The NSW Wine Industry Association (NSWWIA) says it has “strong concerns” about some of the changes to the rules surrounding the WET rebate.
“Especially in the reduction of the cap from the current $500,000 down to $290,000 over the next two years,” president Tom Ward says.
Tom is “cautiously pleased” with the decision by the Federal Government to provide $50 million over four years to the industry via Wine Australia (AGWA).
“Some of these moneys will be used for promoting wine tourism in Australia. NSW wine tourism is a strong and growing part of the State’s economy and the NSWWIA welcomes initiatives that will help grow this area. We look forward to working with all relevant parties to ensure that part of this money will assist the growth of wine tourism in NSW.”
The NSWWIA supports the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia’s position on the removal of WET eligibility on bulk and unbranded wine.
Tom says that the rebate reduction will have “particular impact” on many mid-sized operations in NSW and will directly impact their business and threaten employment in the regions.
“This group has already been hit by the withdrawal by the NSW Government of $3.5 million in funding for the Cellar Door Subsidy Scheme from 30 June 2012. Taking a further $210,000 from each of the larger wineries will further erode profitability and discourage investment in tourism assets in regions,” Tom says.
“A further complication is the announced eligibility clause which states that to qualify for the WET rebate that you need to have a physical winery or a substantial lease of a winery. This is squarely at odds with the NSW producer licence eligibility which allows wine to be sold at cellar door which is either substantially made at the winery or is 85 percent made up from grapes grown on the vineyard where the cellar door is located. Again, this was to encourage investment in cellar doors in regions.
“We welcome the consultation process over the various definitions over the next months and years. We will continue to work with the various State and (where appropriate) Federal Government departments as well as the key wine industry bodies to ensure that the long-term growth of the wine industry in NSW is assured.”