Mildura Weekly : February 21 2014 Vol 8 No 16
www.milduraweekly.com.au 4 Mildura Weekly – 21/02/14 WINE grape industry leaders from Sunraysia, the Riverland and the Riv- erina met with Federal Ag- riculture Minister Barnaby Joyce in Mildura this week as part of a push to com- bat what they’ve described as predatory commercial practices of the major wineries. Grower representative bodies have been locked in a long-running battle with wineries for more transparent pricing which better reflects true market conditions. It’s a push that gained fresh impetus this year in the wake of plummet- ing wine grape prices - in some cases up to 60 per- cent lower than last year. “The issue of mar- ket price that most of the major companies are committed to is not a real measure, because we believe the market is in- fluenced by the decisions they make with their in- dicative pricing, so the future of indicative pric- ing is very much under the microscope,” Murray Valley Winegrowers chief executive Mark McKenzie said ahead of Wednesday’s meeting with Mr Joyce. Speaking yesterday, Mr McKenzie said he be- lieved the meeting, which was facilitated by Fed- eral Member for Mallee Andrew Broad, had pro- gressed the plight of wine grape growers and helped put the issue in the Fed- eral political spotlight. “I think we had a very good hearing and the most important thing is that he (Mr Joyce) under- stands our concerns about the commercial system prevailing in the indus- try,” he said. “I think he was a bit amazed that it is very dif- ficult in this industry for a grower to know what sort of return they’re going to get before they grow their crop. “The pricing system is not transparent and the market signals don’t occur early enough, which is at the heart of the issue. “Getting him aware of the lack of market trans- parency and the lack of information upon which we can make well-found- ed decisions, and the fact that there is a huge imbal- ance in market power, was a huge plus for us. “We now have a Fed- eral Agriculture Minister who knows we do have a problem and we look forward to working with Andrew Broad to progress this.” Wednesday’s talks will be followed up by two days of meetings in Canberra next week be- tween wine grape indus- try leaders and Federal politicians, which coin- cides with the next Parlia- mentary sitting dates. Mr McKenzie said an- other, longer term, initia- tive was the development of a mandatory code of conduct to replace the ex- isting voluntary mecha- nism for wineries, which he said had failed. Taking wine grape woes to the top • I’M LISTENING: Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, left, accompanied by Member for Mallee, Andrew Broad, was in Mildura this week to hear the plight of wine grape growers. • From Page 3 Five years earlier, former Princes Court Homes chief, Bruce McLean, met with former Victorian Finance Minister Tim Holding to discuss the issue, but a deal couldn’t be struck. Mr Wescombe said this week while Princes Court Homes had shown interest in the site, further inspections revealed it would require too much work to undertake on its own. “We had a good look through and basically decided that it was really beyond our ability to deal with the building,” he said. “As a result of that we then kept a listening watch on what might happen and haven’t re- ally discussed it beyond that point.” Mr Wescombe stressed that it was still “very early days” but said he was open to further dis- cussions about the site with the new owners. “I expect Bob Faulkhead has his own ideas and he would be aware that we’re here, and that we have a viable organisation sitting next door,” he said. “Our concern is running out of land. He would be aware of that, but it may not fit in with what he’s got in mind. “It’s very early days and we haven’t thrown the idea out yet. Who knows what the future holds? We never close our options and it would be silly to simply close our minds to the site. “We’ll be waiting to see what happens from here.” Meanwhile, Mr Wescombe said he wel- comed any progress on the site, which he de- scribed in its current state as “a huge hole in the Thirteenth Street precinct that has needed to be filled”, adding that any robust develop- ment would be welcomed provided it didn’t impact negatively on the lifestyles and ameni- ties of Princes Court Homes residents. Princes Court Homes open to MBH options City Heart Market LANGTREE Avenue (between 9th and 10th Streets) will be the venue for this Sunday’s City Heart Market, 8am to 1pm. Managed by the Loddon Mallee Region Girl Guides, everything from crafts to clothing, home cooking, fresh fruit and vegetables, jewellery, natural beauty products and woodwork items will be available. For more information telephone 0400 032 803, Monday to Friday.
Friday February 14 2014 Vol 8 No 15
February 28 2014 Vol 8 No 17