The Coalition's Wine Equalisation Tax reforms support the big end of town at the expense of local businesses, resulting in hardship and a loss of jobs across the South West’s wine growing regions, the Greens said today.
Greens Senator for Western Australia and spokesperson on Agriculture, Rachel Siewert, who was involved in the inquiry into the Australian Wine and Grape Industry, said the reforms fail to acknowledge the importance of supporting our tourism and agricultural sectors as we transition out of the mining boom.
“The Wine industry is a key part of building local tourism opportunities and employing people in our rural communities.
“The Coalition Government has ineptly mishandled the changes to the eligibility criteria for the WET rebate, has not listened to smaller growers and winemakers and not understood the innovation that exists in the local industry. Many operators do not “own an interest in a winery” but are legitimate and valued players in the local winery and tourism industry.
“The eligibility criteria needs to include ‘wine growers’ and exclude producers who are using the tax to sell large quantities of cheap wine. “ Senator Siewert said.
Greens Senate candidate Michael Baldock has spoken with local producers who face great uncertainty with the proposed rapid reduction in the WET Rebate and revised WET Rebate eligibility criteria.
“Many who have taken out loans and invested will not be able to adjust their operations to remain financially viable under the WET Rebate reduction timetable.
“By delaying changes to the eligibility criteria until after the election, the Coalition is extending the uncertainty,“ Mr Baldock said.
Senator Siewert confirmed that the Greens will continue to pursue a tiered volumetric tax into the future but are concerned to see the current WET Rebate operate fairly.