategic priorities,” he says.
The ACWP has written to Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt seeking to be formally recognised as a declared representative body as provided for by the Wine Australia Act (2013).
“ACWP was established three years ago to represent the interests of commercial winemakers,” Mr Moularadellis says.
“Our members account for over 60 percent of Australian wine production and contribute a similar proportion of the mandatory levies.
“We seek equitable status with Australian Grape & Wine (AGW), whose members contribute less than 25 percent of the industry’s total production and levy revenue.”
Mr Moularadellis says “it is fair and just” that members of ACWP have at least an equal formal voice in setting the directions and priorities of the industry.
“Especially at this time when the industry is facing its worst crisis in more than a generation,” he says.
“Discussions to more equitably represent commercial producers within AGW have proven to be disappointing over a long period.
“It would be very difficult for the Minister not to accept ACWP’s moral case for equitable representation based on the information we have presented.”
Lee McLean, chief executive of Australian Grape & Wine, says it’s disappointing that ACWP has chosen to raise these issues at a time when “there are more serious and fundamental issues that need addressing” in our sector.
“While there are significant question marks relating to the figures put forward by ACWP, we will not engage in a public debate on this issue,” he says.
“Rather than focusing on industry politics, Australian Grape & Wine is working to address the issues that matter to our industry.
“We’ve been focused on, amongst many other things, on working with Government to find a pathway to resolving trade impediments with China; seeking alternatives to costly and ineffective Container Deposit Scheme proposals; protecting Australian producers’ rights to use the grape variety name Prosecco; addressing the concerns of grapegrowers in the current oversupply situation; and countering anti-alcohol group claims that Australian winemakers should apply additional health warning labels on their products.”