Australian distillers demand reduction in ‘spirits super tax’

16 November, 2018 by Deborah Jackson

By Mitchell Stapleton-Coory, Bellr

Australian distillers are demanding a decrease in excise duty on spirits, labelling the current regime a ‘spirits super tax’.

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At the Australian Distillers Association (ADA) annual conference in Adelaide last week, delegates were united and vocal in their opposition to the tax regime that spirits are subject to.

Under Australian law, distilleries are beholden to an $84.51 excise duty per litre of alcohol sold. The tax raised from a single nip of gin in Australia is $1.06, which is around 10 times the amount levied in the US, and more than twice as much as packaged beer and four times higher than commercial cider.

At a panel discussion including Federal Member for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie MP, comments from delegates were squarely focused on characterising the regime as a spirits super tax on distilleries, with many wanting to get the issue onto the political agenda ahead of the 2019 election.

Trudy Dickson from Ambleside Distillers and David Pearse of 5Nines Distilling led the charge in lobbying Minister Sharkie to help raise political awareness.

“Our businesses are creating jobs and have huge growth and export potential. But the spirits super tax is holding back growth opportunities,” said Dickson.

But Minister Sharkie said that spirits excise is not being widely discussed in Parliament and she implored delegates to act as a united front to raise awareness.

“It’s important that you establish relationships with your local members. Invite them to your facilities, educate them about this industry and help them to comprehend the potential for economic growth in this sector,” she said.

Alec Wagstaff, the CEO of Spirits & Cocktails Australia, told TheShout that Australian spirits consumers and producers deserve a fair go.

“It was great to meet with such a passionate community at the Australian Distillers Association conference. Australian spirits drinkers of all types deserve a fair go and local businesses face an uphill battle faced with punitive levels of tax. I believe Spirits & Cocktails Australia and the ADA are of one voice when we call on the Government to freeze the spirits super tax.”

The 2018 ADA Conference drew more than 140 delegates, up from just 40 a few years ago – a fact that was welcomed by Four Pillars Co-founder and ADA President, Stuart Gregor.

“The turnout was great, the calibre of speakers was excellent, and I think there is a real sense of camaraderie and buoyancy in the craft spirits industry at the moment – a sense that people are in for something interesting and exciting,” he said.