Brewers bite back at new beer tax proposal

Posted by Andrea Hogan on 10th January 2018

A bid to increase tax on beer sold in Australia to discourage consumption has been labelled “misguided, lazy and flawed” by brewers.

In early January 2018 the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education made a submission to the Australian Federal Government calling for alcohol tax to increase, including making sure draught beer is taxed at the same rate as packaged beer.

Brewers Association of Australia Chief Executive Officer, Brett Heffernan, has however dismissed the proposal, saying beer in Australia is already pricy enough.

“Any Aussie venturing overseas who has slicked their thirst with a cleansing ale knows we pay a premium for beer in Australia,” Heffernan said.

“Australians pay amongst the highest excise on beer in the world. Then we pay a further 10 per cent in GST on top of that. Last year, taxes on beer drinkers alone netted the Australian Government almost $2.4 billion.”

Heffernan said 2014 University of Adelaide research showed that beer sold in Australia is taxed at more than twice the OECD average.

“Comparing our $0.58 excise on the $2.00 wholesale pre-tax beer price, Australians pay over seven times more than Argentina, Belgium, Chile and Poland ($0.08); over six times more than Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands and South Africa ($0.09); almost five times more than Italy and Greece ($0.12); double the beer excise paid in the US ($0.29) and almost double that of New Zealand ($0.33),” Heffernan stated.

“Of the $47.99 retail price of a typical 24-carton of full-strength beer, $15.08 of that price is tax. It means the single most expensive ingredient in beer is Australian Government tax. Tax accounts for almost one-third (31 per cent) of the total price of a carton of full-strength beer.”

Heffernan said that exercise on beer in Australia is also automatically increased by the Australian Federal Government every six months.

“Calls for higher taxes or minimum floor prices on beer are misguided,” Heffernan commented.

“Firstly, when it comes to cheap alcohol products, beer is not one of them.

“Secondly, price is not a pressure point for those who misuse alcohol. It’s lazy and flawed policy… it penalises the vast majority who drink responsibly while doing nothing for those few at risk of harm.”


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