Australia’s beer and spirits industries have once again been hit with a growth-inhibiting tax increase as the bi-annual CPI increase kicks in and the Federal Government continues to ignore pleas to help the Australian businesses.

The law indexes the excise duty rates for alcohol twice a year, based on the upward movement of the consumer price index (CPI).

The Australian Bureau of Statistics published the CPI on Wednesday 31 January and indexation day comes five days later, so the latest hike to hit consumers came into effect today.

While there are several categories for the taxation of beer, for beer with alcohol exceeding three per cent in an individual container less than eight litres the tax is now over $60, and $60.12. Pub beer tax now effectively sits at $42.37 for beers over 3.5 per cent.

The big hits are also continuing for Australia’s spirits industry, after tax went past $100 for the first time in August last year, it has gone up again this month and now sits at $101.85 per litre of alcohol.

Spirits & Cocktails Australia chief executive Greg Holland said the latest hike means spirits tax has increased by 16 per cent during the inflationary environment of the last three years.

“This tax is clearly unstainable for spirits manufacturers, their trade customers, and consumers who are already struggling with the cost of living,” he said.

“We call on the Government once again to freeze this tax at its current rate for two years.

“This temporary measure will take the pressure off our industry and help the Government accomplish its mission of bringing inflation back under control.”

Australian Distillers Association chief executive Paul McLeay said the country’s craft spirits industry is united in calling for urgent tax reform.

“There are now more than 600 distilleries across Australia, half of which are located in regional areas,” he said.

“Their future is increasingly being jeopardised by these relentless six-monthly tax increases.

“We say to the Government: enough is enough. Freeze spirits tax at its current rate for two years so that we can work together on developing sustainable policy settings for our industry.”

John Preston, CEO of the Brewers Association, told The Shout: “This is more bad news for any Australian who enjoys having a beer with their friends in the pub or at home.

“This twice-yearly increase is hurting hard-working Australians with our beer tax now the third highest in the world behind Norway and Finland. This means that we’re seeing $15 a pint in some pubs and if you go into a bottleshop, $20 of that slab goes straight to the Federal Government. It’s just more bad news.”

Despite strong campaigns from the brewing and spirits industries for the Government to freeze the tax, this continual cost of living burden on the Australian public is ignored by Anthony Albanese and indeed by mainstream media. In 17 press conferences and interviews last week the Prime Minister was asked about this issue only once.

3AW’s Jacqui Felgate asked the Prime Minister about beer excise, and he said: “Last time I had schooners, I bought a few, and it added up to almost $30 for just three beers. So, it is expensive, the cost of living.

“That’s one of the reasons why we’re not just sitting back and wringing our hands and saying, oh, well, this is difficult. We have so many measures – cheaper childcare has reduced the cost of childcare by 11 per cent.”

When pressed on whether the Labor Party would look at pausing excise, the Prime Minister replied: “We are not looking at that at the moment, but obviously in the lead up to budgets, you have submissions and I’m sure that there’ll be submissions along a whole range of ways. One of the things that we have to do though, is look at ways where we provide cost of living support, whilst putting downward pressure on inflation.”

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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