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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 1036

Mr ADAMS (Lyons) (18:38): I support this motion on microbrewing in Australia that has been brought before the House by the honourable member for Lyne. I moved a similar motion on this issue on 16 March 2009. This issue has not gone away. It is still here and it is still going on. The member for Herbert has just outlined the concerns within his electorate. I have five microbreweries in my electorate of Lyons. If we are to promote innovation in Australia, as the other two members have spoken about, we need to allow microbrewers to compete on an equal footing with boutique wineries, which are their competition. It is not really the big brewers—Boag's or Cascade in Tasmania—that the microbrewers are competing with. It is really about the people who drink with their lifestyle.

Microbrewers are suffering disadvantage because they pay considerably more tax than equivalent small wineries within the same region or within other regions. I do not believe they are asking for special treatment; they are just asking for equal treatment. I do not believe they are in the same argument as alcopops or anything like that, where it involves a bulk-buying exercise and drinking lots of alcohol, which causes the problems that we see within our electorates and especially around the major cities. It is an issue that has to be dealt with, as is bulk buying and advertising aimed at the young.

The main concern for microbrewers is the complexities and inequities of the tax system in relation to alcoholic beverages. I remember looking at this when I first moved a motion a few years ago. Excise taxes go back a long way, when you start thinking about Scotland and the whiskies. But it is a major issue for rural and regional Australia. They are major employers. They employ people and bring people into our area. In my state we get a cheese factory, a microbrewery and a small winery, which can turn around a region in good time. I am very concerned and we need to act on this.

There are seven microbreweries in Tasmania, five in my electorate. They value-add to farm produce. Some of them are primary producers, producing more than just beer. They produce on-farm stuff and value-add. I went to a microbrewery not long ago and saw the barley growing on the other side of the hill. It is a pretty special thing to be able to grow the barley near the brewery and bring it down and malt it and make the beer. They also grew beef and other produce there.

Tourism is coming along. A meadery is being built and there is also a hop garden. The old hops are part of the tourism opportunities around a microbrewery. So there are very productive and innovative projects adding to the economy in Tasmania, as we have heard from members from other parts of our country. We need to build on this. The government have not been backward. I understand that the government have assisted and they are very sympathetic to the arguments being put forward. I understand there has been some reform in the small business sector here. They used to have to pay excise within seven days, but they can now get it out to 21 days or 51 days. That is a plus. We are also broadly delivering value tax relief to about 2.7 million Australian small businesses. There is also the issue of the mining tax, which will give opportunities for small business to write down assets of $6,500. (Time expired)