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Thursday, 11 October 2012
Page: 8094

Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government

(Question No. 2012)


Senator Whish-Wilson asked the Minister representing the Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, upon notice, on 14 August 2012:

With reference to the $300,000 research grant provided to Smart Viticulture under the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement $20 million Economic Diversification Package:

(1) Was the Tasmanian wine industry, including its peak body Wine Industry Tasmania, consulted directly in relation to:

(a) Tasmanian wine industry research, or other priorities and funding opportunities under the Economic Diversification Package; and

(b) their views on the Smart Viticulture research project, study of vineyard sites and climate.

(2) What was the exact process that led to the granting of $300,000 funding to Smart Viticulture under the Economic Diversification Package.

(3) Was this specific study to be undertaken by Smart Viticulture as a part of the Economic Diversification Package put out to tender; if not, why not.


Senator Conroy: The Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The Tasmanian wine industry, including its peak body Wine Tasmania was consulted with directly by both the Tasmanian and Australian Governments in relation to the proposed Wine Industry Research and Industry Development Project. The feedback provided by the industry on the initial project proposal enabled governments to refine the project to meet industry needs.

(2) In accordance with Clause 41 of the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement (TFIGA), the Australian and Tasmanian Governments worked collaboratively and came to agreement on the design, criteria, joint assessment procedures, and monitoring and evaluation of the $16 million package.

The Australian Government contracted the Australian Innovation Research Centre (AIRC) at the University of Tasmania to conduct socio economic research and provide initial investment options to shape the $16 million package

In accordance with this requirement, research from the Australian Innovation Research Centre outlined a set of five criteria to ensure that projects contribute to economic diversification, are sustainable, utilise a place-based approach, build capability in regions, and promote collaboration.

Project proposals were identified through extensive consultation in Tasmania including with Regional Development Australia, Regional Reference Groups, Ministerial Forums, Community Consultation and the work of the AIRC. The recommendations of the AIRC included a project to identify optimal seasonally frost-free sites for cool-climate wine production.

Each of the economic diversification projects identified for 2011-12 was evaluated for consistency and alignment with the objectives of the TFIGA economic diversification funding and was provided in accordance with the Financial Management and Accountability Act (Cwlth) 1997.

Major regional development projects under the TFIGA were agreed by a joint Ministerial council, comprising the Tasmanian minister responsible for economic development and the Commonwealth Minister for Regional Australia.

(3) The project was not put out to tender as consultation with industry and research experts determined that Smart Viticulture was the leading expert to conduct the research.