Anthony Albanese, Federal Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development, has urged his Government colleagues to update policy, excise and planning rules to help boost the craft brewing chamber.
In moving Private Members’ Business for the craft brewing industry, Albanese highlighted that craft brewing is helping to create hundreds of jobs, but that the industry is being restricted by outdated planning controls and poor excise legislation.
Albanese’s bill comes only days after he announced the launch of the Inner West Brewery Association (IWBA), following through on his pledge to move the motion in Parliament.
In moving his motion, Albanese said: “I do so in support of those Australians who are currently employed by the more than 400 craft brewers around Australia. The craft brewing industry is a job creation powerhouse, but if we get the policy settings right it could generate even more jobs not just in our capital cities but also in our regional communities.
“Craft beer is a quality product; however, the industry has been restricted by outdated planning controls and development approval processes at the state and local levels, and this resolution calls for local and state governments to provide support to the craft brewing sector.
“But the fact is it is also disadvantaged at the federal level by poor legislation related to the excise rates faced by small brewers. Today the rate of the federal excise charged for a keg containing 50 litres of beer is less than the rate charged for a keg containing 30 litres.
“In addition to this, a maximum tax rebate a brewery can receive per calendar year is $30,000, which compares unfavourably to the wine industry’s producer rebate of some $500,000.
“These anomalies put Australia’s craft beer brewers at a competitive disadvantage against mass produced beers. With excise making up approximately 40 per cent of operating costs for most craft breweries in Australia, this has to change.”
Albanese highlighted that as well as the craft breweries themselves, the industry is helping other small businesses particularly in agriculture and that there are great opportunities for craft beer tourism.
“If the government is serious about supporting small business in Australia then it needs to get serious about changing the legislation to help our brewers. Despite the obstacles faced by the industry it continues to expand, and the type of kick-on employment that the sector supports, such as boutique hops growers, is vital to a healthy and diverse national economy.
“With proper support from the federal government, the potential for growth is enormous. Already, major regional centres, like Ballarat, Wagga Wagga, the Hunter, the Illawarra and in Tasmania—including Scottsdale, where I visited the brewery there—have seen growth in local jobs, with people being employed and local communities being able to gather.
“I certainly have respect for the resilience and success of the craft beer-brewing industry. I have respect for the sector’s contribution to the national economy. And I have respect for the fact that local breweries employ local people.”