Membership of the Brewers Association of Australia is voluntary. Our members bring unity of purpose and dedication to the shared vision of seeing beer celebrated through responsible consumption and recognition of the sector’s economic and social contribution to the Australian community…
Beer can boast, by far and away, the lowest alcohol content of all alcohol products. In fact, the advent of low- and mid-strength beers – led by Brewers Association of Australia members – now account for over one-quarter (28.6%) of all beer sales in Australia.
Beer is typically consumed in moderation by the overwhelming majority of people.
Australian beer is made from natural ingredients sourced from Australian farms – including 1,050,000 tonnes of barley and 500 tonnes of hops each year – and is internationally-renowned for its environmentally-sustainable production.
For every full-time job in an Australian brewery another 21.6 full-time jobs are created throughout the economy – that’s 97,600 full-time jobs or over 133,000 jobs in all (including part-time employees).
In fact, Australian beer generates $16 billion in economic activity each year.
Some 85% of all beer sold in Australia is made in Australia.
The Brewers Association has commissioned research into the economic contribution of the beer industry in Australia and drawn upon research by independent and authoritative bodies on consumption trends and health issues.
This evidence-based approach is the basis upon which all Brewers Association of Australia activity is premised.
The lack of knowledge about beer can contribute to government apathy in considering the negative impact on the sector when introducing new regulation. It also feeds negative and often ill-informed media commentary about alcohol and beer.
Striving to balance the political and public discussion in an informed way can, in turn, better guide and inform evidence-based and targeted policy responses.
A rational discussion
The vast majority of Australians drink responsibly. In fact, the World Health Organisation puts Australia at the low end of the spectrum of alcohol abuse.
Yet, despite the continuing decade-on-decade decline in harmful drinking in Australia, high-risk consumption does exist among some groups. The reasons for alcohol misuse and its associated impacts are complex.
When it comes to violence in the community, alcohol can be a contributing or exacerbating factor, but it is not the sole or root cause.
Nevertheless, some would have policy-makers and the public believe that there is an alcohol crisis that requires an immediate government response to increase regulation on brewers and costs for consumers. This lack of balance in the policy and public debate can lead to knee-jerk, untargeted and ineffective responses that, ultimately, do not address the actual cause of issues within the community.
The reputation of beer and, more broadly, the alcohol sector is the responsibility of all of those who operate within it.
The Brewers Association of Australia recognises that while many of the harms associated with alcohol are not typically beer-related, beer nonetheless makes-up a significant proportion of alcohol consumed in Australia, so there is usually a disproportionate impact on beer producers and consumers.
As such, the Brewers Association seeks to inform the alcohol debate to encourage a more informed, evidence-based and balanced discussion.
Beer and taxes
Australians pay the fourth highest excise (beer tax) on beer in the world. They then pay another 10% GST on top of everything, including the excise, at the retail end. That excise rate of tax in Australia is automatically increased every six months.
Frankly, enough is enough.
The Brewers Association of Australia is seeking reductions in excise. Australian beer drinkers paid $3.6 billion in taxes in 2018-19 on their favourite brews, meanwhile, all key Australian Government indicators on alcohol consumption continue a 40-plus year decline. It’s time Aussies were rewarded for doing the right thing.
For the most part, the Australian alcohol taxation system is simple and straight-forward to manage. The beer industry is not seeking reform, except to provide beer drinkers with excise relief. The sheer quantum of taxes paid by Australian beer drinkers in our tax system is disproportionate.
The system also contains a glaring anomaly in the way wine is taxed, which is excise-free. Under the Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) system, wine producers get a full rebate on the tax they pay up to $350,000.00 per year. In addition, they receive a $100,000.00 per year grant just for having a cellar door. These are irrational taxpayer-funded subsidies.
This creates a major shortfall in government revenue to the tune of billions of dollars each year, fails the equity test in the taxation system, distorts the wine market and undermines wine industry sustainability, while also creating perverse health outcomes by making it possible for some players to produce bulk, high-alcohol wine often cheaper than water.
Any serious taxation reform must address this loophole.
Population-wide regulatory interventions, aimed at punishing drinkers to decrease per-capita consumption instead of targeting misuse and its causes, are ineffective.
The Brewers Association of Australia advocates for sensible, targeted approaches to issues of alcohol misuse and associated harms supported by rigorous evidence-based policy development.
Knee-jerk regulatory responses and call for artificial price hikes may appear well meaning, but if they fail to address the real issues at play, then societal harms will be perpetuated while responsible drinkers are punished.
Improving the awareness and understanding of issues, and alcohol’s part in them, is pivotal to appreciating what role regulation can play in mitigating harms.
The Brewers Association of Australia is dedicated to supporting policy measures to reduce alcohol misuse that work in addressing specific needs.
In addition to providing leadership for beer producers, the Brewers Association of Australia is a member of a number of pan-industry bodies that play a role in influencing the policy and reputation of the sector.
These bodies include:
- The Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code
- Alcohol Beverages Australia
- The Worldwide Brewing Alliance
Striving to provide thought leadership to the wider alcohol sector, the Brewers Association of Australia seeks to ensure that each entity is taking a proactive role in advancing a consistent with the approach taken by the Brewers Association to develop evidence-based and targeted policy and regulation.