Australia’s distillers have welcomed cross-party support in federal parliament for urgent action on this country’s spirits tax regime, now the third highest in the world.
A motion calling for spirits tax reform was moved in the House of Representatives on Monday night by Tasmanian Independent Andrew Wilkie (the member for Clark), and seconded by South Australian Independent Rebekha Sharkie (Mayo).
Coalition MPs Bridget Archer (Bass) and Tim Wilson (Goldstein) and Labor MPs Brian Mitchell (Lyons) and Patrick Gorman (Perth) also spoke passionately in support of the motion.
The Australian Distillers Association and Spirits and Cocktails Australia applauded the members for their support of their industry, which now employs more than 5,000 Australians and supports another 15,000 jobs indirectly.
The organisations welcomed the growing recognition among federal MPs of how the unfair spirits tax is holding back a promising Australian industry, as captured in the members’ speeches on Monday night:
“Tasmania's boutique distillers in particular desperately need this tax reform and some may sink without it… It is clear that current spirit taxation is a huge barrier to locally-made craft spirits, achieving success nationally and in overseas markets.” – Andrew Wilkie, Member for Clark “We are taxing the lifeblood out of this industry, and this industry will not flourish. The government says it's a government for low taxes and believes that, by lowering taxes, we stimulate the economy.
Well, this is a prime example.” – Rebekha Sharkie, Member for Mayo
“I believe an opportunity exists to look at reducing the current rate of the spirits excise, even by a moderate amount, which would provide our distillers with the confidence to reinvest in their businesses and create further jobs in the hospitality and regional tourism industries, two industries that were hardest hit by the pandemic.” – Bridget Archer, Member for Bass
“It's a space where we as a country do it so differently to everybody else, which gives us an incredible product position. But there's one thing that's holding us, like the entire country, back: we desperately need tax reform, tax reform, tax reform.” – Tim Wilson, Member for Goldstein
“When wine taxation was reformed, it led to an explosion in the industry. It just blossomed. That's what we want to see happen with spirits.” – Brian Mitchell, Member for Lyons
“We talk about bringing back manufacturing to Australia. The distilling industry is manufacturing, and we should do what we can to support it. It's exactly what Australians want: quality jobs, value added, export-ready.” – Patrick Gorman, Member for Perth
Australian Distillers Association
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