The Brewers Association of Australia and New Zealand has poured cold water on Federal MPs’ recent overtures to the craft brewing sector.
Brewers Association CEO Brett Heffernan told Brews News it was difficult to know how seriously to take the private members’ motion lodged by Labor MP Anthony Albanese last week.
“A motion in the House means nothing and I note that Mr Albanese isn’t suggesting he will take this to the ALP Conference as new policy,” Heffernan said.
“It doesn’t actually call on the government to do anything really. I don’t think it’s going anywhere.
“I suspect this has more to do with Mr Albanese being a good local MP and taking up the issues of his local brewers,” he said.
Heffernan became CEO of the Brewers Association in March, having previously been an advisor to former Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of The Nationals Warren Truss.
He said that in any case, his members – Carlton & United Breweries, Lion and Coopers – would have no objections to some of the reforms mooted by Albanese.
“At face value we have no problems with excise on 30 litre kegs being reduced. My members make up half of the craft brewing sector, so it would benefit them, too,” he said.
And Heffernan said the Brewers Association shares craft brewers’ concerns that Australians pay over the odds when it comes to beer taxes.
“In fact, Australians pay double the average excise rate of the rest of the world to be the highest beer taxed nation on Earth, alongside Finland,” he said.
“Beer excise alone nets the Australian Government over $2 billion a year. Then there’s an added hit with another $337 million in GST on beer. So beer drinkers rightly believe they are already paying through the nose.”
I’m deadly serious: Albanese
Albanese told Brews News in response: “I’m absolutely serious about supporting reform to enhance the competitiveness of craft brewers to support jobs.”
“If Mr Heffernan doesn’t understand a motion from Labor’s Tourism Shadow Minister, seconded by Labor’s Agriculture Shadow Minister is serious that is a matter for him,” the MP for Grayndler said.
“It was good that the motion received cross party support and has put the issue on the agenda.”