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Winemakers and brewers welcome Government ruling on non spirit based alcopops

The Federal Government’s decision to amend its alcopops tax bill to include ‘malternatives’ – ready-to-mix drinks made from the alcohol extracted from wine or beer — has been welcomed by the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) and the Brewers Association of Australia and New Zealand (BAANZ).

Although the tax on pre-mixed alcoholic drinks was raised by 70% last year in an effort to curb binge drinking among young people, the legislation validating that decision is yet to be passed. Since the introduction of the tax, a number of products manufactured with ethanol stripped down from wine or beer have appeared on the market that circumvent the legislation.

The legislative amendments narrow the definitions of ‘beer’ and ‘wine’ for excise and customs purposes and specify where the line between beer, wine and alcopops should be drawn.

WFA chief executive Stephen Strachan said, “Our members are proud local producers of quality wine. The wine sector is made up of 2300 winemakers, 7500 grapegrowers and 60,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country. We are happy to leave the manufacture of pre-mixed products to spirits manufacturers.”

BAANZ executive director Stephen Swift added, “Our Australian members have been brewing since before Federation itself. They have strong business links to the local malting barley and hops farming communities. Australia’s brewers have resolved not to use ethanol stripped from beer as the base for alcopops.”

Last year, both organisations forwarded separate policy proposals to Treasury which sought to end the ‘passing off’ of alcopops as beer or wine for taxation purposes.

Yesterday’s legislative response is largely consistent with those proposals, thus providing certainty for Australia’s traditional local industries.



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