Distillers slam sexist beer tax cuts

Australian distillers are furious that the Australian Government is considering tax cuts for beer but not spirits, labelling the move as “sexist”.

Federal government backbenchers have endorsed the Australian Hotels Association’s national campaign to halve the excise tax on draught beer for pubs.

Senior sources told News Corp last week that the tax cut is under “serious consideration” for next month’s federal budget.

Distillers say its sexist because more than 50% of Australian men are regular beer drinkers, compared to just 10% of women.

“Why would you deliver a tax cut that ignores the choices of nine out of ten Australian women?” Spirits and Cocktails Australia chief executive Greg Holland asked The Daily Telegraph.

“Imagine Scott Morrison or Treasurer Josh Frydenberg walking into a bar and shouting a round of beers for a bunch of blokes, while turning their backs on the women enjoying a quiet gin and tonic or cocktail after work. It would be considered outrageously sexist and out of date – but that is exactly what this proposal represents.

“Why would the Government want to play favourites with a tax break just for blokes and not for women?”

Holland said the proposed price reduction should be extended across the drinks sector.

“That would give distillers and the nearly 50,000 hospitality venues around Australia that don’t serve draught beer some much-needed relief after two tumultuous years of lockdowns and a bit of predictability as they forge ahead,” he said.

Adem Karafili, Executive Chairman at Top Shelf International, which produces brands including Grainshaker Vodka and Ned Whisky, agrees.

“Why would we leave out 90% of females that don’t drink beer?” he said. “The Australian spirits industry would benefit greatly from a similar cut in excise so that all people, men and women, can enjoy some price relief on their drinks. A female drinker having a G&T or vodka Soda should also get some benefit, otherwise it’s just a tax cut for the blokes.

“There are 50,000 hospitality venues in Australia that don’t serve tap beer. These venues have suffered enormously over the last two years, so we support helping them too and getting all people back to venues. Imagine how the Tassie spirits industry would thrive!”

Last year, Spirits and Cocktails Australia stepped up its fight for a more equitable spirits tax regime. 

Holland (above) noted that while the Australian distilling industry was world-class, it was held back by a spirits tax that ranks as the third highest in the world, behind Iceland and Norway, respectively.

“To make matters worse, it’s indexed to increase twice a year,” he said. “When you can often buy a bottle of Australian spirits for less overseas than you can at home, it’s fair to say that’s a tax that is out of control and urgently needs reform.

“The existing spirits tax rate  is currently more than nine times higher than the United States. That’s an unnecessary burden hampering recovery.” 

Pictured main: Opera Bar

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Categories: Business