The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has recently launched an Independent Review of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct.
The Food and Grocery Code does not currently cover wine however one of the questions asked by the reviewer is whether the Code should be extended to cover other aspects of the food and grocery supply chain and whether some or all alcoholic beverages should be included in the scope of the Code. Inclusion of wine under the Code could provide some protection for wine producers against issues that may arise in the market due to power imbalances. We are keen for you to share your views. All correspondence will be treated confidentially and any industry position will not be referenced to individual businesses’ opinions.
The Code is currently a prescribed voluntary Code that regulates business conduct, increases transparency and provides a process for raising and investigating complaints and resolving disputes. Although it is currently confined in scope to food and groceries, some of the perceived problems may sound familiar. For example, critics of the voluntary Food and Grocery Code argue that suppliers ‘are too frightened to raise a dispute with a supermarket for fear of their product being removed from the supermarket’s shelves’. With that in mind, one of the key recommendation under review is to make the Code mandatory. This could potentially provide the ACCC infringement notice powers along with greater ability to enforce compliance through civil pecuniary penalties. However the discussion paper also raises the issue that even under a mandatory Code, ‘enforcement can take years before the courts, by which time the supplier will have gone broke’. There is no silver bullet however industry Codes, whether the be voluntary or mandatory, can go some way towards improving trading practices. Those that are addressed in the Food and Grocery Code include reasonable payment terms as well as the need for transparent processes for accepting/refusing price increases, delisting and allocation of shelf space.
Australian Grape and Wine encourages wine producers to read the consultation paper and consider making their own submission or contacting us with an opinion.
The Government has recently released a Draft framework for delivering 450 GL of additional environmental water under the Basin Plan. The consultation seeks input into leasing Opportunities, impacts on communities and the proposed Sustainable Communities Program. The latter seeks to ‘mitigate unavoidable socio‑economic impacts from voluntary water purchases.’
The Water Amendment (Restoring Our Rivers) Act that commenced late last year claims to offer more options, more time and more funding to deliver the Basin Plan in full. Additional options for delivery of the plan include voluntary water purchase (buy-backs). The Australian Government has committed to ensuring that their approach enhances environmental outcomes, minimises socio‑economic impacts and achieves value for money. In the case of water purchases towards the 450GL recovery, there is a commitment to providing funding for community adjustment assistance. There is a recognition of the keen desire from peak bodies to work closely with the Government to design appropriate community adjustment assistance programs that minimise socio‑economic impacts.
A link to the draft framework is here: Restoring Our Rivers: Delivering the Basin Plan 2012 Draft framework for delivering the 450 GL of additional environmental water (storage.googleapis.com)