Subjects: Labor’s support for craft beer industry, launch of Inner West Brewers Association
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks everyone for coming. It’s fantastic to be here at Batch Brewing Co. here in Marrickville in the inner west. The inner west is of course the heartland now of craft brewing, not just in Sydney, but I believe in Australia, and I’m very proud of that fact.
This is an industry that is growing massively. It’s an industry where we now have more than 400 craft brewers around Australia and that growth means that local jobs have been created. We’re seeing small businesses; we’re seeing communities gathering on weekends and after work to have a chat in their local communities, supporting a product and jobs in those local communities.
Craft brewing though has thrived in spite of the fact that governments, in my view, aren’t doing enough to provide assistance. At the moment there’s discrimination in favour of the big brewers versus these local small business craft brewers.
Because of the way that the tax excise system works there’s favour given to big kegs rather than smaller kegs, which is the way that craft brewing tends to have production.
People come to these local communities because they want to support their local economy. They also want to support a quality product and one of the things that we’re also seeing as a by-product of this is growth in craft brewery tourism. Here in the inner west there’s a great little tour, but right around Australia that’s growing. Tours in the Hunter, tours in regional areas. And we believe that there’s a prospect for much further growth in the future.
That’s why today, the coming together to form the Inner West Brewers Association is a great initiative by these fantastic local small businesses. And as the local Federal Member and the Federal Shadow Minister for Tourism I’ll provide them with every bit of support.
On the local level, Local Labor is supporting a craft brewery festival here in the inner west. We believe it would attract people, not just locals, to the inner west again to celebrate this fantastic growth industry.
Today is a forerunner of Monday in Canberra where I will be moving a Private Members’ Motion, seconded by Joel Fitzgibbon, the Shadow Minister for Agriculture on the floor of the House of Representatives, calling for support from our national government for this growth industry in the interests of jobs, in the interests of the agricultural sector, in the interest of the tourism sector and I’m hoping to get bipartisan support for that.
I argued before the Budget that there needed to be action taken there but unfortunately we weren’t successful so what we’re doing is using this motion on the floor of the House of Representatives to put pressure on the Federal Government to address the discriminatory tax arrangements which are now in place and, also, to draw attention to the need for us to support the tourism sector in how it relates to craft brewing.
Today we’re joined by a whole bunch of craft brewers from the local area as well as Darcy Byrne and other former local councillors including Sam Iskandar who was the Mayor of Marrickville. Darcy was of course the Mayor of Leichhardt.
They’ve come together in the Inner West Council and Labor there will be supporting this festival. But today I might ask Pete from Wayward Brewing based in Camperdown, just down the road from where I grew up to speak on behalf of the craft brewers.
PETE PHILIP, PRESIDENT, INNER WEST BREWERS ASSOCIATION: The five brewers that are the founding members of the Inner West Brewery Association came together because fundamentally we think craft breweries are good for the community. We’re employing a lot of people, we’ve really become a hub for our local community and we’re very passionate about being local, contributing to our community and of course we’re passionate about craft beer.
So the purposes of the Association are really to work with local, state and federal governments to drive tourism to the area, to create some planning laws to make it easier for craft breweries to operate and to reduce red tape, and, really, to promote economic growth and employment in the area.
We’ve just formed the Association yesterday, formally. There are five current members being Wayward, Young Henrys, Batch, Grifter Brewing and Willie the Boatman. All other craft breweries in the area are absolutely welcome to join and we’ve already had expressions of interest from a number that will be joining as well as associate members such as tours and operators and local community groups. So that’s really the Association in a nutshell, I’d be happy to take any questions.
REPORTER: Did you say that Treasurer Morrison, and I’ll put this to Anthony as well, is pro-VB and anti [inaudible]?
ALBANESE: I think that there’s been a lack of attention to these details. I think what we’ve seen is enormous growth in recent years and this is one area in which essentially the economy on a local level is getting ahead of governments. Governments need to catch up because what’s happening is local communities are voting with their schooner glasses. Local communities are getting out there and supporting local breweries. They’re supporting craft beer.
One of the reasons why they engage is because they’re interested in the different flavours that can come from a locally produced product. These products are fresh, as we can see here behind us at Batch, you can see where it’s been brewed, go a few metres, and taste it right there. They want that quality product; they’re prepared to pay a little bit more for it.
But they also understand they’re supporting their local community. Now this growth is a phenomenon and it’s showing no signs of abatement. What Governments need to do is keep up with it and that’s why we need not just action from the Federal level, we need action from the state and action locally as well and maybe Darcy Byrne can talk about what’s happening here locally.
