In 2022-23, the South Australian grape and wine industry continued to operate amidst challenges around grape and wine oversupply, high pest and disease pressure, rising cost pressures, River Murray flooding events and continuing fruit fly outbreaks in the Riverland.
Within this operating environment, Vinehealth Australia worked tirelessly to continue its sharp focus on protecting the South Australian grape and wine industry from pest and disease incursions impacting long term sustainability.
As presented in our 2022-23 Annual Report, which has recently been tabled in Parliament, Vinehealth Australia’s key achievements in 2022-23 included:
- Leading South Australia’s response to the Grapevine Red Blotch virus detection in Australia, including surveillance, tracing, and communication activities. Vinehealth Australia’s unique foundational Register of South Australian grapevine plantings was key to determining the surveillance plan by enabling rapid identification of vine plantings of interest. Activities were pivotal in driving and shaping the national wine industry’s response to this incursion, and learnings for future responses. Response activities continue into 2023-24.
- Provision to PIRSA of three pieces of comprehensive and considered advice, post our evaluation of risk to the state of phylloxera introduction due to proposed rezoning of Mornington Peninsula from a Phylloxera Risk Zone to a Phylloxera Exclusion Zone. This advice was founded on protecting South Australia’s vineyards and took a scientific, risk-based, practical approach. Read about that here.
- Investment in significant capability and capacity in supporting PIRSA’s fruit fly response in South Australia’s Riverland. This involved reviewing and contributing to all industry communications, direct contact with vineyard owners and wineries to communicate timely changes to fruit fly boundaries, movement requirements and associated compliance knowledge.
As required under our governing Act, significant time and resources continue to be devoted to maintaining foundational information (including maps of vineyards and planting, location, and owner information) in our core asset – the Register. The Register was again deployed for biosecurity response activities, specifically relating to fruit fly and Grapevine Red Blotch virus. It also provided key foundational information to support government activities, including River Murray flood response, prescribed burns and water allocation planning.
With our levy continuing at the same rate as set in 1996 and business costs continuing to rise, our ability to operate was again considerably constrained, and another deficit financial budget was realised. To that end, the Vinehealth Australia Board decided that a conversation with industry about funding could not wait.
With the endorsement of the Hon. Clare Scriven MLC, an extensive 11-week industry consultation was undertaken on proposed new rules and rates. Receiving 10 letters of support and testimonials from wine industry organisations highlighted Vinehealth Australia’s strong partnerships with industry and demonstrated need for Vinehealth’s activities.
Feedback from industry guided refined recommendations to the Minister around a proposed funding solution, considering the current operating landscape for the wine industry. A funding solution was subsequently endorsed in June 2023, representing a landmark change for the organisation. Vinehealth Australia thanks and commends the Minister and PIRSA for their courage in demonstrating the value of grapevine biosecurity and the South Australian grape and wine industry to the state.
Looking forward to 2023-24, increased funding security for Vinehealth Australia will enable two key pieces of work to begin, improving the capability and capacity of the organisation to prepare for and respond to pest incursions. These include the transformation of our key asset, our Register into a Digital Biosecurity Platform, and completing the new South Australian Phylloxera Response Plan and associated extension activities.