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Sutton Speech: Wine Bill second reading


Sutton Speech: Wine Bill second reading Parliament

Jim Sutton Speech: Mr Speaker, I move that the Wine Bill now be read a second time.

The purposes of the bill have always been quite straightforward.

It is to have legislation which protects the interests of consumers and the reputation of New Zealand wine.

At the same time, it has to be sufficiently robust and enforceable to protect producers from the protectionist technical barriers which are a reality of life in the international trading environment of the 21st century.

Mr Speaker, the Wine Bill was referred to the Primary Production Committee on 17 October 2002. Since then the Committee has undertaken a great deal of work on the Bill.

In response to the urgent need to enhance our regulatory export regime, the Committee divided Part Five out of the Wine Bill and reported it back as the Wine Makers Amendment Bill in early December last year. That Bill was enacted in March 2003. It was aimed at maintaining access to overseas markets, particularly the European Union, in the period leading up to passage and commencement of this Bill.

Once the Committee had divided out Part Five of the Bill, it sought submissions on the remainder of the Bill. Submissions were received from last December through to May this year.

Many submissions reflected an old mindset towards the regulation of the making and export of wine. They concentrated on seeking to reduce compliance costs and minimise regulatory powers. The Committee had the difficult task of reconciling the industry¡¦s need for a legally enforceable regime, primarily around standards and exports, with submitters¡¦ requests for a narrow regulatory regime.

Submissions focussed on five key issues, these being:

„h The definition of wine; „h Limiting the types of standards that can be set under the Bill; „h Simplification of wine standards management plans; „h Removal of compliance orders; and „h Improving consultation requirements.

Submissions sought clarification of the definition of wine in the Bill. In particular they sought definitions that are consistent with the definitions of these types of wine in New Zealand food standards. This makes sense, as does providing a means of updating those definitions to maintain consistency with definitions in the food standards. I support the Committee¡¦s recommendation to insert new definitions and an ability to change them by Order-in-Council to reflect any changes in the definitions in the New Zealand food standards.

Winemakers were concerned that the Bill appeared to allow a whole raft of wine standards to be set. This is not what was intended. Instead, it was intended to enable some wine standards to cross-reference relevant food standards so as to create a single regime for both wine standards and relevant food standards.

The Committee proposed a clearer means of achieving the outcome of a single regime for wine standards and relevant food standards. It recommends two key amendments to the Bill.

The first is to amend clause 14(2)(e)(i) to clearly and directly reference New Zealand food standards. This has the effect of making wine standards management plans, which are the key compliance regime within the Bill, also about compliance with relevant food standards.

The second amendment is consequential in nature and removes clauses 33(2)(a) and 33(2)(c) to (i), which effectively repeat the scope of New Zealand food standards.

The third key issue, simplification of wine standards management plans, arose from winemakers thinking that their wine standards management plans would be markedly different from each other and would need to be highly complex and therefore increase compliance costs. These plans are the key compliance regime for wine standards, relevant food standards, and relevant export requirements.

Mr Speaker, I want to allay this concern. Wine standards management plans are expected to be comparatively simple documents. The industry should be able to develop templates, as provided for in the Bill, which would allow individual wineries to apply those templates to their businesses.

The Committee has taken this on-board and has recommended no amendments in respect of wine standards management plans beyond technical amendments and the amendment to clause 14(2)(e)(i) that I referred to earlier. I support this decision.

The fourth key issue was removal of the clauses relating to compliance orders. Submitters sought removal of these clauses as they saw them as bureaucratic and unnecessary, given other enforcement powers in the Bill. These other powers are, however, significantly more severe than compliance orders. They include prosecutions, suspension of winemaking operations, and deregistration of wine standards management plans. As the Bill requires all winemakers to have a registered wine standards management plan, deregistration would preclude the winemaker from being able to legally make wine for sale in New Zealand ¡V a potentially disastrous state of affairs.

Industry sought strict enforcement, not the safer approach which compliance orders would give. Compliance orders are a useful enforcement tool but removing them would not undermine the integrity of the Bill. I therefore accept the Committee¡¦s recommendation that the clauses providing for and relating to compliance orders be removed from the Bill.

Finally, submissions sought amendments to the Bill to highlight and extend the nature of consultation under the Bill. Submissions saw strengthened consultation requirements as a solution to their concerns about the nature and extent of regulations and Director-General notices that could be made under the Bill.

Submitters sought three key amendments in this respect. First, they sought a new objective recognising consultation as an aid to fostering the efficiency and growth of the industry. Second, they sought application of consultation requirements (clause 128) to the making of all regulations under the Bill. Thirdly, they sought insertion of a principle of consultation at the front of the Bill, or alternatively shifting clause 128 to the front of the Bill.

The Committee has recommended amending the Bill in respect of the first two of these proposals, and against inserting a new principle of consultation clause, or shifting clause 128. I agree with this view. Making promotion of consultation with the industry on regulation of the industry an objective of the Bill is a key amendment proposed by the Committee. It highlights the need for the New Zealand Food Safety Authority to work with the wine industry to achieve a successful, win-win outcome for both the Government and the industry.

I would like to thank the Primary Production Committee for considering the Wine Bill so thoroughly and for reporting it back on Tuesday 19 August with amendments that both improve and clarify the Bill.

I commend this Bill to the House.


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