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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 1037

Mrs ANDREWS (McPherson) (18:43): I welcome the opportunity to speak on this motion. Microbreweries are unique and important businesses in Australia. They are very valuable to our economic growth. These breweries also provide significant job opportunities across Australia, both directly and indirectly: directly through production, sales, marketing and administration and, indirectly, they play a role through the tourism industry by attracting business to their brewing facilities through tours and taste testing.

Microbrewers are often referred to as craft brewers. They produce a fairly limited amount of beer—around 30,000 litres per year, although that is not a hard and fast definition. From a consumer perspective, they are known for their uniqueness in taste and marketing and for their innovation. These craft brewers are the classic Australian manufacturers, making local products for a local market, although of course the export market remains a viable option as always. Within my electorate of McPherson, on the Gold Coast, I am fortunate enough to have a microbrewery, which supports our local economy and helps contribute to a great niche industry throughout Australia. The microbrewery is of course the Burleigh Brewing Co. It is one of the leading microbreweries in Queensland and is the Gold Coast's only craft brewery. Burleigh Brewing Co. combines tradition and innovation in brewing a variety of beers. I must make special note of one of their gold-medal-winning beers, known as My Wife's Bitter—it deserves special mention just for its name.

In 2006 the Burleigh Brewing Co. was launched by local husband-and-wife team Brennan and Peta Fielding. Brennan is the brew master at Burleigh Brewing Co. and provides one of the vital ingredients to their success. He has over 20 years experience, including time as an international judge. It is a tribute to this local business that its beers have won so many awards, including four world championship gold medals for four different beers in its line-up, which is a fantastic achievement. It is great to see a local manufacturer recognised for its achievements. This local business brand has been described as a cross between 'monk-like tradition', in deference to the European monks who brewed many beers, and 'cool surfing living', so it is very Gold Coast unique.

The Gold Coast is of course filled with manufacturers and businesses which epitomise the ambition and success that we applaud in Australian small businesses. As a local brewery, the Burleigh Brewing Co. uses all Australian made packaging and employs 12 locals in its facility at Burleigh. I have had the opportunity to visit this facility on a number of occasions and it is most impressive. I have spoken to them and to other brewers and have really spent a lot of time trying to work through with them what the issues for their businesses are. I will speak to some of those very briefly. According to the company's own figures, beer excise now represents approximately $12 to $15 per carton of their craft beer. Based on these figures, and given the downward price pressure on the Australian beer market and the rate of excise growth over the last couple of decades, that represents about 25 per cent to 30 per cent of the company's revenue. That is a significant hit to them. The excise is payable by the brewer the minute that the beer leaves the brewery and well before the brewery has been paid for its beer. An excise report has to be prepared and paid every single week, which is a huge administrative and cash flow burden to these smaller breweries.

From the customer side, the Australian brewing market is now dominated by two major chains: Coles and Woolworths. For small suppliers in the markets this has a couple of significant effects. There is very little price elasticity for the brewers to raise their wholesale price at the same rate that the beer excise increases, because the chains are able and in a good position to put downward pressure on prices. There is no room for the smaller suppliers to negotiate terms of trade, with 90 days being the norm. This is a big issue for the microbreweries and is one that I have been delighted to speak on tonight.

Debate adjourned.