Finance Consumer $15 pints? Coming right up – as beer tax rises again
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$15 pints? Coming right up – as beer tax rises again

Beer tax leaps by three-decade high

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Beer drinkers are the latest Australians to cop a cost-of-living hit, with the price of a pint expected to hit $15 thanks to a tax slug.

Brewers Association of Australia chief executive John Preston said the latest rise was due to biannual indexation from Monday, which has brought a 4 per cent tax rise on beer.

“Australia’s tax on beer is going up yet again, with today’s increase being the largest in more than 30 years,” he said.

“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.”

Beer excise rises twice a year, usually on February 1 and August 1, by a rate paired to inflation. Monday’s hike will also mean tax on a carton of beer rises by 80 cents to $18.80.

“Australians are taxed on beer more than almost any other nation. We have seen almost 20 increases in Australia’s beer tax over the past decade alone,” Mr Preston said.

“For a small pub, club or other venue the latest tax hike will mean an increase of more than $2,700 a year in their tax bill – at a time when they are still struggling to deal with the on-going impacts of the pandemic.

He said brewers, pubs and club operators were disappointed the former Coalition government did not deliver a tax cut in its March budget.

“This is a problem that the new Treasurer [Jim Chalmers] has inherited from his predecessors and there are many competing demands on the budget,” he said.

“Nonetheless, we believe there is a strong case for beer tax relief to be provided by the new federal government – with the hidden beer tax to go up again in February 2023.”

However, the appeal for a cut to beer tax isn’t universal.

In March there were reports that then treasurer Josh Frydenberg was considering slashing the excise by half. But health organisations and professionals, led by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, signed an open letter arguing against such a move.

“Any reductions to the price of alcoholic products would be absolutely devastating, at a time when we are seeing increases in the many harms from alcohol that negatively impact on far too many Australians,” the letter said.

They described their strong opposition to any move to reduce the price of alcohol.

One of the signatories, the RACGP’s chair of specific interests addiction medicine, Dr Hester Wilson, agreed any drop in the price of alcohol would have negative health impacts.

“I’m seeing so many people who are drinking more [since the pandemic began],” Dr Wilson, who signed the letter as a private GP, told newsGP.

“It just beggars belief that they are asking for tax breaks because they are having a tough time. It’s just the most extraordinary thing.”

Resources Minister Madeleine King refused to comment on the possibility of beer tax relief in the Albanese government’s looming October budget.

“I like a beer myself. I will have to leave that with the Treasurer to comment on,” she said on Monday.