There is concern across the Tasmanian wine industry that Tasmanian Forestry Agreement (TFA) funding will be used to push for investment in new "supply driven" growth - in the form of significant new vineyard plantings - leading to the quadrupling of the industry over the next 10 years.
"The release today by Wine Tasmania of their "Tasmanian Wine Sector Strategy" raises further concerns on a lack of consultation and agreement with the wine industry representative body on this important and controversial issue," said Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, whose family owns a small vineyard in the Tamar Valley.
"Whether it is wine industry expansion or funding for other Tasmanian economic opportunities, it is imperative that we get the once in a generation TFA funding opportunity right.
" I have spoken to a number of hard working small and big Tasmanian wine producers and grape growers who are concerned political or bureaucratic imperatives may muddy the waters when it comes to appropriate expansion.
"The Greens support the industry model of demand driven expansion, based on sound commercial opportunities and funding for collaborative marketing , and we would oppose funding for a "supply driven" model based on the advice of consultants not represented in the existing industry."
Holm Oak winemaker Rebecca Duffy shares similar concerns.
" We have worked hard in the past 7 years to double the size of our vineyard, significantly increase production and fully value add our business, and I have real concerns with the Government directing the future growth of our industry, with little or no public consultation with wine producers," said Mrs. Duffy.
"The risk of an over-supply of grapes leading to lower grape and wine prices could significantly damage our brand value," she concluded.
"The value and significance of the Tasmanian industry lies in its boutique status, brand and the hard work of its members. We don't want to jeopardise this," Senator Whish-Wilson continued.
"Being part of a family wine business in Tasmania I appreciate the concerns that have been expressed to me and I will work to represent the best interests of the Tasmanian wine industry.
"I'm calling on the Tasmanian Government to follow the advice of Wine Tasmania in any future expansion plans or related funding," he concluded.
Senator Whish-Wilson asked the Federal Government questions in the Senate yesterday relating to processes surrounding the TFA's $ 100m Economic Diversification funding. The Senator later raised concerns about community perceptions on lack of transparency, equitable access to funding and the strategic imperatives driving the so-called "rush" to funding.