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Tuesday, 9 October 2012
Page: 11680

Mr FORREST (Mallee) (16:44): I rise to draw the public's attention to a very sad state of affairs occurring in my electorate. The liquidators of a failed wine business, which collapsed three years ago in June 2009, are pursuing 20 of my wine grape growers for door payments which were paid well prior to the collapse of nectar. I think this is an undesirable thing for the liquidator to be trying to do to my wine grape growers, who are hard pressed. Neqtar was the successor to Normans Wines, which went bust owing the same growers enormous amounts of money for crop delivered.

If the liquidator argues that his legal justification to pursue my growers is because the directors of Neqtar at the time were trading insolvently, then his problem is with the directors, not with my growers, who still await a payment for the total tonnage of wine crop they delivered to this winery. I think it is unreasonable by this liquidator. He may, as he argues, have the law onside, but if his problem is with the directors beforehand then he must pursue them. More than likely, although I am not aware, $1 would get me $100 that they have declared themselves bankrupt. This is commonly occurring in many sectors across Australia. I am urging the growers—there are 20 of them; they live around the districts of Robinvale and Mildura—to stare down this liquidator as they did when a similar liquidator tried to do the same thing to them with Normans Wines nearly three years ago. The liquidator has redeemed an enormous amount of capital out of Neqtar. He has sold all of the equipment there to a local consortium, Qualia Wine, who at last vintage crushed 40,000 tonnes of grapes successfully.

This parliament needs to recognise that its mandatory code of conduct must apply across all of the states. This parliament can use its corporate capacity through the Constitution to give these struggling growers—and it is not just wine grape growers; it is across any sector for any commodity—some protection so that when they are paid a door payment and then are still whistling and waiting for the payment for the total tonnage delivered, they do not find themselves, if a corporation goes bust, with a liquidator pursuing them years later. (Time expired)