By Andy Young

Senator Jacqui Lambie has advocated reform of Australia's alcohol tax system, which she says currently discriminates against the spirits industry.

Speaking in the Senate this week, Lambie said that she had written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, seeking reforms that would benefit Australia's craft distillery industry.

Lambie said: "The distilling industry in Australia is subject to a taxation system that actively discriminates against it relative to other beverage alcohol producers both in terms of rates and compliance requirements. This discrimination is then exacerbated by the fact that other sectors of the alcohol industry receive various forms of assistance that the distilling industry does not."

She added: "The Government's ongoing Tax White Paper process offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring good public policy to the forefront of developing a new alcohol tax system. Indeed, any tax reform package that does not include reforming alcohol tax would not be real reform. These reform proposals have the support of our distilling industry.

"In talking to distillers in Tasmania, it has become clear to me that the massive discrimination against spirits in terms of tax paid is a significant barrier to Australia's distilling industry and discourages innovation and investment.

"A single, fair rate would allow Australia's distilling industry to grow and compete on a level playing field and end the discrimination and complexity of the current arrangements. This is good policy that supports innovation and investment and removes the single largest barrier to our emerging distilling industry."

Lambie proposed that the current Wine Equalisation Tax Rebate and the Brewery Refund Scheme should be replaced with an industry-wide producers' rebate. The government is currently considering amendments to the existing alcohol tax system, described by former treasurer Peter Costello as a "dog's breakfast".

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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