Freeze grog taxes
30 April 2020
SALES plummet, consumption follows... it's not rocket science. Your piece "Brewers in trouble as sales dry up" (NT News, April 29) makes some good points about the plight of the beer sector, but the assertion that "spending on alcohol has skyrocketed" is simply wrong.
Across the board alcohol sales in Australia have plummeted. Beer is a good barometer, with sales down 35 per cent.
Pubs and clubs make up 30 per cent of beer sales in Australia. That has been obliterated. The shift to liquor stores spiked in March when people feared closures, but not enough to offset the loss of hospitality. Retail sales have plummeted ever since.
Having a drink in Australia is a social activity. Watching the footy with mates, a few beers after work at the pub or a family barbecue on the weekend. The shutdown ended all of that.
The idea that people are hibernating and drinking themselves senseless makes for great headlines, but goes no deeper.
The call for tax rebates for small brewers isn't the answer. The perpetual handout being sought by high-cost niche brewers is distortionary, rewards mediocrity and does nothing for punters.
Governments of all persuasions learned that lesson through the rebate afforded the wine industry in 2000 - a costly disaster governments try to windback and are loath to repeat.
The best thing government can do for all involved - brewers, punters and hospitality on its knees - is freeze the next round of beer tax increases for a year. We can all drink to that!
Brewers Association of Australia
This letter was published in the NT News on 30 April 2020.
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