Tasmanian Hospitality Review - February / March 2023


Death and taxes – they’re labelled the two guarantees in life. And as we kick-off 2023 it is the annual, silent version of the latter which is again impacting our hospitality venues at a time when cost of living pressures are already putting a great strain on profitability and viability. In Australia, we pay the fourth highest beer tax in the world. It is a tax which is quietly increased twice a year, and has done for the last 36 years. But now it is becoming a ridiculous burden on bar, pub and restaurant owners. On February 1, a 3.7 per cent tax increase was introduced by the Federal Government, which affects draught as well as packaged beer. This hike came on top of the four per cent increase in August. The tax hikes, linked to inflation, mean beer drinkers are now paying $1.50 more tax per slab, 6.5 cents per pint and nearly five cents per schooner than last July. Australian beer taxes are rising at the fastest rate in more than 30 years and if a similar increase is passed on in another six months, the country will overtake Japan into third place on the global beer tax table. Only Scandinavian countries Finland and Norway pay more tax on beer.

Almost $20 of the price of every slab and 90 cents of every pint heads to Canberra, again at a time when publicans are facing the double edged sword of their own increasing utility bills and the average punter having less disposable income to spend. And this increase is already having an impact on consumption, with Treasury last October forced to revise down the amount of beer tax it expected to gather by $30 million to $2.65 billion this financial year. Continued tax hikes could soon lead to a pint costing $15 in a pub or club. It is something that will cripple venue operators, who have often absorbed this tax to keep the taps flowing to patrons but will struggle to keep doing so. We should be encouraging people back into our venues – especially on the back of the recovery from two years of Covid – not forcing their hand with exorbitant prices. I for one certainly support recent calls asking the government to consider freezing the tax on packaged beer in bottle shops for two years and halving the tax paid on tap beer in this year’s budget. Whether the officials in Canberra listen remains to be seen, but we will be ensuring our voice is well and truly heard.

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