A Horsham publican says a proposed tax hike on beer could not come at a worse time for the struggling hospitality industry.
Tax on beer increased by more than $2 a litre (up four per cent) on Monday, from $53.59 per litre of alcohol to $55.73.
The price increase represents the biggest jump in beer tax for more than 30 years.
Exchange Hotel owner and Australian Hotels Association Representative Nick Murray said many of the businesses impacted by the rise were still recovering from the effects of the pandemic.
"It is disgraceful, one nail after another from the government," he said.
"The sentiment is that timing couldn't be worse when we are suffering from things like critical staff shortages, the lingering effects of the pandemic and an exodus from the industry."
Tax on the cost of a keg jumped by $4, raising the cost to almost $74.
Mr Murray said while the increase may seem small, at an estimated five to 10 cent increase for each pot, it could potentially add up to $100 in costs for small country venues a week.
"Pubs are on a paper-thin margin as is, we can't carry the extra cost and it will be passed on for sure. That is no fault of any of the operators," he said.
The peak body for Australian Brewer has also called on the government to provide beer tax relief.
Brewers Association of Australia chief executive John Preston said the excise increase may result in $15 pints becoming commonplace.
"Australians are taxed on beer more than almost any other nation. We have seen almost 20 increases in Australia's beer tax over the past decade alone.
"Sadly, we're now seeing the impact as pub patrons will soon be faced with the prospect of regularly paying around $15 for a pint at their local.
"For a small pub, club or other venue the latest tax hike will mean an increase of more than $2,700 a year in their tax bill - at a time when they are still struggling to deal with the on-going impacts of the pandemic.
"This is a problem that the new Treasurer has inherited from his predecessors and there are many competing demands on the Budget. Nonetheless, we believe there is a strong case for beer tax relief to be provided by the new Federal Government - with the hidden beer tax to go up again in February 2023."
However, not all beer retailers will be affected by the price rise - with small brewers able to access a 100 per cent rebate on the excise.
Stawell-based Grampians Ale Works was one of the brewers to be able to access this rebate.
Owner Shawna Dominelli said although they would not be affected, she predicted some pubs may pass costs onto their customers.
"As eligible brewers and distillers we are able to receive a full rebate of any excise we pay up to an annual cap of $350,000," she said. said.
"Certainly the tax increase will affect the industry, brewers and distillers may reduce their production to ensure they remain under the annual cap.
"Retailers will also be hit with increase prices, this includes local pubs who will pass on this expense to their customers."
Ms Dominelli encouraged people to support their local, to help keep prices steady.
"We are fortunate as producers we are essentially exempt from the excise because we keep our production volume low and the prices for a beer at our venue will remain the same," she said.
"Support your local brewers and distillers, by purchasing your beer and spirits directly from them, this will help keep prices steady at their venues."
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