New tax threatens to shut yet another Qld brewery
THE frothing founders of an award-winning craft beer brewery say a shock new State Government "beer tax" could spill them over into closure.
Black Hops Brewing's Fire and Emergency Services Levy has jumped ten-fold from $2500 to more than $25,000 this financial year.
Ironically, the government has fashioned a new levy category for breweries based on floor space to prevent smaller brewers being hit with the highest $90,000 levy - but it's resulting in soaring charges for some operations.
Black Hops co-founders Dan Norris and Eddie Oldfield fear the Gold Coast's flourishing microbrewery sector will be devastated because of it.
Opposition Member for Bonney Sam O'Connor said the increase was essentially "just a craft beer tax".
He said the brewery was now "in the same (levy) category as a small hospital".
"It just makes absolutely no sense," he said.
"They've created a specific regulation for breweries up to 15,000 sqm, which no craft brewery would get even near.
"It's completely ridiculous and has no justification."
Mr O'Connor said most brewers would likely have levies increased from $529 to $5224.
Mr Norris said there was no consultation.
"For us, it could mean $25,000. We've got five different leases across our two sites (at Burleigh Heads and Biggera Waters)," he said.
"It would have to mean increasing the price of beer. Unfortunately, our consumers are calling out for better priced beer - it's very expensive to make beer in Australia."
Mr Norris said Black Hops "doesn't just have $25,000 laying around" and whether the brewer would survive "depends on when we're hit with it".
"There's been times throughout the last three years when we didn't have any money to scratch together, so $25,000 is a huge amount to a business like this," he said.
"The craft beer industry has really been caught off guard by this. The industry is firing up."
Mr Norris said brewers had been "kind of excited about" the Craft Beer Strategy released by State Government late last year.
"We were thinking maybe they would get behind us and this is the first major thing to come out since then," he said.
"We've been hit for six with this one. It's rare to make stuff in Australia anymore and this is something we should be encouraging."
Shadow Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Lachlan Millar said the levy increase
was not fair and the government was "trying to rake in as much money as they possibly can".
"(Black Hops) is a fantastic business. Why would you want to continue increasing taxes on hardworking people who are just trying to have a go?" he said.
"We're trying to get these businesses created around the Gold Coast and the Hinterland to employ more people.
"The last thing we need is the Labor Government to come here and tax them."
Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Craig Crawford was contacted for comment but failed to respond by deadline.