Beer-loving MPs must back St Albo's fire


Bob Hawke beer excise. The Sip

Anthony Albanese couldn’t buy a beer, even if he was the only man in the bar.

Brewers have pulled down the glossy shots of German stainless steel tanks that dot their kitchen walls and replaced them with pictures of the Federal Member for Beer, sorry, Grayndler in NSW. He has quickly become the craft beer poster boy.

The Labor MP has the passion for craft beer. And St Albo’s fire has prompted a parliamentary motion this week calling for the Australian beer industry to get a break. To be precise, a tax break. And there won’t be a soul in the brewing caper who doesn’t believe that should happen.

Albanese’s speech in Canberra got the backing of Liberal rival Tim Wilson, who added in a speech the craft beer segment was responsible for 15,000 jobs.

It was a courageous stance by Wilson, whose last link to craft beer was in March when a small band of outraged beer drinkers wanted to lynch him and Coopers over a media beat-up.

But credit to Wilson for sticking up for the industry at a time when some can feel the winds of reform starting to waft by.

As was confirmed this week ­the push for a change to excise conditions has gained bipartisan support. And Albanese has made it clear the sector needs full backing to get a more level playing field against wine.

The magic line in the debate over beer versus wine taxation debate is that brewers can only claim $30,000 in excise rebates each year yet wineries can access $500,000 in bottom line advantages.

However, the revolution has only started. More need to jump on board. And there are several others that haunt the halls of parliaments in Canberra and Perth who could back the campaign for less red tape in the artisanal brewing sector.

We call them to arms in the fight – the battle known as Go Easy On The Excise.

Andrew Hastie

Some slack must be cut for the WA MP. He was acting as House speaker during St Albo’s fire. However, Hastie and Wilson unwittingly kickstarted the year's biggest "storm in a stubby" with their appearance in a Bible Society video, pic below, featuring a Coopers beer. Or was the outrage because Coopers give donations to Hastie’s political party? Anyway, Hastie could help iron out all the misconceptions by giving his thumbs up to Go Easy On The Excise revolution.

Bob Hawke

While the Silver Bodgie has unfortunately been portrayed in the media recently for what can only be considered irresponsible consumption of alcohol, he has been a passionate supporter of the brew – predominantly not during his days as PM when he rode the wagon. Hawke, also in top picture, might have looked like the title cast member from Weekend At Bernies when wheeled out for the launch of a beer in his name earlier this year but he still retains strong contacts in Canberra. Plus he owes us. It was his government that introduced automatic beer excise increases during the 1980s.

Tony Abbott

Another who didn’t set a great example by being caught dropping a middy in six seconds at a university pub party three years ago. Yet if the former Australia Pty Ltd chief executive has a passion for a brew then it is only just that he also becomes part of the Go Easy On The Excise movement. Unless he’s backing onion farmers. Onions and beer don’t mix.

Pauline Hanson

You can almost hear the collective groan from readers whenever their eyes see this name. Sure, the Senator seems to have become the nightly Canberra press punching bag. However, when it comes to beer she likes one. In May she claimed a desire to start her own craft beer line. And because she will be in the Upper House for another five years – as well as holding some voting influence – then the industry might as well work with her on the beer issue. If Hanson is a small brewer, too, she would be very supportive of the Go Easy On The Excise. They can think whatever they like about her other policies but if she can help beer, use her power.

Bill Shorten

After bagging two former Prime Ministers for being caught by the brew police for unreasonable use of a middy of beer it would be cruel to criticise the attempt of the Leader of the Opposition. It took him a mammoth 16 seconds to down his lager. He should never have tried. It wasn’t a great look. But Shorten can redeem himself in the eyes of Aussie beer drinkers by taking on the Go Easy On The Excise cause and giving them wallet relief at the bar.