The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) has expressed its disappointment with a number of aspects of this year’s Federal Budget, which was presented by Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers earlier this week.

The AHA said drinkers will not be raising a glass to the Budget after Labor once again made no changes to beer and spirits excise and the association said moves to decrease permanent migration levels is a “clear but distressing signal for many industries”.

AHA National CEO Stephen Ferguson said: “Both sides of politics talk about lower taxes, and the Government will shout about all the good things in the Budget, but I don’t see anyone standing up in the media to tell you they are putting up the price of beer and spirits yet again – twice in the next 12 months alone.

“They are addicted to the revenue and the punter in the main bar is paying for it again and again.

This budget continues the twice yearly increase to beer and spirits excise growing, which will now grow from $8.1bn in 2024/25 to $9.35bn in 2027/28, which Ferguson highlighted as, “an additional $1.2bn ripped from drinkers’ pockets.”

He added: “This hidden fun tax hits everyone who enjoys a beer or a whiskey with their mates.”

The AHA, along with Accommodation Australia, also said that the Budget’s plan to decrease permanent migration levels from 190,000 per year to 185,000 will have a direct impact on hospitality services, especially in regional areas.

Ferguson said: “This is disappointing, even though it was expected – given public sentiment, the housing crisis and the strong position taken by the Opposition.

“This is a clear but distressing signal for many industries, not just hospitality and accommodation businesses, which rely on migration to top up essential skills that we need in Australia, especially in the bush.

“Australia simply does not have the population to meet our labour needs, and this move will see a reduction of services at venues in regional areas in particular – more days where a kitchen is closed on a Monday or Tuesday for example.”

Accommodation Australia CEO Michael Johnson added: “In the first draft of the Core Skills List, the primary list does not contain cooks and chefs which is worrying to say the least.

“It is hard to understand that with more than 12,000 vacancies nationwide, just why cooks and chefs cannot be given certainty as a core skill Australia requires?

“We are also still fighting to retain the rule that makes backpackers spend time in the regions and remote Australia if they want to stay in Australia for a second or third year.

“Even though students are here to study first and foremost they do make up an important part of our workforce in pubs and hotels – especially in regional areas.”


As part of its response to the Budget’s plan to cut permanent migration numbers, the AHA held a pre-dawn meeting in Canberra to outline its concerns to the Federal Opposition.

Ferguson and AHA Senior Vice President David Basheer met at 6.30am for an hour’s meeting with Shadow Minister for Immigration Dan Tehan MP to work through the AHA’s issues.

It was agreed any migration skills list needs to have a clear focus on where the real shortages are, and that the Coalition would work with the AHA and Accommodation Australia in the finalisation of its migration and workforce policies.

Ferguson said the hospitality sector was facing real challenges – especially in the regions.

“The hospitality sector has 12,000 chef and cook positions vacant right now – we are also in desperate need of restaurant and hotel managers to name a few,” he said.

“To put it simply there just aren’t enough Australians now to fill these jobs – let alone when Governments lower the migration intake even further.”

Accommodation Australia CEO Michael Johnson warned of possible restaurant closures.

“If the hospitality and accommodation sectors can’t get access to the skills they need, this will mean even more hotel restaurants closed on more days of the week unfortunately,” Mr Johnson said.

“That leads to a loss of productivity and lost employment opportunities.”

The Budget also came under criticism from Australia’s beer, wine and spirits producers, who described it as misguided and a missed opportunity.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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1 Comment

  1. welfare is the problem too many on it with no incentive to work
    when they are getting paid to do nothing
    we have become the nation of welfare
    cut welfare you will have your staff
    of course they will hit you with increases as it is felt it is a luxury to have a beer
    where do you think these revenues get poured into
    we dont need more immigrants!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    we need smarter politicians that know economics not pass policy
    for votes and their egos

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