At $2.26 per litre for packaged beer, Australians pay 17 times more beer tax than Germany ($0.13), 15 times more than Spain ($0.15), seven times more than the US ($0.31), six times more than Canada ($0.35), 4.5 times more than France and Italy ($0.50) and approaching double that of New Zealand ($1.26). Australians pay one-third more than the UK ($1.52).
Australians also pay the third-highest liquor taxes in the world with about 57 per cent of the retail price on a bottle of whisky or gin a tax.
Several lockdowns across the country banned pubs and clubs from trading for months last year and in short periods this year, which fuelled a widespread layoff of workers. Pubs reported a decline of 71 per cent in turnover nationally between March to June 2020 last year.
Australian Hotel Association chief executive Stephen Ferguson said governments must do everything possible to enable recovery through consumer activity. He said the six-monthly increase was a virtual payroll tax for the federal government and it would inevitably lead to a drop in employment and other economic activity.
“This is about easing cost of living pressures and supporting jobs. Australians pay amongst the highest excise rates in the world,” Mr Ferguson said.
He said the freeze would also provide support to local craft brewers and distillers, many of whom are providing jobs in regional and remote locations.
“Those with cellar door operations often play a key role in the tourism industry in those regional destinations,” he said.
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said this week the government’s focus remained on the rollout of the vaccine and the economic response and recovery, with the December quarter showing that the Australian economy grew by 3.1 per cent.
“We’re not through this crisis yet,” Mr Frydenberg said. “There’s still a long way to go. It’s going to be a bumpy, hard road, particularly with JobKeeper coming to an end in March. But you wouldn’t want to be in any other country but Australia right now.”