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Beer tax needs to be halted to save pubs and mental health

Publican Matt Coorey, who also hold the position of Senior Vice-President of the Queensland Hotels Association (QHA), has expressed his concerns over the significant threat faced by Aussie pubs due to the bi-annual beer tax.

Coorey fears many pubs will go to the wall as the cost of alcohol becomes inhibitive for people in a cost-of-living crisis.

"It's just so hard because if we don't go with [the tax increase] your margins erode and you're basically working for nothing and we don't do that," Coorey told Yahoo News.

"We know with wages and electricity and all the other inputs that have gone up, you can't keep absorbing everything.

"It's a big issue for regional and country publicans. They can't raise the price of a schooner with every CPI rise, plus wages, cost of goods. Cost of food is more out there as well. We've got to remember, out there, people are doing it tough. It costs more to get the beer to the places as well."

Coorey said the situation unfairly impacts Australians who view pubs as places to socialise and seek respite from daily struggles, emphasising the importance of mental health and camaraderie.

"People go to meet and go to offload their problems. It's about mental health, it's about a bloke who wants to call into his local and have two beers with his mates," the former Queensland publican of the year told Yahoo Finance.

Schooner prices have gone up $2 in the past two years, while it could soon cost nearly $20 for a pint.

Coorey debunked the notion that pub owners arbitrarily set high prices.

Despite acknowledging the necessity of fair compensation for staff, he warns that exceeding customers' willingness to pay could jeopardise pub viability.

Meanwhile, Bernie Hogan, CEO of QHA, echoed Coorey’s concerns.

"No one ever complains about looking after good staff but it will get to a point where the price point of where you put a drink on the bar for a new customer is beyond what the customer is willing to pay," he told Yahoo Finance.

The industry has called for an end to tax rises to safeguard both businesses and consumers, with urgent appeals directed towards the government to intervene during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

Australian Hotels Association CEO Stephen Ferguson told Yahoo Finance "This government didn’t cause the problem, but it can freeze these rises during the cost-of-living crisis.”

Previous calls to the Morrison government to halt the tax fell on deaf ears.

Finance Minister Katy Gallagher called the hikes "normal", but did suggest a change would be considered in the coming federal budget.



Jonathan Jackson, 12th February 2024