Cellar Door WET Rebate Petition

Cellar Door Subsidy Scheme RE: Termination of State Cellar Door WET Rebate.

We have received several enquiries from members over press releases made by the Hunter Tourism Board and recent newspaper articles concerning the State Government’s decision to terminate the cellar door WET rebate on cellar door wine sales made by many of the most successful wine companies in the Hunter Valley.

This rebate has been around in one form or another for over 40 years and acknowledges the high costs of establishing and maintaining cellar door operations in regional tourist areas.  Governments of all political persuasion have supported the concept of the rebate scheme.  It has by any standards been a resounding success as evidenced by the fact that from its inception the Hunter Valley has grown from a country backwater to a tourism centre drawing 3 million visitors per year.

The termination decision by the current government therefore comes as a complete shock especially as it was made without warning and with no consultation with the industry.  It will seriously impact on the ability of wine companies to maintain their current level of cellar door service and two companies have already indicated that they will consider closing their cellar doors.

The decision now makes NSW the worst state in Australia for investment in wine tourism and contradicts claims by Tourism Minister George Souris in a recent Media Release that the NSW Government planned to double overnight tourism expenditure in NSW by 2020.  The current decision will clearly damage Tourism in the Hunter Valley as the major wine companies will be forced to shed staff and terminate any further capital and promotional expenditure to offset the increased taxes.  The decision also contradicts the findings of the Visitor Economy Task Force Report commissioned by Minister Souris’ own department which states that the wine industry is a key pillar in their aim to double Tourism expenditure in NSW.

The expenditure savings to the Government will be miniscule in the context of its overall budget and will be far outweighed by the damage caused to the Tourist industry and to regional employment.

The fact that such a commercially backward decision can be made without any consultation with the industry is difficult to explain.  It is our understanding that the decision was made on the basis of very poor advice by the relevant Government Departments to Ministers Souris and Stoner.  Those Ministers have now been provided with very detailed information about the consequential effects of the decision and we are hopeful that political and commercial sanity will eventually prevail and the decision will be reversed.

We urge all people to support our efforts to overturn this termination decision by contacting their local State Member or either one of the two following Ministerial Departments at the email addresses below.

Minister George Souris -                                               office@souris.minister.nsw.gov.au

Minister and Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner -         office@deputypremier.nsw.gov.au

From the Chairman, John Davis
Pepper Tree Wines

We understand this a busy time of year for all and appreciate your support. We have created a response that you can copy and paste into an email which can be forwarded directly to both Minister ,George Souris and Minister and Deputy Premier, Andrew Stoner .  Please copy the above email addresses into a new email or click on the above email addresses and paste response into the body of the email.

RESPONSE  (to copy and paste)

Minister and Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner

CC/- Minister George Souris

I write with regards to the Cellar Door Subsidy Scheme / WET rebate, and in particular, your decision to terminate cellar door WET rebate within NSW. This decision will have a catastrophic impact on not only the wineries in the Hunter Valley, but also the local economy and tourism in the region as a whole.

As a member of several vineyards in the Hunter Valley we can say we have thoroughly enjoyed the Hunter Valley Wine Industry experience on multiple occasions. I can clearly see how this will have a hugely debilitating effect on wineries in this area. I personally support any efforts by local businesses to overturn this decision.

I object to the Government making these decisions and passing them through NSW Parliament without warning or direct consultation with the industry. Proper research and consultation with those in the industry needs to be conducted before making these decisions, which can have a devastating impact on so many levels. Clearly this is an act that was aimed at avoiding debate and was made on the basis of very poor advice by the relevant Government Departments.

The current decision will clearly damage tourism in the Hunter Valley as the major wine companies will be forced to shed staff and terminate any further capital and promotional expenditure to offset the increased taxes. There cannot be any substantial savings or revenue raised towards the state government which would be worth putting one of the most successful tourism and cultural industries in the state in jeopardy. 

In addition to the many events held in the Hunter Valley, the tourism numbers alone which are generated are proof enough of how the region is completely individual to our national tourism identity, and needs to be supported, especially by State Government bodies.

Yours Sincerely,