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Call for WGCA [Winegrape Growers' Council of Australia] to strengthen its position.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Senator David Brownhill, today called for the Winegrape Growers' Council of Australia (WGCA) to broaden its membership base to increase its effectiveness.

Speaking to the WGCA annual general meeting in Griffith, Senator Brownhill congratulated the WGCA, and the wine industry as a whole, for the work that had resulted in the outstanding industry success of recent years.

"A combination of leading- edge practices, sound economics and buoyant demand has greatly benefited your industry," he said.

"However, it should be plain that a broader and more unified WGCA would have much more leverage in achieving positive outcomes for viticulture."

Senator Brownhill said he believed the WGCA, which currently represents independent grapegrowers, needed to take three main actions to strengthen its national voice. He said:

. it should, whenever possible, join with the Winemakers' Federation of Australia (WFA) in identifying priorities to Government;

. it should examine the possibility of representing all sectors of winegrape viticulture; and

. most importantly, the WGCA needs broad national membership and financial security.

Senator Brownhill said he was aware these options raised a number of administrative and political issues, but stated it was imperative for the WGCA to address them now.

Further inquiries:

Murray Hansen, Senator Brownhill's office, 067 666 998