Alec Wagstaff, the CEO of Spirits & Cocktails Australia, says that a freeze of the spirits super tax would be the first step in unlocking the Australian spirit manufacturing and retail sector’s full potential.

For many years Australian spirits drinkers have paid some of the world’s highest taxes on their drinks. Australia’s tax is 70 per cent higher than that paid in New Zealand; it’s more than double that paid by consumers of packaged beer and it is four times that paid by drinkers of commercial cider.  And this high level of tax is increased every six months.

In recent years, Australia’s local distilling sector has started to build a premium reputation, with Australian made spirits taking out prestigious awards around the world. There are now more than 180 distilleries in Australia – predominantly small, family businesses. They are passionate about what they do and committed to their community. Many of them are already investing in much-needed tourism and hospitality infrastructure, with the result that growth in the distilling sector is directly creating jobs and also supporting Australia’s broader tourism offer. However, these distillers face a huge barrier.

We need urgent action now, followed by a comprehensive review of alcohol tax arrangements. We need a system that relieves the high tax paid by drinkers, stops the tax getting worse and attracts material investment into the industry.

Spirits and Cocktails Australia, with the support of the Australian Distillers Association (ADA), has been campaigning for a freeze on the twice-yearly indexation of excise on all spirits. We consider a freeze the important first step to giving spirits drinkers a fair go and to unlocking the full potential of the spirit manufacturing and retail sector across the country.

During the recent federal election we ran a strong campaign urging candidates to support a freeze of the spirits super tax and we will continue to campaign until this is achieved. We encourage you to highlight the issue with the new government and to indicate to them your support for the introduction of an equitable alcohol tax system by emailing your local MP or signing the petition available here:

This article first appeared in the June issue of National Liquor News, which is available online now.

Deborah Jackson

Deb joined Intermedia in 2015 as Editor of National Liquor News and Deputy Editor of The Shout. Since then, she has also worked as the Editor of Beer & Brewer and the New Zealand title, World of Wine....

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