Standing up for Canberra

We need to talk about the lack of diversity in our wine industry

I welcome this opportunity to speak on the Australian Grape and Wine Authority Amendment (Wine Australia) Bill 2017. The bill will enable the authority to implement all program activities under the wine support package; it will enable the authority to administer grant programs for wine, including the cellar door grant; and it will change the name of the authority from the Australian Grape and Wine Authority to Wine Australia.

I've got a significant interest in wine, not just because I like to imbibe it but also because my sister is an internationally renowned winemaker—she is Australia's first female Master of Wine—and there are fabulous wineries in the capital region around Canberra. Now, it's a relatively young wine industry. While South Australia and Victoria were already established as wine regions by the end of the 1800s, Canberra had a few small, fairly unremarkable vineyards planted near Yass. Our fortunes changed when we had the great honour of our CSIRO scientists and other academics getting involved in the local wine industry. Dr Edgar Riek, a pioneer of the region, planted vineyards in 1971. He had a distinguished academic background, as many of the founders in the capital
region wine district had, and he saw the potential in the region as a premium wine-growing area. He started the Canberra District Vignerons Association and instigated the National Wine Show, which is arguably the country's most important wine show.

After Riek's initial plantings at Lake George in the early 1970s, others soon followed. International awardwinning scientist John Kirk established Clonakilla in 1971. Ken and Judith Helm started their vineyard and winery in 1973—the famous Helm Wines. Like Kirk and Edgar Riek, Ken Helm has been instrumental in putting Canberra district, capital region, wines on the map with the cool-climate international riesling challenge that he conducts every year. It draws hundreds of people from all around the country and also from all around the world to the Canberra region. It is a very prestigious competition. Ken Helm has been the driving force behind it. We have a cool climate here, and we specialise in cool-climate wines. This is why Ken Helm has been a major driver of the riesling challenge and cool-climate wines more generally.

In 1978, Sue and Dave Carpenter planted vines at Lark Hill winery at Bungendore. A decade later, Mount Majura's first vines were planted. In 1997, inspired by Riek, Jim Lumbers established Lerida Estate at Lake George, adjacent to Riek's original vineyard. There are many other winemakers in Canberra who are now producing wines. Bryan Martin, who was an assistant winemaker at Clonakilla estate, has used his expertise to establish Ravensworth at Mawson. Microwinery Eden Road shot to fame in 2009, winning the Jimmy Watson Trophy for its 2008 Hilltops Shiraz and the Best New Winery at the inaugural Sydney Morning Herald's Good Wine awards in 2010. Guiding Eden Road wines is winemaker Nick Spencer. As many here in the chamber would know, Nobel Laureate and Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University—none other than Professor Brian Schmidt—has established his vineyard, Maipenrai, at Sutton. His pinot noir has wowed the fans. Mount Majura was established in 1991 by winemaker Frank van de Loo, who has also been producing award-winning wines, particularly chardonnays, ever since.

As I said, Canberra is well-known now around the world for producing internationally-renowned, award-winning wines—award-winning cool-climate wines. We are very proud of the winemakers here in the capital region. It is yet another reason to come to Canberra. As we heard this week, there are many reasons to come to Canberra. I've always known that Canberra is the best place in the world. I've always known that it is the best place in Australia to visit. We had that confirmed this week with Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2018 nominating Canberra as one of the top three cities to visit in the world in 2018. I am not saying that it should be limited to 2018. I am saying: come on down to Canberra any year, because it is the best place in the world. Unfortunately, we came behind Seville and Detroit. In my view, we should have been ranked No. 1. That said, this ranking is the highest that has ever been achieved by an Australian city.

Lonely Planet's travel experts compile the top cities list based on strict criteria including topicality, excitement, X factor and unique experiences. For Canberra, next year is such a unique and exciting year, and the events our city will host include the 100th anniversary of the World War I Armistice, at the Australian War Memorial, which will be an extraordinary commemoration; and the first cricket test match at Manuka Oval. Both of these venues are in my wonderful electorate of Canberra. 

We're claiming to be one of the coolest little capitals, and we are the coolest little capital because we offer a rich history; amazing world-leading design elements that are based on the principles of democracy, transparency and openness; culture and entertainment; world-class national institutions; and something for every type of traveller. The Lonely Planet website rightfully states that Canberra is 'criminally overlooked' and 'packs a punch' for the small city that we are.

Canberra boasts expansive open spaces, as we know, with those huge, gorgeous skies that are blue and beautiful even when it is about minus 10 degrees. Unlike other cities where it's grey in summer and grey in winter, it is blue sky for a lot of the time here in Canberra, even in winter. So we have these beautiful open spaces overlooking the Brindabellas, the ranges that you can see from every corner of our wonderful city. We have popular attractions, including this very building—this beautiful, iconic, Giurgola-designed building. We've got Questacon, Floriade and the Old Bus Depot Markets. The list goes on and on.

