Asia Pacific Whiskies and Spirits Conference

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Leader of the Opposition) (15:24): I rise today to speak to a matter of importance, that being the South Australian whisky industry. Last week, as some people may have been aware, and others maybe not, Adelaide hosted the first ever Asia Pacific Whiskies and Spirits Conference. It was a four-day event with the Icons of Whisky awards on the Thursday night; the actual conference on Thursday and Friday; and then the event known as Whisky Live on Friday night and Saturday.

The history of this event goes back several years when I met two gentlemen, Mr Doug Van Tienan and Mr Ken Bromfield, who put on the Whisky Live event and thought we should try to do more in South Australia. In August 2015, I think, with their support, I convened a forum in Parliament House about the barriers to entering the distilled spirits industry. At the time, Mr Tom Richardson from InDaily—and it is maybe not the word I would use—took the whisky out of the idea and thought it was just a little bit of a joke.

Interestingly, last week's conference was the first time the Whiskies and Spirits Conference has ever been held in the Southern Hemisphere. It often alternates between New York and London so we are very lucky to have had it here in this last week. We had the forum in 2015, came up with an issues paper, and there are a range of issues around tariffs, regulation and planning, and a whole range of issues that were probably beyond the scope of the group that met that day. Mr Bromfield and Mr Van Tienan put in a bid to come to South Australia. They were wanting to go to Perth or Sydney and I said, 'No, please come to South Australia.' Luckily the Adelaide Convention Bureau supported that bid and we were awarded the conference.

In May 2016, we had another gathering at the Adelaide Convention Centre and brought in industry people from across Australia to talk about the topics that the industry would like to cover in this convention. If we were going to have the first ever type of this convention in Australia, we should have the industry involved in what topics they would like covered. They set out to seek the world's best guest speakers, and they came up with a world-class international line-up of speakers from Australia, Germany, Japan and the USA, and they covered areas such as production, marketing, packaging, and the type of glass you use for these products.

Interestingly, while I think the numbers were probably somewhat less than initially anticipated by the Adelaide Convention Bureau and the organisers, more people attended this first conference in Adelaide than the first one in London or the first one in New York, so we have set a bit of a record. Also during the week, it was announced that the Distilled Beverages Institute was registered here and will operate here, although very much as a virtual institute when it comes to training, but they will be supporting the first ever distilled industries-based MBA for the industry, and I think it is something to be proud of that we will have a business degree behind this industry.

It is interesting that we have involved the university in all of these forums and discussions, and the University of Adelaide Waite Campus has released preliminary plans for an extension of their research winery and in that will be a still house, so we have the university wanting to be involved and supporting this particular industry. People might say that Scotland is the home of whisky, and Tasmania is definitely the home of Australian whisky, is there room for us in an international market?

Only a few days ago, it was said that despite all of Tasmania's production, which, as I said, is the home of Australian whisky, one large distillery in Scotland can produce that volume in one day. So, there is a huge opportunity to grow this sector in South Australia, not only whisky but spirits like gin and vodka, and there is even some interest in growing the agave cactus in South Australia to produce tequila.

At the centre of the awards night, Mr Gordon Broderick, from DSICA (Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia), a wonderful gentleman, was inducted into the Whisky Hall of Fame, which I think was a very fitting reward for a lifetime, some 40 years, commitment to the spirits industry. The awards were of interest too. These are awards that will go to the world championship in London, and there are some that I would particularly like to mention: best retailer outlet, Hurley Cellars, which we are all familiar with in Australia; and the best retailer, the duty free store at the Adelaide Airport, which is the Australia-wide winner. The really important one is brand innovator of the year, which is the McLaren Vale Distillery, which will go to the world awards in London. I hope this goes some way towards establishing, over time, South Australia as a centre of excellence for the spirits industry.

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