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Question: Barossa Wine

22 February 2024

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:49): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development on the topic of Barossa wine.
Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: On Monday evening, the ABC's Four Corners program reported on a bottle of wine that was purchased from the Coles-owned Vintage Cellars: Two Churches The Preacher Shiraz. The model was marketed as wine from the Barossa Valley and it featured on the label a story of two churches purportedly from the Barossa. The wine was actually produced by Coles. In the program, the Barossa grapegrower Adrian Hoffmann said:
It sounds like a Barossa story but…you can't be guaranteed that it's Barossa fruit…Rod Simms, who was the ACCC chairperson—Simmses are usually a good authority on these matters—between 2011 and 2022, stated in the program:
…the test under law is, would a reasonable consumer be misled? Now if on the label of the bottle you are telling a story that's unrelated to the product, then I think that runs a serious risk of being misleading.

My question to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development is: what is the government doing to protect the brand reputation of the South Australian wine regions, and is she concerned that this practice is widespread?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:51): I thank the honourable member for his question. Indeed, this is something that has been raised with me literally within the last probably week and a half, prior to the Four Corners program but that of course has also brought it into the public eye. I think we would probably all join with wanting to see accuracy in terms of the story that's being told on labels and in terms of other narratives, I guess, around where particular products originate, and that there is not misleading labelling.

On the whole, many of the issues around labelling are within the federal jurisdiction. I am keen to see whether there is anything that can be done to address the issue that has been identified and to understand to what extent it is widespread or whether it is contained to a small number of examples. Either way, if it was the latter we wouldn't want that to expand to become widespread. I am keen to look at what actions may be possible within the state jurisdiction.

However, I would also just mention that labelling is a huge cost to the wine industry. We would all be aware of the challenges that the wine industry is facing at the moment. Where there are additions to labelling, that can often incur huge costs. Where there are different requirements between states, given that many of our wineries do sell their wine interstate, that can cause additional problems and challenges as well. So I think it is important to look at this issue but also to ensure that any potential action doesn't have unintended consequences that may actually be to the detriment of the wine industry and the very producers we might be trying to support.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:53): Supplementary: noting the minister's statement that labelling is a federal issue, will the minister undertake to raise the matter with her counterpart in Canberra?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:53): We will be looking at all opportunities to be able to investigate and, where appropriate, to advocate to my commonwealth counterparts.