The Australian Distillers Association and the Independent Brewers Association have joined forces to ask Government for help in surviving the COVID-19 crisis.
With pub, cellar door and travel retail revenue streams all gone, many of the 930 small businesses that the two associations represent are in survival mode during Australia’s lockdown.
In a bid to offer some kind of relief the associations are in the process of writing to politicians, asking for an increase to the Small Brewers and Distillers Rebate scheme.
As Stu Gregor, President of the ADA, told TheShout, this could make a huge difference to many small businesses.
“We are working with the brewers to try and get Government to do something really simple and really quick that will help 930 businesses that could be in real strife. There is real concern that some of them are losing 90 per cent of their business.
“The idea is that last year we got relief on the first $100,000 of excise and we get $60,000 of that back and that came into effect 1 July. Now the wine industry, through WET, doesn’t pay tax on its first $350,000 of sales. So we have got together to ask Government, can we have the same size rebate? Can we put it in place just for this financial year that we are currently in, as well as next year – we’re not asking for this forever.
“That would put $250,000 of excise relief in the pockets of most small distilleries and breweries for this financial year and then again next year, which would be huge and would take them through to June 30 2021.”
While Gregor says that the other issues the associations have been pressing government on around excise reductions and relief don’t go away, this ask is simply “an immediate survival option for the domestic industry”.
He added: “We want to keep these businesses alive. If we come out of this mess, whenever that is, and we’ve lost the small, the craft, the creative, that would be a huge loss to the broader Australian society. And we figure about two-thirds of these businesses are in regional and rural areas and the impact of jobs would be huge.”
Gregor called on all those involved with local, craft brewers or distillers to contact their local MP and ask the Government to consider:
- Increase the small brewers and distillers rebate to $350,000 on a two-year trial basis;
- Have the new rebate apply to the current 2020 financial year as well as the 2021 financial year;
- Increase the rate from the current level of 60% to 100% of excise payable up to the $350,000 cap;
- Allow brewers and distillers to pay their excise net of any rebate rather than needing to pay excise and claim a refund.
These measures would not require legislative approval and would grant immediate relief to hundreds of small businesses and potentially help save thousands of jobs.