By Andrew Starke
The Australian Greens have pledged to ensure the historic Cascade brewery remains in South Hobart and will continue to press for reforms to the tax treatment of microbreweries.
"The loss of another of Australia's food and beverages giants to overseas owners raises important questions for us all to consider," Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.
"As we discuss the sale of prime agricultural land to foreign governments, and the takeover of farmland by coal and coal seam gas miners, we really need to look at how much of our food and beverage production we want to keep in Australian hands.”
While the microbrewery motion, which was instigated by Tasmania’s Two Metre Tall brewery, was voted down by Coalition and Labor MPs this week, Milne has pledged that the campaign will go on.
Earlier this week, the Greens called on government to reform the definition of a microbrewery for tax purposes, helping more innovative small businesses become medium-sized businesses and increasing tax revenues.
"For Tasmania, it's important that the Cascade Brewery stays in South Hobart, where it creates and supports local jobs,” said Milne.
"The Greens' promotion of Tasmania as clean, green and clever was taken up by the Cascade brand and has been a central part of its success.
"Increasingly, iconic Australian brands are being undermined by multi-national takeovers, another reason why we should reform the excise treatment of microbreweries so we can help rebuild an old Australian industry.”
Microbreweries can only access the excise refund that other small local producers get if they brew less than 30,000 litres a year.
The Greens feel his limit, and the $10,000 cap on the total refund, is stifling the growth of the industry, allowing further market domination by imported beers.
John Stallwood of microbrewer Nail Brewing Australia said it was great to hear that the Greens had taken the matter to the Senate and, though not initially successful, were planning to continue to work for reform.
"It’s taken ten years to get this far,” he said. “Though the Australian craft beer market is booming and is now 2 percent of the beer market, it is not the small independent breweries that are winning from it.
"The small microbreweries struggle and will continue to struggle because excise kills growth of small business.
"Only a microbrewery that can brew over 500,000 litres can break this barrier and that takes a lot of money to set up.”