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Wednesday, 7 June 1989
Page: 3535

Senator CROWLEY —Has the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce seen the article in the Adelaide Advertiser of 3 June 1989 headed `Winemakers Change Tack on Tax', which reports that the wine industry has decided to move away from a campaign focused entirely on wine stock tax to a broader examination of its industry, affecting domestic viability and its ability to expand exports? Can the Minister tell the Senate what forms of assistance the Government is currently providing to assist wine and brandy producers, particularly the boutique wineries, to find, develop and expand overseas markets for their products and what further assistance could be provided?

Senator BUTTON —The article in question has been drawn to my attention.

Senator Newman —Surprise, surprise.

Senator BUTTON —It is not surprising, Senator.

Senator Newman —On notice again?

Senator BUTTON —No, this is a question from Senator Crowley.

Senator Newman —Who gave you the question and the cutting?

Senator BUTTON —Mr President, Senator Crowley drew my attention to the article in question and asked me to obtain some information. That is a totally legitimate function of Question Time. If Senator Newman does not understand that now, perhaps she will in a few years time when she has a bit more experience. I know of Senator Crowley's longstanding interest in the wine industry and, therefore, I obtained the following answer.

First of all, I welcome the emphasis on expanding export markets, wherever they happen to be. Exports of Australian wine have risen rapidly in recent years from $17m in 1984-85 to $97m in 1987-88. This has been across both bulk and bottled wine. To come to the point of the question of what government assistance there is in terms of wine exports-which, as I have just pointed out, have grown significantly-Austrade is active in the promotion of Australian wine overseas, in association with the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation. Austrade posts assist exporters in finding markets by putting them in contact with potentially interested importers and distributors. In addition, the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation and wine exporters participate in a number of Austrade-sponsored trade displays and promotions in a range of overseas markets. For example, the Austrade post in Paris is now involved in assisting with arrangements for an Australian industry display at Vin Expo in Bordeaux, which will take place from 19 June to 23 June. That is the premier show for the wine industry internationally. Similarly, the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation is involved with Australian participation in a big wine show in Cologne in October 1989, and there have been similar efforts in North America, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom and, of course, Japan. The amounts of money and assistance provided by Austrade are in addition to the export market development grants scheme for trade promotional activity overseas. In the expansion of the horizons of the wine industry-I notice Senator Messner, who took up the cudgels on behalf of the wine industry in terms of the sales tax--

Senator Newman —What about interest rates?

Senator BUTTON —This expansion is very welcome. Senator Newman rabbits away about interest rates. The expansion is taking place, and will continue to take place. Senator Crowley-who has a legitimate interest in this subject, as distinct from Senator Newman-and the industry can be assured of the Government's continuing assistance in this area.

Senator Newman —We have a wine industry too.

Senator BUTTON —I knew the senator would introduce at the end of her interjections a parochial consideration in this matter. We are talking about an Australian industry which is expanding its export activity and doing so very successfully.