First they came for the property market, and I did not speak out; because there was no way in Hell I could afford anything to begin with. Then they came for the humble Bunnings snag, and I did not speak out; because I’m usually too hungover to make it out for a sizzle on time, anyway. Now they’ve come for Australian beer prices… and there’s really nothing left to live for. Is there?
2023 has kicked off in remarkably grim fashion after the Australian Tax Office (ATO) raised the excise on the good stuff, both draught and packaged, by another 3.7%. This comes just months after the aforementioned excise was raised by 4% during the ATO’s semi-annual CPI indexation review, bringing the total tax jump to almost 8% over the past six months – the biggest increase in over 30 years.
Effectively, this means starting from February 1st, the average price of a schooner will now be around the $12 benchmark. Bob Hawke is rolling in his grave right now.
“We have seen almost 20 increases in Australia’s beer tax over the past decade alone,” John Preston, Brewers Association of Australia CEO, previously noted.
“Sadly, we’re now seeing the impact as pub patrons will soon be faced with the prospect of regularly paying around $15 for a pint at their local.”
“We don’t think it should be seen as a luxury to come to your local and have a beer in the front bar,” regional NSW publican Alistair Flower recently told ABC.
“After COVID, the one thing we wanted to do was come back to the local and have a beer and that’s becoming harder and harder for people as time goes on.”
“Over the last two years, we’ve done the right thing, followed the government mandates, closed down when we had to and operated under really difficult restrictions,” Tony Fyfe, Co-Owner of Hemmingway’s Brewery in Cairns, said of the Australian beer prices increase all the way back in February 2022.
“This is just another kick in the guts… it’s really, really tough to work with.”
The Brewers Association is now lobbying Treasurer Jim Chalmers to enact a two-year freeze on any further tax increases. But according to 9News, a spokesperson for Chalmers has confirmed no such action is on the immediate horizon.
“This is the usual, automatic indexation change that happens twice a year under governments of both persuasions and it’s not a new decision of this government,” said the spokesperson.
“We listen respectfully to ideas put to us but these have to be weighed up against other priorities and fiscal challenges – with a budget that’s heaving with a trillion dollars of debt.”
Prior to the ATO’s last two hikes, Australians were already shelling out $2.26 in tax per litre of pub-poured grog. While this might seem like a negligible sum, as pointed out by Perth Now, that was almost half of what you’d pay in a typical carton of full-strength beer and 17 times more than the $0.13 you’d pay in Germany.
In 2020, a report conducted by University of Adelaide economist Kym Anderson AC determined Aussies paid the world’s fourth-highest beer tax, only behind Norway, Japan, and Finland. Given the latest development, we may very well be on track to secure the thorned crown.