A schooner for $10? The latest beer tax hike is likely to make this a reality

beer tax

PRIME MINISTER ANTHONY ALBANESE AT THE BOB HAWKE BEER AND LEISURE CENTRE IN SYDNEY (IMAGE: AAP/PAUL BRAVEN)

We were fine when inflation came for our spinach. We held strong when the price went up on our fuel. But how are Australians going to cope when the latest beer tax increase brings the price of a pint up to $15?

The biannual indexation that came in on Monday will result in Australia’s beer excise tax making its biggest jump in 30 years, with prices set to increase by 4%, or $2.50 a litre.

You might make some savings by skipping the pub for the bottle shop, but you can’t escape it entirely: taxes on a slab are rising to $18.80 too, a hike of about 80 cents. It’s unclear when these increases will be passed on to consumers in pubs or the bottle-o.

Brewers Association CEO John Preston is asking the Albanese government for some relief, claiming that Australia is taxed more on beer than almost any other nation.

“We have seen almost 20 increases in Australia’s beer tax over the past decade alone,” Preston said.

“Sadly, we’re now seeing the effect as pub patrons will soon be faced with the prospect of regularly paying around $15 for a pint at their local.”

Or — for the majority of you that drink schooners, rather than an English pint — that’d take an $8 schooie up to around $8.30, which is likely to be rounded up to $9 or even $10.

Preston said this is going to have a devastating impact on venues just coming back from COVID-19, but acknowledged that this was a tax inherited from the former government.

“Brewers and pub and club operators were extremely disappointed the former government did not deliver on a proposed reduction in beer tax at this year’s March budget.”

Morrison’s beer tax cut debacle

So why didn’t the Morrison government end up slashing the beer tax again?

Cast your mind back to the pre-election days of early 2022 when then prime minister Scott Morrison was clutching at straws to stay in power and suggested a 50% cut to the beer tax in the March budget.

There was pushback from many (including Crikey), saying that this tax cut would overwhelmingly benefit men — not a good look for a government that, as we were about to find out in a very dramatic way, had a massive woman problem.

On top of that, a number of organisations and health professionals signed an open letter addressed to then treasurer Josh Frydenberg, arguing against any alcohol tax cuts for health reasons.

So what does Jim Chalmers say about it all? He has said he’ll look at potential relief, but makes absolutely no promises.

Labor’s war on workers?

Some punters have been quick to take a very Sky News-esque line and say that this is all part and parcel for the new “progressive Left elites”.

And, hey, given the tax increase comes at the same time that the ultimate hipster food, avocados, are hitting an all-time low price in Australia, they might be onto something…

But in reality, a tinnie of Newtowner is going to be taxed too — and the Australian government has been hitting Aussies hard with excise charges, import duties, taxes and exemptions on all forms of alcohol since Federation.

This article was first published by Crikey.

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