Battle of the beer prices: Will a price hike stop bingeing?

IN-DEPTH research with beer drinkers at the Tannum Sands Hotel backs up what the brewers also believe - a push to increase the price of beer won't stop people drinking.

Yesterday, Luke Beale, Gary O'Keeffe and Grant Bourdot all agreed that while they might have a whinge about beer prices, they weren't about to let it get in the way of their favourite ritual.

Beer is no longer a bottom shelf drink and calls to increase the price further, through increased taxes, has upset brewers.

Any attempt to raise beer prices through higher taxes is "misguided, lazy and flawed" according to the Brewer's Association of Australia.

CEO Brett Heffernan said the reality is that beer is Australia is not cheap.

"Any Aussie venturing overseas who has slicked their thirst with a cleansing ale knows we pay a premium for beer in Australia," he said.

"Why? Great question."

Australians pay amongst the highest excise on beer in the world, then a further 10% in GST.

In 2017, taxes on beer drinkers netted the Australian Government almost $2.4 billion.

"In fact, research from the University of Adelaide in 2014 shows that, in Australia, beer is taxed at more than twice the OECD average," Mr Heffernan said.

"Australians pay over seven times more than Argentina, Belgium, Chile and Poland , over six times more than Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands and South Africa, almost five times more than Italy and Greece, double the beer excise paid in the USA and almost double that of New Zealand . "Of the $47.99 retail price of a typical 24-carton of full-strength beer, $15.08 of that price is tax. It means the single most expensive ingredient in beer is Australian Government tax. Tax accounts for almost one-third (31%) of the total price of a carton of full-strength beer.

"But wait, there's more.

"The excise on beer in Australia is automatically increased by the Australian Government every six months, so the price of beer is always going up and up and up."

Mr Heffernan said price was not a pressure point for people who misused alcohol.

"It penalises the vast majority who drink responsibly, while doing nothing for those few at risk of harm," he said.

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