Brewers and distillers feel disappointed and betrayed by Queensland’s Palaszczuk Government, after a vote which allows consumers to takeaway wine with a meal, but not beer or spirits.

The Queensland parliament has voted to make permanent several temporary COVID measures, including allowing customers to buy two bottles of wine with a takeaway meal. The same rights have not been extended to spirits, RTDs, beer or cider, despite a recommendation by the State Development and Regional Industries Committee that this would provide a valuable boost to Queensland small businesses and minimise harm.

“We now have an outrageous situation where Queenslanders can buy a bottle of wine from the Yarra Valley or the Hunter with their takeaway meals but their own government says they can’t enjoy an iconic Bundaberg Rum,” Spirits & Cocktails Australia chief executive Greg Holland said.

“It’s a slap in the face to the incredibly hardworking craft producers of this state, who buy local produce every day and attract tourists to their regions, as well as the larger manufacturers of RTDs (ready-to-drinks) who directly employ thousands of Queenslanders.

“This decision also ignores the common-sense approach taken by police and doctors, who recognise that all alcohol is the same, regardless of whether it is contained in beer, wine or spirits.”

Richard Adamson, Chair of the Independent Brewers Association (IBA), told The Shout: “The IBA is disappointed the the QLD Parliament ignored recommendations by State Development and Regional Industries Committee to allow Restaurants to sell an equal volume of beer as wine to takeaway customers.

“Contrary to previous misinformed statements from the QLD Government about alcoholic strength, patrons will not be afforded the choice to buy lower ABV drinks with their meal (which beer usually represents), or exercise their preference for beer as their dinner partner under this legislation. The independent beer industry will continue to support restaurants during this difficult time as and where it can.”

Spirits and Cocktails Australia thanked members of the State Development and Regional Industries Committee for their engagement during public hearings.

“We thank those Queensland MPs who took the time to learn about the Queensland hospitality industry, and particularly appreciate their recognition of the importance of consistent and fair rules governing alcohol sales across categories,” Holland said.

“We also note that Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman indicated last week that this stage might inform future policy development in this space. We look forward to engaging with her about policies that recognise and support the future of the Queensland spirits industry.”

Kylie Lethbridge, IBA CEO, also expressed her disappointment in the legislation, saying: “The IBA provided a detailed response to the consultation on the draft Bill as well as speaking to its content. 

“Independent brewers in Queensland were grateful for the Bill that was introduced in May 2020, which allowed venues to temporarily sell takeaway liquor regardless of the limitations of their licence or permit. This provided a much-needed distribution channel during what was a very challenging time for small business in the state.

“The Bill that would make part of this arrangement permanent was also a welcome relief up until the point we realised our feedback on the draft proposals had been disregarded and the sale of a limited amount of beer under these same arrangements would no longer be possible.

“We are most disappointed in the outcome as the government’s own State Development and Regional Industries Committee recommendation provided for a fair and equitable playing field only to be completely ignored when presented. To limit take-away sales of beer only to bottle shops is a discriminatory decision that favours and protects certain elements of the industry, with no data to justify that decision.

“Not only does this decision contradict the objectives set out in the Queensland Craft Brewing Strategy, which was put in place by the now Treasurer and continued under Minister Butcher, but it levels a giant kick in the face to restauranteurs and small producers such as our members.

“The recommendations ensure that revenue for independent, Australian own breweries is diminished in favour of wine and we are still at a loss as to why this decision has been made when our industry provides employment to 4,413 people and contributed $256m to the State’s economy in 2020.”

John Preston CEO of the Brewers Association told Fairfax Media there is no evidence that beer causes more alcohol related harm than wine.

“In fact, the two biggest-selling beers in the country, both produced in Queensland – XXXX and Great Northern – have an alcohol by volume of 3.5 per cent,” Preston said.

“The idea that those, and other responsibly consumed, beers would not be available to Queenslanders through the proposed licence, but that two bottles of wine would be, is – in our view – wrong.”

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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