The Australian government has stepped back from getting involved in the country's wine glut crisis.

At a summit of growers and winemakers in Melbourne today (9 June), called to deal with the emergency situation, Australia's Agriculture Minister said that dealing with the problem was more the responsibility of the wine industry than the government.

"Key responsibility for charting the way forward rests with the industry itself," Pete McGauran told the assembled wine companies.

"There is also a problem taking forward a large government assistance package to cabinet when the industry in question has a strong history of growth and indeed is forecast to grow further," McGauran added.

Trade association Winemakers' Federation of Australia earlier this week lobbied for support for a A$60m (US$44.7m) revival package, to be paid to growers to put parts of their vineyards into hibernation going forward.

McGauran said he was more in favour, however, of increasing exports to take the excess wine and suggested that Europe's handling of a similar situation showed Australian wine companies the errors of governmental support. "The European measures failed to eliminate structural surpluses and there has been no direct effect on market prices," McGauran said. "Indeed, the protection of inefficient operators has made them less responsive to market pressures."

McGauran did make an offer of A$50,000, however, to assist with market intelligence for the beleaguered industry.