Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon (centre) with Ironbark Hill Brewhouse owners Andrew and Peter Drayton at the microbrewery’s grand opening on April 28.Hunter MPJoel Fitzgibbon has lodged a motion in parliament calling on the government to better support craft brewers.
Mr Fitzgibbon lodged theprivate members’ motion with Labor colleague Anthony Albanese, whichurged the Federal Government to ensure policy settings encouraged craft brewing and for state and local governments to tailor planning and development controls to enablegrowth in the sector.
Mr Fitzgibbon said craft beer brewers were disadvantaged by an unfair excise tax system. Beer in a 50-litre or greater keg ischarged one level of excise. If it is in a smaller container (most commonly used for craft beer batches), brewers are paying up to 40 per cent more excise than bigger competitors.
With a number of craft brewers in the Hunter, Mr Fitzgibbon said growth in the sector wasa great opportunity to diversify tourism.
He said the burgeoning craft beer scene in the Hunter hadalready provided a boost to the local economy, but would be better supported by a fairer tax rate for producers.
“It is not just about the tax, of course. This is a job-creating proposition,” Mr Fitzgibbon said in his parliamentary speech lastMonday night.
“In my own region in Hunter wine country, we are enjoying new economic diversity. They once just came to sample wine at the cellar door. Then we opened restaurants, so they came for our restaurants as well. Then we moved on to concerts, weddings and balloon rides. Increasingly and very quickly, we are now moving on to beer tasting. That is the sort of diversity you want in any region to cushion you against the shocks.
“Once it would have been sacrilegious to have beers, a brewery and a pub, if you like, in the heart of the Hunter wine country. It is making an enormous difference.”
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