Riverina publicans are adding their voice to calls to slash the pubs and clubs' beer tax to help the sector recover from the COVID-19 hangover.
The Brewers Association has called for a 50 per cent reduction in the tax paid on beer in pubs and clubs.
The submission also states that if the government is unwilling to cut the excise on beer, it should, at the very least, freeze the rate where it is at the moment and stop the current automatic increases every six months.
Thirsty Crow brewer Craig Wealands said it would be a move he would wholeheartedly support.
"It would make a massive difference for us because, in the cost of production, about 30 per cent of that is the tax," he said.
"For us, as a small, very small brewery, it does not necessarily mean the money that would be created means we get more profits.
"We would like to be able to offer a cheaper product. We can't compete with the big production companies.
"To be able to lighten the cost would be great for everyone."
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Mr Wealands said the recovery from the pandemic is "flatlining", and if the outlook remains as uncertain as it is now, he does not know if they would survive the next 12 months.
"We will try the best we can," he said. "We will continue to fight and continue to get the message out there that it is critical to buy local."
Mr Wealands said it's not just about beer, but all local independent businesses are the communities' lifeblood. He added the more that is made, bought, sold locally, the better for Wagga.
For a small to medium-sized pub which buys around 15 kegs a week, a reduction of 50 per cent in the excise rate on draught beer could mean a $465 saving in beer tax each week.
Illabo Hotel publican Tony Espinosa said his business has been struggling after all the hurdles thrown at the sector by COVID-19.
"I have not passed on the tax to my customers in two years," he said. "But, I told my regulars the other day, I had no choice. If they cut it or didn't hike it all, then I wouldn't have to."
Mr Espinosa echoed calls for Riverina residents to support their local businesses. He encouraged people to jump in the car and visit smaller pubs for a feed and a drink.
"We've started doing pizzas which have been popular, but it's still slow," he said. "Any way people can support local means businesses like mine can survive."
The Brewers Association CEO, John Preston, said a significant cut in the beer tax bill for pub and club owners and their customers would help the hospitality sector recover.
"Beer anchors pubs and clubs, and these businesses need a break," he said.
"Given more than 85 per cent of beer consumed in Australia is made in Australia, reducing beer tax should also be a priority to support the 100,000 jobs.
"Our modelling has found that a 50 per cent reduction in beer tax applied to draught sales would cost the Government $150 million out of total current beer tax revenue of $2.5 billion."
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