DARCY BYRNE, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR MAYOR OF THE INNER WEST: Thank you very much Anthony. I want to announce today Local Labor’s support for the Inner West Craft Beer Festival. If we’re elected to the new council in September, we will establish this festival because we want to turbo charge this local industry. The love of craft beer is one of the wonderful characteristics about our inner west community. We want to make it a strength of our local economy. Supporting the festival is important.
The council should be putting money into it and providing all of the logistical support through a partnership with the new Association to make that happen. But we also know that red tape at the Inner West Council is restricting this growing sector. It’s far too difficult for patrons to be able to attend their local brewery and taste the products there. The space available is too limited. It is too difficult for brewers to get an application through the council. They’re not getting a helping hand.
We will appoint someone to work within the council as the champion of the craft brewing sector. Someone who has a town planning qualification, who will hold the hand of our brewers to get their applications through rather than acting as an obstacle. We know that food trucks and community events are being banned from craft breweries for no good reason and we will overturn that as well. We will make that a permitted use in all of our craft breweries here in the inner west.
We know that there’s a great deal of state government regulation that is also causing problems for our brewers and we have Jo Haylen here today, the State Member for Summer Hill. We’re putting forward a five-point plan for how we can overturn this regulation at the Inner West Council.
Jo Haylen also has a five-point plan for how we can improve state government regulation. What you see here today is Labor committed at every level – at the local council, in the state parliament, and in the federal parliament to making craft brewing a success and making the inner west the capital of craft brewing in Australia.
REPORTER: Anthony, one last one. What sort of lobbying efforts have you used in Canberra? Have you been taking the Political Beer Appreciation Society out for drinks or anything like that?
ALBANESE: One of the things that we’re going to have towards the end of this year and I’ve been discussing it with the brewers represented here is have a day in Canberra where we have an event. Next Wednesday night there’s a wine event in Canberra.
Beer has been a little bit left behind because this has been very much a new phenomenon. So we’ll be taking that up. Right around the country, this is a phenomenon. The Inner West is a bit ahead of the game but this is a national phenomenon. I was in Scottsdale in regional Tasmania just a few weeks ago with Ross Hart, the local member, visiting a local brewery there.
This is growing in regional Australia as well. In New South Wales, places like Wagga Wagga, Orange, and the Hunter, and the Illawarra are seeing growth in the craft brewing sector. So we think that the inner west can play a bit of a leadership role here and I congratulate Pete and all the brewers who are represented here.
There are five original members of the Association but more will join because there’s more than five craft brewers now in the inner west and it’s a great thing and I think what we’ll see coming from this, which is similar to other movements that we’re seeing in our economy, where the localised economy is so important in terms of where our future growth will be. People want to be engaged in their local community.
People want, as society becomes more complex, they want to meet whether it be in coffee shops or in their local breweries. We’ve got a growth in another industry of honey that you wouldn’t believe. Twenty years ago if you had have said that to me, I would have thought that you’d had too much beer. But the truth is that people want things that are grown in their local community, that are supporting the local economy.
These guys here don’t make a lot of money. That’s the truth. Local small businesses are in it in part due to their commitment to their local community. They want to create those local jobs. Governments should respond to that and should provide support for that.
PHILIP: If I can just add one more comment on that. We believe that the inner west is producing some of the best beer in the world and the density that we have in really a three or four kilometre zone is incredible. It’s really one of the highest densities of small breweries in the world. The Association and the brewers here are not looking for a hand out. But I think just a recognition that small craft breweries are very small businesses.
Our production costs and our production methods are not what the big industrialised brewers have. Excise accounts for approximately fifty per cent of the cost of producing a litre of beer. It costs more than the farmers are getting for the grain and the hops.
We just don’t think that’s fair or reasonable. We think that by giving some excise relief what’s going to happen is these small brewers are going to hire more people, produce more beer, put more money into quality production and that in turn is going to bring more people in.
We actually think that tourism in the inner west – beer tourism in the inner west – could become a globally recognised thing. Just like cities like Portland in Oregon, San Diego in California, or Munich in Germany are recognised as great beer cities, we think the inner west of Sydney has that potential to actually bring people to the area and be globally recognised. So that’s why we did this. We’re passionate about great beer. As Anthony said, we don’t make a lot of money out of this.
You don’t make money being a small craft brewer the way we are. But we like being small businesses. We like being in our community and I don’t think any of us would change it for anything. I think you’ll still see us being small businesses down the road and that’s the way we like it.