Regular QEW reader Andrew Aschman has alerted me to a current Queensland Parliamentary Inquiry into a bill which, among other things, would make it easier for artisan distillers and craft brewers to sell their products on or off their premises (see Liquor (Artisan Liquor) Amendment Bill 2020). The bill could be much more ambitious, however, as noted by David Ridden, President of the Australian Distillers Association and owner of Granddad Jack’s Craft Distillery, in response to a question from Opposition MP Laura Gerber at the public hearing into the bill on 21 January. Ms Gerber asked “Is there anything that could be added, changed or amended to better support the industry at this time?” Ridden replied:
Potentially. We are a new industry. Distilling has been around a long time but this artisan segment has really grown phenomenally across the country and in Queensland in the last couple of years. It has not grown so rapidly in Queensland because of our current laws. In terms of having a fair playing field, small producers will never have the finances to be able to produce that sort of volume that allows us to go into those big, major retailers, the ones that Coles and Woolworths control.
It would be nice in the future if the something like 750 small independent grocers across the state had something that allowed just people with the artisan producers licence, this new licence, to sell to them. It would then make it a bit more of an even playing field for us and at least the consumer would see us. At the moment, the reality is that when most consumers want to buy something they go to Dan Murphy’s, First Choice or Liquorland. They do not see all those other brands that we produce across the state because we are not as visible.
Andrew Aschman expanded on this idea in a submission he made to the Inquiry, which was provided after the due date so it isn’t available on the Parliamentary website, unfortunately. Here’s what Andrew wrote:
I am supportive of proposed sales and marketing of Artisan Liquor via Independent Grocers and relevant convenience stores…In relation to supermarkets sales this should be extended and include supermarkets up to 1800sqm. This would cover most Independent supermarkets as well as some metro supermarkets owned by the larger brands that could also help market and sell Artisan Liquor effectively and safely.
This extra convenience would be great for consumers. I’d go even further and allow supermarkets of all sizes to sell all types of liquor as they do in some other states and countries. In my view, the Government should allow a trial of supermarket liquor sales for say 24 months and see if there are any noticeable impacts on alcoholism or alcohol-related violence. If there are not, supermarkets should then be allowed to continue selling alcohol. Current regulations inconvenience consumers, but really aren’t going to stop problem drinkers from accessing alcohol.
Finally, credit to Andrew for his ongoing advocacy for more liberal retail trading regulations in Queensland.
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