16/02/2018 - 12:12

Beer, spirit producers to win from red tape cut

16/02/2018 - 12:12

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Cutting red tape for wineries, breweries and distilleries, and changes to procurement laws to favour local businesses were two measures to support economic recovery highlighted by Premier Mark McGowan at a Business News Success & Leadership breakfast this morning.

Beer, spirit producers to win from red tape cut
Coloumnist Peter Kennedy interviews Mark McGowan. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Cutting red tape for wineries, breweries and distilleries, and changes to procurement laws to favour local businesses were two measures to support economic recovery highlighted by Premier Mark McGowan at a Business News Success & Leadership breakfast this morning.

Expanding on reforms to liquor licensing announced earlier this week, Mr McGowan said restrictions on alcohol producers would be lifted to give them more opportunities to sell their products.

The laws for sale of wine products are looser than those for craft brewers and distillers, he said.

Craft distilleries have been a small but high profile contributor to WA's beverages scene, with firms like Great Southern Distilling Company, the maker of Limeburners, achieving international success.

“We’re going to be freeing up the beer and spirit producers across Western Australia," Mr McGowan said.

“All those little breweries we’ve come to love … they're going to now have the opportunity to sell their products just like wineries can at the front gate.”

Sales at festivals and fairs would also be allowed, while other changes would benefit winemakers.

“Wineries can't actually sell products from their premises that have been distilled, or whatever the process is for wine, at another premises,” Mr McGowan said.

“Some of those silly bits of red tape that are in the winery and boutique brewers business … were cutting those away.

“If you like going out and having a good time, this will make it easier for you to do so.”

Mr McGowan reflected on how the hospitality industry had changed for the better since he was younger.

“As a young man, my experience of going out was you go the pub, big pubs, lots of people,” he said.

“If you were still standing, you go to a nightclub at like 12am or 1am, which was terrible experience.

“The big pubs were loud and not necessarily conducive to talking; at the nightclubs you couldn't hear yourself think, and were generally a very uncomfortable and disappointing experience for me anyway.”

Backpacking in the US had later shaped his thinking as tourism minister under a previous government, which led him to support reducing red tape for small bars.

One flagship policy for the state government, which was elected nearly a year ago, was the passage of procurement changes to favour local businesses, Mr McGowan said.

That would include weightings for Western Australian competitors, particularly those in the regions, and assistance for local businesses in the tendering process.

There was also a general understanding across government procurement that local businesses should benefit.

The policy was similar to one introduced in Victoria, he said.

Mr McGowan acknowledged the changes would mean reduced focus on cost in contracts but he was confident there would still be value for money.

He cited the example of the Matagarup Bridge linking Perth Stadium to East Perth, which was hit by delays in fabrication offshore in Malaysia.

The bridge build was contracted to a partnership led by Adelaide business York Civil, with Toyota subcontracted for work in Malaysia.

Henderson-based Civmec was now working 24 hours a day to finalise the bridge, Mr McGowan said.

“Thats what can be done in WA. Western Australians can do anything,” he said.

Overseas businesses could still be part of the tender process for government work, Mr McGowan said, to ensure competitive pressure.

Diversification

A further move to support the economy was a greater focus on the state’s defence strategy, Mr McGowan said.

“Next Wednesday I’m flying to Washington with the prime minister. I’ll be meeting with senior officials, in fact the secretary of the navy, seeking some additional maintenance spend,” he said.

“It was once a huge boon for (WA) small business, US ship visits and the like.”

The premier was critical that opportunities such as those in the defence sector had been missed, in his view, during the mining boom.

“Everyone talks about diversifying the economy, until commodities take off and everyone rushes back to mining,” Mr McGowan said.

“During the course of the mining boom it was an enormous period of economic activity, many people did well out of it.

“On the other hand, we missed some opportunities.”

As part of a broader diversification strategy, a new state brand would be revealed later this year, he said, which would apply to agriculture, tourism and any other way in which the state was working to attract international attention.

Another win was deregulation to allow the mixed martial arts Ultimate Fighting Championship in WA, with the first such bout last month.

Mr McGowan said analysis of ticket sales showed about 4,000 people had come from interstate or overseas for the bout, indicating it was a tourism drawcard.

In healthcare, the state government had three sources of potential funding for medical research.

One was thanks to the state government recently signing on to a national hospital initiative, which would mean about $14 billion of funding for healthcare.

Because the state signed on early, it would receive a share of a $20 million health innovation fund, he said.

Other moves included the creation of a WA medical research future fund and a potential realigning of Lotterywest funding towards science and innovation.

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