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Launch of Parliamentary Friends of Australian Spirits

This week the Australian distillers association launched the Parliamentary Friends of Australian Spirits. The theme of the event, and the whole week, was Creating Jobs from Farm to the Glass.
 
The Friendship Group is Co-Chaired by Brian Mitchell MP and Senator Perin Davey. Please see below for some excerpts from their addresses.
 
We also have representatives from some amazing Australian Producers and distributors including
  • David and Luke Ridden from Grandad Jacks
  • Hayden Woods from Drinks Network
  • Glenn McPhee from the Gin Boutique
  • David Whittaker and Vanessa Wilton from Manly Spirits
  • Chris Pratt from Larrikin Gin
  • Cameron Brett from Spring Bay Distillery
  • Kristy Lark from Killara Distillery
  • Stephen Parry from Pattex the makers of Section 44 Gin
  • Russ Watson from Bellarine Distillery
  • Matt Hobson from CAVU
  • Amanda Lampe from Bunbaberg
  • Geoff Bainbridge from Lark Distillery
We also had as guests from Spirits and Cocktails Australia
  • Angus McPherson
  • Sarah Nichols
  • Bryan Fry
  • Mark Hill
  • Greg Holland
We had white and Dark Spirits from every state across Australia including gin made with ethically sourced green ants from Northern Territory in the north to Section 44 in the south, White Pearl Gin from Broome in the West to Starward Whisky in the East and lots more in between. Thank you to the distillers from around the country who sent their valuable products. We had more than 50 different selections to choose from on the evening.

There have always been spirits in Australia. From the early days of the Rum Rebellion to today where we have more than 300 local distillers.Whilst we have had amazing growth, the industry is at a tipping point. The tax on Spirits in Australia are out of control. Our friendship group is not just about tax. It is about supporting Australian manufacturing and supporting the two hardest industries hit by COVID- Hospitality and tourism. Scroll down for some of the photos from the night.
See below an excerpt from the speech by Brian Mitchell MP to the Friendship Group.

"I would like to welcome all my parliamentary colleagues, including many who’ve joined the group. There’s a lot of love in this place for Aussie spirits and their contribution to our regional communities, employment and economies.
Welcome to Stu Gregor President of Australian Distillers Association, owner of Four Pillars and 2-time world gin champ. Thanks Stu for bringing tonight together.
And an especially big welcome to the distillers, a robust and fearsome lot. Who else would forge ahead with a business plan that sees taxes rise every 6 months, whether you sell a drop or not.
It’s great to see some familiar faces here – Cam from Spring Bay on Tassie’s east coast and Kristy from Killara, just outside Richmond, literally 10 minutes down the road from my place. Kristy is also the president of the Australian Women in Distilling Association and is itching to get overseas to complete her Churchill fellowship.
I urge distillers here to chat with Members and Senators about the opportunities and challenges facing this exciting sector. All of us here want to see Australian spirits grow and prosper.
So where are we at right now?
There are more than 300 distillers spread across 84 electorates, supporting 5000 direct jobs.
In my electorate there are more than 20 and growing. They range from micro-distillers to a new operation under construction by John Ibrahim that is injecting $30 million into the Southern Midlands town of Oatlands.
Two-thirds of Australian distillers are in rural and regional areas, bringing important economic benefits through job creation, agricultural support, regional tourism and hospitality.
They buy the best local produce, attract tourists and create jobs, both within  their operations and through related services and supply chains.
One example is the growth of Kolmark in Westbury, a local fabricator making a global name for itself turning out stills that rival the best in the world. Well done to Mark, Tim and the team.
And there’s Tasmanian Cask Company, a cooperage in Bridgewater that struggles to keep up with the burgeoning demand for barrels. They do a terrific job.
In closing, I just note the ADA and Spirits and Cocktails Australia have lodged a pre-budget submission that calls for fair and sustainable tax reform, to what is the third highest taxation regime in the world.
I urge my colleagues on all sides of the aisle to read it. I certainly support the industry’s call for reform, which will grow the sector even further and create more jobs and opportunities in our regions.
Finally, thank you to my team, particularly Darren and Lara, for working with Stu and Paul and the team from the ADA for bringing this event together, and thanks to Greg and the team at SCA for their assistance. Many thanks to all who have travelled to get here.
In the words of WC Fields: Always carry a flagon of whisky in case of snakebite, and furthermore always carry a small snake.
The snakes are on the move right now. It shouldn’t be hard to find one."
 
See below an excerpt from the speech by Senator Perin Davey to the Friendship Group.

I know Brian Mitchell has had a lot to say about distilleries in Tasmania, however it is New South Wales which is the ‘Gold Standard’
Here tonight serving us drinks tonight we have from Sydney, Manly Spirits and Archie Rose
However it would not surprise many to hear that I want to mention our regional distilleries where we do see local jobs supported from farm to glass.
Up the North Coast there is the Cape Byron Distillery which produces the international award winning Brookie’s Byron Dry Gin
In the Central West near Orange is the family-owned Jones and Smith Distillery and their signature dry gin which I strongly recommend
Further south in Griffith is the Aisling Distillery producing premier single malt whiskey’s
Towards our Victorian border at Corrowa we have both the Corowa distillery and Golden Lion distillery
In Jindabyne on the Snowy Mountains we have Wildbrumby producing phenomenal Butterscotch Schnapps being produced using pink lady apples sourced from Batlow
This is the emerging story across Regional New South Wales, distilleries many small and family owned using local produce popping up in places ranging from the South Coast to New England.

Tax reform
  • One issue I’m sure they will raise and it’s been raised to me is for us to have a look at the excises we apply to spirits produced in Australia and how it compares to other alcoholic beverages and imported products
  • Australians are maturing their tastes and with regards to spirits are looking more at quality than quantity, especially the ones we produce here
  • What I’ve found and I’m sure many of you will find its time to have another look and I certainly appreciate the work of the Australian Distilleries Association on what reform could look like and what it could achieve
Conclusion
  • We want to help the distilleries we have grow, expand, export overseas and see investment into our local communities through this great industry

Spirits in Australia Week

This week the Federal Parliament celebrated Spirits in Australia Week.

Australian Distillers Association partnered with Spirits and Cocktails Australia to make a joint Pre-Budget Submission which called for Fair and Sustainable Tax Reform. Our demand from Government is to raise the tax rebate from $100,000 to $350,000 and reduce the headline rate marginally and freeze it to stop the tax increasing twice every year which compounds the disparity between Spirits and other alcoholic beverages.

The current tax regime for Australian Alcohol is crazy and out of step.

We met with over 30 Members of Parliament including Ministers to go through our submission in detail and will continue the lobbying efforts right up until the May budget. We were able to use the case studies and survey data that many members helped us put together.

Our case was compelling and it was warmly received because there are now over 300 distilleries in 84 electorates around the country. We are creating jobs from farm to glass.

Positive media backed up our campaign including a comprehensive story in the Australian Newspaper, mentions elsewhere in the Australian and Sydney Morning Herald. President Stu Gregor appeared live on Ben Fordham show on 2GB and was interviewed on Sky News.

It has been an exciting week and I encourage you to thanks all of the Members who travelled to Canberra to showcase the innovative and intriguing products that were able to capture the imagination of the MPs and Senators at the launch. Many thanks to those Members who sent bottles that were able to offer samples and tastings as well. When combined, there were over 50 products available for sample and they were all imbibed responsibly and lovingly.
 
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