Industry calls for August excise relief

10 June, 2020 by Andy Young

Leading industry associations have joined forces to call on the Government to hold off on its impending alcohol excise hike.

The Brewers Association of Australia, Spirits and Cocktails Australia, and Australian Grape and Wine, are – for once – in unison on tax in saying now is not the time for an increase in tax.

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Tony Battaglene, CEO of Australian Grape and Wine, told TheShout: “We believe that there is a need for urgent tax relief for the hospitality sector. Excise relief will help consumers and those retail businesses and we support moves in this direction.

“In a similar fashion WET tax relief would also help small at risk wine producers.”

It was a similar call from Greg Holland, CEO at Spirits and Cocktails Australia, who told TheShout: “Freezing the August excise increase will provide welcome relief for spirits producers, who experienced a 21% volume decline for full-bottled spirits and 37% decline for RTDs at the height of the COVID-19 crisis in April.

“In the face of that challenge, many stepped up to support their communities in innovative ways, chiefly by producing sanitiser for medical and home use.

“We know Australian consumers are also looking forward to a return to normalcy; freezing the August excise increase will be a small way of encouraging them to return to their favourite venues to enjoy connecting again with friends.”

Brewers Association of Australia CEO Brett Heffernan said that with more and more Australians out of work, now is not the time to increase taxes and that any increase would be a huge blow to both punters and publicans.

“We’re not asking for a tax cut at this time, just don’t increase the tax,” he said. “That would spare punters further pain, take pressure off hospitality venues and, because it’s revenue neutral, won’t cost Treasury a cent.

“Putting up the tax in August would be another hit to pubs, clubs and the hundreds of thousands of Australians they need to re-employ once they can re-open in full. Higher taxes will only make that challenge harder when so many are on their knees.”

Tax accounts for 42% of the price of a stubby. On a typical $52.00 carton, $22.05 goes to the taxman. When it comes to taxing a drink, Australians pay the fourth highest beer tax in the industrialised world.

Heffernan added: “Having beer, wine and spirits all on the same page on tax has got to be a first. This is about supporting people having a drink with mates without additional hardship, so they can support their local pubs, clubs and the jobs they provide for a return to normality.

“Australians have endured 71 consecutive beer tax increases since 1983. We don’t need to make it 72.”