Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 07, 2024


Riverland Wine Industry Blueprint

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (14:38): Thank you, Mr Government. I seek leave to make—Mr President.

Members interjecting:

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: You really are pathetic.

The PRESIDENT: The honourable Leader of the Opposition, ask your question.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: Mr President, I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Primary Industries a question about Riverland wine grape growers and the wine industry blueprint.

Leave granted.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: On 6 February in this chamber, the minister indicated that she was attempting to address the issues that our growers face in the Riverland by engaging in discussions with China. Wine growers are currently facing very challenging circumstances. They feel powerless, bullied and pressured into accepting terms of a new preferred supplier agreement that has the potential to hurt the industry.

The minister has at numerous times referred to the government's Riverland wine industry blueprint as a silver bullet to address the needs of the industry. On 8 February 2023, when I then raised the crisis occurring in the Riverland wine industry, the minister in this chamber made the following statement concerning that blueprint:

This is a strategic road map to supply the recovery and development of this region over the next 10 years.

I am hearing something entirely different from Riverland constituents. A seriously impacted grower contacted my office and said the following concerning the blueprint:

The blueprint is a fundamental nonsense. It's a pretend, feel-good exercise and the Minister has a fundamental lack of knowledge of what's needed.

My questions to the minister are:

1. Does the minister seriously believe that supporting negotiations with China will address the immediate and serious issues facing our growers in the Riverland?

2. In what ways has this bureaucratically-driven blueprint actually assisted our growers in the current crisis they are facing?

3. Will the minister be attending in person the Riverland wine industry update town meeting on 21 February?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:41): I thank the honourable member for her question, despite the fact that it contains certain inaccuracies. I think I could probably place my hand on heart and say that never once have I said that the blueprint is a silver bullet. In actual fact, I have said that it is one of many actions that need to be taken. In fact, on many occasions, certainly in public forums and on media, I have said that there is not a silver bullet. It is a matter of industry working together, a matter of many steps, and I outlined a number of those steps yesterday.

The blueprint was developed with industry. The blueprint was not driven by government or by bureaucracy or administration or whatever term it was the honourable member used. The blueprint was called for by industry at a round table held in I think it was November 2022. The blueprint was then developed by industry with industry and is one of the many steps. I outlined yesterday other steps we are taking.