Brewers pressure Qld government over promised licence

Plans for a new licence which would allow Queensland brewers similar opportunities to the state’s winemakers have stalled, with relevant departments appearing to have dropped the ball after a series of ministerial changes.

The deadline to introduce new legislation is looming and Queensland brewers are fighting to get the licence pushed forward, having been asked for their opinion on the licences back in January.

Although by no means a perfect response to issues raised over the comparison of the opportunities available to beer and winemakers, the licence was initially met with optimism as confirmation of the state government’s commitment to the Queensland Craft Beer Strategy which was launched back in 2018 to great fanfare.

It would have allowed brewers to sell products made off-premise in their own venues and allow them to sell their beer at promotional events such as farmers markets, although with stricter rules around this and other areas that winemakers do not currently have.

However it now appears to have fallen by the wayside, casting the state government’s efforts in stark relief in comparison to the NSW Government, which in June committed $200,000 to support the Independent Brewers Association.

In the nearly two years since it was launched by the then-Minister for State Development Cameron Dick, a BrewLab and TAFE brewing training as been launched. They were the first tangible outcomes of the strategy, 18 months in.

IBA Queensland chapter representative David Kitchen, founder of Brisbane’s Ballistic Beer, wrote to members last week urging that they contact the relevant ministers to put pressure on them to move the licence introduction along.

He said in the email that with the upcoming election, there is a high risk that the Artisanal Liquor Producers Licence may not even reach parliament, let alone be passed.

Brews News contacted Minister Glenn Butcher’s office, and a spokesperson said the licence was on their agenda, however they could not advise when there would be concrete decisions made or even when it would be tabled.

Also contacted was the Minister for State Development Kate Jones’ office, with no response at the time of publication. Jones took over the office from Cameron Dick, the architect of the original Queensland Craft Beer Strategy, back in May. Minister Dick’s office indicated that the issue, along with all of the Queensland Craft Beer Strategy, had now been passed on to Butcher’s office.

A draft email circulated to IBA Queensland chapter members said the brewing industry had become “increasingly nervous” about the lack of progress with the licence.

“Despite all the excellent work done on the craft beer strategy over the last two years, all will ultimately come to nought, if the Artisanal Producers License legislation is not introduced into Parliament very soon,” it said.

“It was our hope this License would be passed by now. We would applaud the Government if they were able to get the bill passed, but at least let’s get it introduced during this term.”

It also highlighted the issues with the licence in its current form.

“The original draft of the legislation, closely reflecting the results of the research carried out by the staff of the Department of State Development, was welcomed by the Craft beer industry.

“Unfortunately, that draft was amended to reflect the views of those sections of the Alcohol industry who have worked tirelessly to minimise our market access – the reason the craft beer strategy was proposed originally. What we have now is a compromise document that does not provide the industry with the market access required.”

While the amendments were unlikely to be introduced now, the letter asked that the current legislation be introduced to Parliament pending a review.

“Only if the legislation is introduced into Parliament, can the Government make any claim that they have significantly assisted the industry rather than simply forming another committee and drafting reports.”

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