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Wine Bill 3rd reading speech

Wine Bill 3rd reading speech

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

This Bill was introduced into the House on 14 October 2002, and had its first reading on 17 October 2002. The Primary Production Committee considered the Bill and reported the Bill back to Parliament on Tuesday 19 August 2003. The Bill has now had its second reading and Committee stage.

This Bill was sought by the wine industry. The industry wanted enforceable law that provided for wine standards in relation to the identity, label integrity, and safety of New Zealand wine and enforcement of those standards. The Bill provides this.

The industry also became acutely aware of the need for a solid legislative base given its experience with European Union wine laws. This House responded to an urgent need for an interim export regime by enacting the Wine Makers Act Amendment Act 2003 pending passage and commencement of this Bill.

The wine industry, particularly the grape wine industry, is expanding rapidly. The producing vine area is up 127 percent over five years ago, and in the year to 30 June 2003 the wine industry exported 123 percent more than it did five years ago, bringing in $281 million in export earnings. More importantly, the export statistics demonstrate the industry's commitment to quality, in that the average export value per litre has increased by 119 percent over the last five years.

Mr Speaker, I am aware that the Bill caused considerable angst in the wine industry. I am reminded of the hue and cry raised by the dairy industry in response to dairy industry regulations in the late nineteenth century. The Government had to act to protect a rapidly growing dairy export sector. The dairy industry was then also concerned about compliance costs, inspectors, and the regulatory regime. That regulation though turned out to be essential for the reputation and growth of the dairy industry.

I am not surprised, and do sympathise, with the reaction of the wine industry to similar developments.

Nevertheless, if the industry wants to succeed in a very competitive international market it needs appropriate regulation.

Mr Speaker, the Bill delivers exactly what the wine industry sought from the Government and needs to support its rapid growth. It provides a legally enforceable regime that fills the regulatory holes that exist under current legislation relating to the making and export of wine.

The Bill applies to wine made from grapes, kiwifruit, fruit, honey and other commodities. It provides a single regulatory regime for the making and export of wine. The Bill applies the Government's regulatory model for food to the making of wine by providing a legally enforceable regime for wine standards and relevant food standards. These are the standards the industry sought from the Government.

The Bill is not prescriptive in nature, but is enabling.

The Bill requires winemakers to show how they will minimise and manage their risks to compliance with food and wine standards, but gives them flexibility to choose the means of achieving this. These plans, wine standards management plans, are based on food safety programmes, but are mandatory.

Mr Speaker, the industry faces a world-wide glut in wine, and the New Zealand grape wine industry is forecasting significant growth in the volume of wine produced here. Such competition only increases the industry's need for strong legislation to facilitate exports. The Government has provided the platform for industry growth. It does not tell winemakers how to make wine. It simply ensures that they have the base to grow exports.

The Bill makes consultation a central focus. This is up front in the Bill as one of the objects in clause 3. This will force the regulator and the wine industry to work together for win-win outcomes under the Act. This, in turn, should help ensure that the Bill better facilitates the industry's continued ability to compete on the international stage.

Mr Speaker, I appreciate that this Bill is a dramatic shift for the wine industry.

I appreciate it will take winemakers time to become familiar with what the Bill does and how it works. This is one reason why the Bill provides for transition periods and, during those times, and thereafter, the Bill requires the regulator to consult winemakers and their industry bodies on regulation of the industry.

I also note that many of the elements that will make up wine standards management plans are already in industry codes of practice. These will require only minor modification to fit within the new regulatory framework.

Mr Speaker, this Bill deserves the support of this House, as it delivers appropriate legislation to govern the making and export of wine. The Parliament has delivered what the wine industry sought from it.

I commend this Bill to the House.

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