In a hope to form a strong, effective voice in federal parliament, the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia and Australian Vignerons will ask its members to vote on a potential amalgamation of the two industry bodies on November 13.
WFA chief executive Tony Battaglene said there had been discussions for many years to reform the grape and wine representative bodies to help deliver greater unity and representation of the sector as a whole.
“It has been made clear to me, that political parties of all persuasions would welcome representation from a single body for the grape and wine sector and our advocacy efforts would be much stronger,” he said.
AV chief executive officer Anna Hooper said the creation of a single body would provide stronger representation for members, improved efficiency and increased positive outcomes for the entire grape and wine sector.
“The federal government has made it clear they do not want to hear from two industry bodies with opposing views – sometimes the government’s responses do not always reflect what industry want and the new body will help work toward changing that,” she said.
The WFA and AV boards have joined together in support of the move to amalgamate.
But, Ms Hooper said it was too early to discuss the new structure of the body.
“We will not be dropping off any of the initiatives and outcomes we have already achieved for our members, in particular work around biosecurity and chemical access,” she said.
“But the biosecurity landscape is front of mind for industry. It has not necessarily been a process of neglect by the industry bodies but more of a realisation that it is emerging as an issue that is getting more and more critical.
“A heightened threat has become chemical availability, so as a united body we would be able to do more work in that space.”
Good decision making was key to overcoming challenges within the industry too, according to Ms Hooper.
“We need to be prepared so we can create an industry that is resistant to big issues and especially have responses to chemicals being banned,” she said.
“Some state wine and grape growing bodies have merged but as a federal level it comes with challenges. Though, it has been successful in New Zealand because it has generated progressive thinking to form collective decisions.”
The official vote will occur at the WFA and AV annual general meetings.
“What is good for winemakers is good for grape growing and if we all keep that in mind, the benefits of the amalgamation will be clear,” Ms Hooper said.
A merger decision is expected to be reached by early January 2019.