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Australian distillers call for break from ‘world’s highest’ tax

The newly appointed board of the Australian Distillers Association (ADA) has called for a tax break on spirits, which it calls “the world’s highest regime”.

Stuart Gregor, founder of Four Pillars Distillery, is the ADA’s new president

Following the resignation of ADA president Bill Lark, former owner of Lark Distillery, the ADA has appointed Victoria’s Four Pillars founder Stuart Gregor to the position.

Gregor, in turn, has selected seven additional Australian distillers to serve as members on the association’s executive committee: Cameron Syme, Great Southern Distilling Co, WA as vice president; Troy Trewin, Lark Distillery, TAS, as secretary; Spike Dessert, Hoochery Distillery, WA as treasurer; and Jeremy Spencer, The West Winds Gin, WA, Jon Lark, Kangaroo Island Spirits, SA, David Vitale, Starward Whisky, VIC, and Wayne Klintworth, Bass and Flinders Distillery, VIC as committee members.

One of the new ADA board’s priorities will be to lobby the federal government to reduce the level of excise tax forced upon distillers, which Gregor claims is around AUS$1 per 30ml of spirit.

“Our smaller brewing and wine-making mates all enjoy the benefits of generous excise and tax rebates – while small distillers are forced to compete with a huge tax monkey on our back,” Gregor said. “We don’t want the monkey no more.”

There are around 50 distilleries in Australia producing gin, vodka, and whisky, rum and other spirits.

Gregor is calling for all Australian distillers to join the ADA and attend a conference on 12 November in Melbourne to discuss the association’s future plans.

“As an industry we are gathering more momentum each and every day,” Gregor added. “There’s power in numbers and we need as much power as we can muster.”

Lark stepped down from his position as president of the ADA this year following the sale of his majority stake in Lark Distillery to an investment syndicate in 2013. He and wife Lyn continue to serve as brand ambassador and non-executive director for the Tasmania distillery.

“Without Bill, the Australian craft distilling movement would not exist – it’s as simple as that,” said Gregor. “Bill has led this association and our industry with distinction and vigour.”

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