Lobbying by the Independent Brewers Association in the lead up to the New South Wales state election has secured a support pledge from the current Government.
The trade association for independent breweries has received a commitment that, if re-elected, the Berejiklian Coalition government would provide greater support to the industry across a range of areas.
NSW Minister for Primary Industries and Minister for Trade and Industry Niall Blair, told Brews News that the commitment ensures the NSW Food and Beverage Manufacturing Industry Development strategy includes the craft brewing industry.
“We’ve released recently a food and beverage manufacturing strategy in New South Wales, and that commits us to helping foster that sector,” Minister Blair said.
“Within that, we want to have a subset now that helps to grow the independent brewing industry throughout the state, whether it’s in business development, whether it’s in attracting talent, and training the right people for the skills that are needed for the sector.
“This is basically signing up the government to work with industry to come out with a specific strategy that’s going to work for that industry to help it grow.”
Minister Blair said that as a National Party MP, he recognises the value of craft breweries especially to the regions.
“We’re seeing a large number of these independent brewers popping up in regional areas. It’s becoming a real tourism draw card, and it’s a sort of culture that’s also fostering new businesses and startups to experiment in this area as well,” he said.
Minister Blair confirmed party support for the industry in a letter to the Independent Brewers’ Association last Friday.
IBA Chair Jamie Cook told Brews News that the commitment is the result of a range of lobbying activities being undertaken by the association.
“We’ve been lobbying across three fronts, the New South Wales state election, the Federal budget and the Federal election, so there has been a lot of work done over the last couple of months and will continue up until the Federal election to position the industry,” Cook said.
“On the New South Wales front we have recognition from the Government that the industry is a substantial employer, is fostering a very strong sense of community, and also providing interesting tourism opportunities.
“[We understand the NSW Government] is looking at pulling together a targeted suite of initiatives to build the industry and its capability.”
The support pledge comes on the heels of the launch of the Queensland Government’s Craft Beer Strategy that was published late last year.
The Queensland initiative was sparked by industry disquiet over Government support to attract Scottish brewer BrewDog.
During his interview with Brews News, Minister Blair highlighted the changing perception of beer and the role that independent breweries were playing in bringing that about.
“I’m the patron of the [Royal Agricultural Society] in New South Wales, and the thing that I love the most last year was that the RAS commissioned a New South Wales brew just for the Show,” he said,
“It was called the Show Stopper and was brewed for the Easter Show last year.
“It had hops from New South Wales, a local yeast, obviously the grain had was locally grown and malted, and basically it was New South Wales in a glass.
“We haven’t seen hops coming out of New South Wales, but that was something that we really celebrated, that sort of parochial beer that used all New South Wales ingredients, and I think that’s the sort of provenance story that we’re starting to see more and more.”