Beer costs may rise from today as the tax increase hits and the industry demands deferral

A brewery owner in remote northern Queensland has joined pub, club and industry representatives, urging the federal government to cut beer taxes after two tumultuous years of COVID lockdowns and restrictions.

The Australian Hotels Association, Clubs Australia and the Brewers Association have launched a national campaign to cut back on the bi-annual tax increase on draft beer, which takes effect today.

“Twice a year for 35 years, pubs and alcoholics have managed a tax hike on draft beer,” said Queensland Hotels Association CEO Bernie Hogan.

“This year – after our members have done the right thing throughout the pandemic and at a time when jobs and businesses are in balance – we are asking pubs and drinkers to take a break.”

Organizations are pushing for the draft tax on beer barrels to be cut in half, from $ 70 to $ 35.

They say Australia has the fourth highest tax on beer in the world, after Norway, Finland and Japan.

An empty pub with tables on chairs
Hemmingway’s Brewery in Cairns has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.(ABC Far North: Phil Staley)

Brewery owner says “give us a break”

Tony Fyfe, co-owner of Hemmingway’s Brewery in Cairns, supports the campaign to cut federal beer taxes, saying a reduction could help the struggling hospitality industry after two years of COVID-19 restrictions and shutdowns.

Close-up of a hand pouring a beer from a bar tap.
The price of draft beer may increase as a tax on beer takes effect from today.(ABC News: James Carmody)

“Over the last two years, we have done the right thing, followed the government mandates, shut down when we needed to and operated under really severe restrictions.

The Brewers Association of Australia’s executive director, John Preston, said a 50 per cent reduction in the draft beer tax would reduce the federal government’s revenue from alcohol taxes by only $ 150 million a year, or about 5 per cent of the total beer taxes levied.

He said today’s beer walk could be passed on to consumers.

“Australian beer drinkers will cope with the biggest beer tax increase in more than a decade – that’s not right and it’s not sustainable,” Mr Preston said.

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