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Wolf Blass and WFA to fight WET rebate

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Happy birthday to Wolfgang Blass AM, who turns 80 this year. On Wednesday this week, Blass is in Sydney hosting a masterclass and a celebratory dinner. Dress code for the dinner is, of course, bow tie.

Wolf’s latest initiative is to form a strategic partnership between the Wolf Blass Foundation and the Winemakers Federation of Australia to lobby for an end to the WET rebate for New Zealand wineries. At present New Zealand wineries exporting to Australia can claim the lucrative WET (wine equalization tax) rebate, just like Australian wineries, but momentum is building for it to be axed. WFA claims the rebate disadvantages local winemakers.

 “Thanks to the generosity of Wolf and his foundation, the WFA will commission critical analysis to strengthen the case to government to remove the eligibility of New Zealanders and other foreigners from claiming the WET rebate,” WFA chief executive Paul Evans says.

“Currently, foreign entities can access a rebate of up to $500,000 for wine sold in Australia in direct competition to local producers.

“This is completely at odds with the original intent of the rebate, which was introduced to support small and medium-sized Australian producers and the regional communities they operate in.”

Wolf Blass agrees that the rules must be changed.

“I am very pleased that the trustees of the foundation have agreed to support the federation’s important work in this area,” he said.

“There is no justification for extending the rebate to New Zealanders and other foreign producers and the foundation’s support will enable the federation to undertake the further analysis we need to strengthen the case with politicians in Canberra,” Blass said.

A WFA statement said: “The rebate eligibility has been utilised predominantly by New Zealand producers since 2005 to help take share and margin from local winemakers.

“It is estimated the volume of New Zealand wine imported into Australia has since grown by over 139%.”

*The Wolf Blass Foundation was established in 1994. It has supported the wine industry since then with over $1 million in distributions across a broad range of industry activities to support research and development, wine education, wine and health and policy development.

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