Nationals Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan is calling on the Federal Labor Government to continue the crucial Wine Tourism and Cellar Door grants after failing to provide a coherent response, let alone confirm, if the program would continue.
Nationals leader David Littleproud said the grants enable wine or cider producers, who met the eligibility criteria in the preceding financial year, to access an annual grant of up to $100,000.
“Regional wine and cider producers across Australia are relying on the grants,” Mr Littleproud said.
“I urge the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to open the program for applications as soon as possible,” Mr Littleproud said.
Federal Nationals Member for Cowper, Pat Conaghan, said the grant round normally opened on July 1 and closed on September 30 and the delay was causing anxiety among wine and cider producers in Cowper.
“As the program is retrospective and grants would relate to eligible cellar door sales made in the 2021-2022 financial year, it is important that those businesses are able to access the grants as soon as possible,” Mr Conaghan said.
“Businesses have made monetary decisions during the past financial year based on the knowledge that the program would be available the following financial year.
“Australia’s grape and wine industry faces challenges including the cost of doing business, while still recovering from the impact of COVID-19 and natural disasters in our region. Any further delay in delivery of the grants will continue to cause unnecessary stress and uncertainty for businesses and families.”
The grant was previously aimed at encouraging more Australian wine tourism and creating jobs. Total funding under the grant was capped at $10 million each financial year.
“Putting a cork in these grants would harm our great wine and cider industry, an arena that the Mid North Coast is beginning to expand,” Mr Conaghan said.
“We want to toast the industry, not destroy it, and work with Labor to ensure its success.”