By Andy Young
The Liquor Stores Association (LSA) has launched a major campaign against the huge increases in bottleshop taxes that have been proposed by the ACT Government.
Retailers and suppliers at the launch of the LSA's taxes campaign
With the support local liquor store operators and many suppliers, the LSA officially launched the “say no to higher taxes on your drinks” campaign in Canberra yesterday.
Speaking at the launch, the CEO of the Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA), Terry Mott, told TheShout: “What we are here today to launch is a campaign to try and get the message across to the ACT Government, that the already high license fees in the ACT, that are already up to 20 times higher than neighbouring businesses across the border in Bungendore, or anywhere else in New South Wales, that these fees impact on local businesses, they will impact on local jobs, they will impact on local consumers. They will certainly have an impact in terms of either having to reduce jobs or increase prices in what is already a very competitive market.
“So what we are trying to do, and what have been trying to do with the ACT Government for some time, is convey that this further 25 per cent increase on any respectable business that is focused on alcohol retail, will have a big impact on these businesses. It will cause further stress on the way these businesses operate in the future.
“If the Government goes ahead with this 25 per cent increase, when is the next one? And it seems that for an extra $200,000 in revenue, they are prepared to ignore Canberra drinkers and they are prepared to ignore local businesses. We think it is important is that retailers and those impacted get behind the campaign, get support of the staff, put up the posters, supply the leaflets, put the petition out and encourage customers to sign the petition so that we can get the message across to government.”
Mott added: “There are 300,000 shoppers in ACT liquor stores every week and they are being encouraged to sign a petition which supports saying ‘no’ to bottleshop tax increases.
“The campaign is running in bottleshops across the ACT all the way through the upcoming ACT election campaign, if that’s what it takes to bring about decisive action. Operators of bottleshops support evidence-based policy which targets alcohol misuse while not adversely affecting the majority of ACT residents and domestic/international visitors who consume alcohol responsibly.”
The LSA ACT’s executive officer, Michael Waters, added: “Thanks very much to everyone who has turned out today, this is a big issue. It doesn’t just impact the independent stores, it impacts the entire industry, the suppliers and their representatives.
“Today we kick-off our campaign, and what we’ve got is some point of sale material and some posters, that we would strongly encourage retailers to use in store. We’ve also got a petition and retailers should engage with customers and ask them to read the message, absorb the message and the key talking points.
John Wilson, the owner of two liquor stores in the ACT, is understandably concerned about the proposed increases, especially as the Territory already has the highest license fees in the country. Wilson told TheShout: “The major impact is that this will cost me up to another $6000 for my two stores and that money has got to come from somewhere. For the government the impact is only and extra $190,000 to $200,000, so in the whole scheme of things it’s not a huge amount of money to them, but to a small businesses, family-owned businesses, in fact all businesses in the ACT, it is going to hurt.
“The government has a bit of form for just putting up these fees without notice. About six years ago they went from around $3000 a license to up around $11,000 a license and that just happened overnight, without consultation.
“I think it’s important for retailers and consumers to have a look for themselves, read up about it and sign the petition. I think that’s the biggest thing to get a lot of names signing the petition and make the government listen.”
On behalf of its members, LSA ACT has written to and attempted to meet with the ACT Chief Minister, Mr Andrew Barr MLA, to discuss this important local issue, but despite the significant consequences for local businesses, Mr Barr said he does not consider a meeting is necessary at this point in time.
The campaign is being promoted through posters in local bottleshops (and other point-of-sale material), on the internet (www.lsaact.com.au) and on social media.