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Government To Introduce New Wine Industry Bill

7 December 2001

A new bill updating and streamlining the arrangements governing the wine industry is to be introduced next year, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said the bill would apply to all grape and non-grape wine produced, processed, and traded in New Zealand. That included exported wine.

The bill sets a framework for the production and processing of wine, provides controls for export assurances, and sets out mechanisms for levy-gathering to fund industry-good activities.

Mr Sutton said New Zealand agricultural exports, especially wine, had an excellent reputation internationally, and the new bill would help maintain that reputation.

He said an important part of the bill was the requirements for assurance and certification on food safety and truth in labelling grounds. The industry had been working on these issues as well, he said.

It is vital that consumers of our products both locally and internationally are totally confident that what they are eating or drinking is not only safe, but what they want to consume.

The bill will enable standard to be set and wineries will need to show, through documented systems and procedures, how they comply with these standards. These documented systems and procedures will be pulled together into what we are currently calling a Wine Standards Management Plan. Wineries will be audited by independent auditors to demonstrate their compliance.

Mr Sutton said he hoped the bill, which would be drafted shortly, would please the wine industry.

This bill has the backing of the industry, which supported the Government's move to streamline legislative arrangements during consultation carried out last year.

He said the wine industry had thrived since it moved from a highly protected regime in the 1970s to a more liberal environment now. "Laws relating to the consumption and sale of alcohol have been progressively liberalised as well.

"Unfortunately, we've now ended up with an unwieldy web of acts governing different parts of the wine industry. To resolve this, I initiated a review of wine law, that has resulted in this comprehensive bill."

Mr Sutton said that because of the lack of space in the legislative timetable, the new wine bill would not be able to be introduced till early next year.

However, this bill is a priority for me. I would like it to come into force from January 2003 and I will be working hard to convince my colleagues that it be dealt with as soon as possible.

Ends


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