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THE WINE INDUSTRY has applauded the Federal Government’s decision to push forward as a priority with the creation of a new statutory authority to support Australia’s winemakers and wine grape growers.

A Bill to establish a new Australian Grape and Wine Authority through the merger of the existing Wine Australia Corporation (WAC) and Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC) was introduced into Parliament yesterday morning.

The Bill passed the House of Representatives with all-party support earlier this year but was still before the Senate when Parliament was prorogued for the September election.

“It is significant this is the first piece of legislation put forward by the new Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce and we are confident it will again be well supported,” Wine Grape Growers Australia (WGGA) chair Vic Patrick said.

“We note his commitment to have the new authority operational by 1 July next year.”

WGGA and the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) – the industry’s representative bodies – proposed the merger last year after consulting with members and stakeholders.

WFA president Tony D’Aloisio said combining two successful statutory authorities was a big step, but the clear message from the industry was that a single organisation would be in a better position to effectively and efficiently meet its needs.

“It will have a better capability to identify and deliver aligned industry strategic imperatives and R&D goals, and deliver industry programs – and that is vital if we are to maintain a profitable and sustainable wine sector,” he said.

“We are confident this Bill will have widespread support in Parliament and hope it will be passed quickly to allow everyone to prepare for a smooth transition.”