HUNTER TOURISM BODY SLAMS SENATE INQUIRY

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The Hunter Valley’s tourism body has slammed a Senate Inquiry into the wine industry, after it snubbed the region.

Chairman of the Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association, the Hon George Souris, has called on the federal government to reject the report and start again, labelling it unbalanced and only considering the interests of a “privileged few who have the ear of certain Senators”.

The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee had been exploring issues in the industry, including the need to reform tax arrangements, but Mr Souris says no hearings or visits were scheduled for the Hunter Valley.

“The Senate Inquiry’s outcomes are biased towards the big interstate producers, ignore the Hunter Valley and would lead to large scale contraction of our industry, much lower employment levels and tourism outcomes,” Mr Souris said.

Recommendations of the inquiry include the abolition of a $500,000 rebate winemakers can claim, on the wine equalisation tax (WET) they pay.