Premier in Print

THE Premiers and Chief Ministers from around Australia will be meeting in Sydney on 23 July for a Leaders’ Forum.

Over recent years these occasional meetings have been an excellent opportunity for the Premiers and Chief Ministers to co-ordinate initiatives and seek a consensus for negotiations with the Federal Government.

Health and national competition policy will be among the topics discussed at this forum.

THE Western Australian Govern-ment is continuing to support the case for our small, local wineries in their battle against proposed changes to wine taxes.

There was considerable discussion about this at the Liberal Party’s Federal Council recently with many recognising that the proposed Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) unfairly discriminates against small wine producers.

The proposed changes mean that a value-based tax, as well as a GST, will replace the current wholesale sales tax on wine. As a result, winemakers who are producing relatively small quantities of premium wines will pay a disproportionate amount of tax compared with someone who is producing low-value bulk wines, such as for the cask wine market.

This will have a particular impact in Western Australia where so much of our wine is produced by small, boutique-style wineries.

Unfortunately, our previous proposal, that wine be taxed on the basis of its alcohol content rather than its value, was rejected when the Senate looked at the draft tax reform legislation.

We can now support the call for small wineries – which produce about three per cent of Australia’s wine – to be granted an exemption from the WET.

WHILE on the subject of tax, the final report of the Ralph Review of Business Taxation is due out at the end of July. This has potentially substantial implications for industry in this state.

We will be continuing to oppose any moves to fund a reduction in the company tax rate by scrapping the accelerated depreciation allowances that are so essential to getting new resource projects off the ground.

THE National Greenhouse Strategy is another issue with growing significance for Western Australia. The State Greenhouse Council is advising the Government on the implications of the Kyoto Protocol which limits Australia’s greenhouse emissions to 108 per cent of the 1990 level.

The development of the strategy has some serious implications for Western Australia and, indeed, the whole Australian economy.

This includes recognition that our State has a large number of major new energy projects planned for the next decade. In considering the abatement of greenhouse gas we need to ensure the competitiveness of our industry, compared with other countries, is not undermined.

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