Countless new and modern places to eat and drink have followed the revitalisation of areas like Braddon and New Acton, and these suburbs add to the establishment of our hip and contemporary style. As we are talking about imbibing, I just want to mention we also are home to craft beers BentSpoke, Pact, Capital and Tortured Gum; craft beer taverns and breweries, as in the Wig & Pen; and craft gins and spirits, with Underground Spirits and the Canberra Distillery. Most of these breweries and distilleries are in my electorate. I want to give a shoutout to BentSpoke, who recently made it into the top 10 of GABS Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers. There is also Zierholz, in Fyshwick.

This announcement by Lonely Planet adds further hopes of connecting Canberra internationally and encouraging tourists to visit Canberra, our nation's capital, which has so much to offer. Like all Canberrans, I cannot wait to welcome the world to our fabulous nation's capital.

Finally, as I mentioned earlier in my speech, my sister Meg is Australia's first female Master of Wine, an extraordinary achievement and one of which I am very proud. She's a winemaker who has travelled all around the world for the last 25 years, since she graduated with her degree from Roseworthy. She brought to my attention, when she was here just recently, the significant challenges that women in the wine industry still face. We know that women are increasingly moving into the wine industry. Women make up 50 per cent of winemaking and viticulture graduates, but women comprise only 10 per cent of the Australian wine industry workforce. So, even though 50 per cent of the graduates in this area are women, women are only 10 per cent of the workforce. With Australian wine exports now topping $2.3 billion, at June 2017, and the wine industry providing a major source of employment, particularly in regional and rural Australia, this is simply unacceptable. 

A survey of women in the wine industry by wine identity Jane Thomson last year revealed that 42 per cent of women knew or believed they were being paid less than their male counterparts. Two-thirds of women replied that they'd experienced sexist behaviour in the workplace, and one in four women had endured unfair treatment in regards to pregnancy, sick children or maternity leave. A quarter of the respondents believed that they did not have equal career opportunities in their workplaces. I know that my sister Meg and a number of women are getting together now to bring these shocking statistics to people's attention—because they are quite shocking, given the fact that women make up 50 per cent of graduates in this area but only 10 per cent of the actual wine industry workforce.

The wine industry has to change. That starts with shining a light on the lack of diversity. That is why this survey Jane Thomson has conducted is especially useful. We need to be asking the questions: why is female representation so much better overseas than in Australia? Why the lack of national and international recognition and exposure of Australian female winemakers? Why is there no critical mass of women on wine-judging panels? Why the dramatic attrition rate? We are talking about this extraordinary attrition rate just from graduation. Why the limited career paths? Why the perception that winemaking is a male industry?

We need to institute change, and that's why I welcome the Australian Women in Wine Awards that were held last month at Australia House in London. I commend the women who took out those awards. I'll just quickly run through a few of them. Winemaker of the Year was Virginia Willcock from Vasse Felix. Viticulturist of the Year was Jennifer Doyle from Jansz. Owner/Operator of the Year was Sarah Collingwood from Four Winds Vineyard. Workplace Champion of Change was Professor Eileen Scott from the University of Adelaide. CellarDoor Person of the Year was Jasmine Morgan from Caudo Vineyards. Researcher of the Year was Dr Christine Bottcher from CSIRO. Marketer of the Year was Ebony Tinkler from Usher Tinkler Wines.

These awards are a great way of shining a light on the achievements of female winemakers from Australia and on the fact that so many women are going overseas. We have got a huge brain drain in female talent here, because the opportunities and exposure just aren't here. The acknowledgement is just not here. That is why it is important that the Australian Women in Wine Awards are highlighting these achievements and focusing attention on the issue of the lack of diversity in this industry and the fact that we have so many women leaving Australia to go and work overseas. My sister was a classic example. As I said, she spent most of her early career working in France, Germany, South America, the UK and Eastern Europe. That was because the opportunities, particularly as a young graduate, just weren't there. She became what is known as a 'flying winemaker'. These awards are
fantastic. They are acknowledging the achievements of Australian winemakers. It is unfortunate they actually have to take place overseas.

But what is happening at the domestic level also needs to be acknowledged. My sister has joined with a number of women from the Yarra Valley wine area to set up Yarra Valley Wine Women. Again, it is designed to highlight the achievements of women in this area. We've got more than 150 wine brands, 85 cellar doors and 65 wine production facilities. Within this pool is a group of women winemakers challenging the statistics of the industry average. Fortunately, there seems to be a critical mass there. This group manage 12 per cent of those 150 wine brands and have a collective 200 years experience in the industry. I say to those in the wine industry: I am watching, I will be calling this out and I will be shining a light on this issue. This is not the last conversation I will be having about the lack of diversity in the Australian wine industry.

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