Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 08, 2023


Wine Industry

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (14:26): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development on the wine industry.

Leave granted.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: Wine Australia's latest report shows that the red wine glut continues, with production estimated to have exceeded sales for the second year in a row. Crisis meetings are being held across the Riverland after growers in Australia's largest wine region, accounting for 32 per cent of the annual crush, were told earlier this year by multinational Accolade Wines that it would compensate growers to mothball red grapevines or switch to white varieties.

It is reported that up to 40 per cent of the Riverland's cab sav and shiraz grown this year has nowhere to go, with last year's excess red wine still sitting in tanks that are yet to be cleared for the upcoming 2023 vintage. My questions to the minister are:

1. Has the minister received a briefing about the latest estimates in the crisis facing South Australian grapegrowers?

2. What new programs has the Labor government announced and commenced or not yet commenced since March 2022 to support grapegrowers and wine producers?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:27): I thank the honourable Leader of the Opposition for her question. I have had a number of briefings in regard to the oversupply of red wine grapes and the impact it is having on our South Australian producers, particularly those in the Riverland. I conducted a round table with producers in the Riverland late last year, at which were representatives of my department and also the Department for Trade and Investment. Unfortunately, the Minister for Trade and Investment was ill that day and couldn't attend, although he had planned to do so.

In terms of ongoing programs, there are a number, but I also bring the honourable member's attention to a recent announcement that I made about two or three weeks ago that PIRSA has partnered with Riverland Wine to develop the Riverland wine industry blueprint. This is a strategic road map to supply the recovery and development of this region over the next 10 years. That came about because of that round table and the feedback that we received.

A number of producers there were talking about the fact that there are statewide and federal programs, both of which are useful and have some very good applications, but what they were looking for was a more strategic approach for the whole Riverland region.

I am very pleased to have been able to provide funding for the development of such a plan, and that will help to ensure that approaches and changes in behaviour from growers and so on are made with the full knowledge of what the overall strategy is for the Riverland. Obviously, producers and businesses make their own individual decisions, but if they have a strategy for their area, that will assist them to do so.

In addition to that, the state government has a formal partnership with the South Australian Wine Industry Association, which is supported by a $1 million commitment over the next four years from PIRSA. That project continues to support initiatives at a state or regional level that can improve the capability and capacity of the wine industry across a range of areas, and that includes from viticulture right through to customer service.

A number of other programs are available through the department of industry and trade, and I think I have answered questions previously on that or had the answers taken on notice, and the answers were provided back from the Minister for Trade and Investment.