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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 1035


Mr EWEN JONES (Herbert) (18:33): I rise to speak in favour of the motion moved by the member for Lyne. Microbreweries are an important niche in Australia. We have a brewery in Townsville. It is more of a boutique brewery. A brewer and a worker in a brewery cost the same whether they are working for Lion Nathan, SABMiller or the Townsville Brewery. The production costs are extraordinarily outclassed. While Lion Nathan will do 100 million litres of beer per year, Townsville Brewery will do about 200,000. So the economy of scale and the cost per unit production is just so much. The Townsville Brewery, run by Peter Summers, is trying to go from being a quaint little tourist attraction and supplying local restaurants and a couple of niche hotels to also supplying bottle shops, to take that next step. It is a major punt by anyone trying to get into small business at the best of times, but getting into something that is so dominated by the giants of beer in Queensland is even harder. The member for Lyne said 'No beer jokes please,' but up there we call VB 'green death'—it is outlawed; it is visitors' beer; it is very bad. We are the home of XXXX Bitter, the world's greatest beer. I will not do the Wally Lewis ad.

My brewery in Townsville wants to provide a quality product. Their products include Ned's Red, Townsville Bitter, Belgian Blonde, Lager Lout, Digger's Golden Ale and Bandido Loco. They do the full gamut of beers. They are trying to not only provide a bit of local interest but develop a business. Increasing the excise return or increasing tax benefits to brewers, as wineries receive, would play a significant part in them being able to compete and take that next step. Whilst I appreciate the rebate on 30,000 litres, at 200,000 litres or even a million litres it would still only be one per cent of what a major brewer would be putting out in the market. On a scale of one to 10 of how it is going to hurt the economy, we are not talking big bickies.

Whilst I have the floor, I would like to say a couple things. While the government has done nothing to help microbreweries in the last four years, changes like those outlined in the motion would have a significant and positive impact on breweries like my brewery in Townsville. It is the difference between being able to sell their beer locally to restaurants and something more. The Townsville brewery is in the process of expanding their brewing capacity. Peter Summers has recently come to me with some red tape issues and red tape is the killer of all business. In this instance, to take that next step he has to install a bottling facility. It is Chinese made and required a Chinese engineer to come and install it. The absurd bureaucracy that is in place at the moment on immigration left the brewery floundering with painful production losses. They had to outlay the cash to buy the thing and bring it in here but they simply could not access staff to come into the country to put the thing together and get it to work. At every turn we say we are in favour of small business, and at every turn we say we are trying to get small businesses its just desserts, but at every turn we put up another hurdle in front of small business. The people in small business at the moment are saying they are tax collectors first. They are working in their business, not on their business. The problem was eventually solved, but not before a lot of toing and froing and a lot of lost capacity.

I support the member for Lyne on this issue and I believe that what we are trying to do in Australia is create a finer art of what beer actually is. We are now an international beer drinking nation. It is not that you are stuck with one brand for life. I do not mind South Australian beer. I love Tasmanian beer. New South Wales and Victorian beers still leave me a bit cold. Queensland beer is still the best in the world. We should be doing everything we can to support these industries because they do bring so much to regional communities.