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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.

Barnaby Joyce

The Sip can reveal the Deputy Prime Minister came out of the craft beer cupboard some time ago. Spies spotted Joyce at the launch of Eumundi Lager earlier this year on the Sunshine coast. And only this month, calling on his drinking experience, Joyce confronted Coalition MPs with his concerns over the 18C race hate laws by saying, “It is definitely not the issue people are talking about in the beer garden on Friday night ...," he said. So if beer is so much part of the conversation, Joyce has to back our populist campaign.

Mark McGowan

We know. McGowan can’t do anything about excise as a State Premier. He can, however, help with red tape for breweries, allowing them to be more profitable and create jobs. And after his mid-strength-beer-only stance for the new Perth Stadium he has to provide the local industry a few free rounds. He also backed craft brewing by hosting his post-election win drinks at the Northbridge Brewing Company. We’re told he even pulled a few from the tap for his future cabinet. That’s the government variety, not where the drinks are stored.

Andrew Laming

Who? Yes it wasn’t until he combined calisthenics with drinking that many found out Laming was a Liberal MP from Queensland. What is about politicians and their unsafe beer drinking practices? For his crime we would expect Laming’s office would be shortly sending a cheque to the Go Easy On The Excise campaign fund.

So if you get the chance to bump into a politician who spends an amount of time in Canberra remind them about the revolution.

Australian brewing and the tireless workers behind our favourite beers deserve all the help they can get.

*No Greens MPs were harmed in the making of the story.

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