9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Et. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Does the Prime Minister propose to introduce a bill this session for the, purpose of stabilizing the butter industry, and, if bo, when?
– The Government has bee a considering methods of controlling the exportable surplus of butter, and has been in conference with representatives of the industry. It proposes to introduce a bill to deal with export butter, but I. cannot give tho honorable member the exact date when it will be brought down.
– The announcement has been made that, on behalf of the Government, a party of experts will shortly make an examination of the country between Kingoonya and Alice Springs, and report upon its pastoral possibilities. Will the Prime Minister state a time within which that report must be submitted. If the report is favorable, will ho give speedy effect to its recommendations, and also to those of the Public Works Committee 1
– The Government will certainly request ‘ that the report shall be submitted within a specified time. The party will go from either Kingoonya or Tarcoola to Alice Springs. The journey should not take very . long, and the report should be available soon. I can-‘ not tell the honorable member what action the Government will take upon it until I have had an opportunity to examine it.
– Will the Prime Minister give honorable members some information about the nature of the work to be undertaken by this committee, its personnel, with whom the arrangements were made, and the method of the selection of its members?
– The word “ committee “ is not appropriately applied to this party. The honorable member has probably overlooked the fact that the announcement has been made that the two Northern Territory land commissioners will’ proceed to the Northern Territory from Tarcoola or Kingoonya, and by way ‘ of Alice Springs. They will be accompanied by a representative appointed by the South -Australian Government, and a representative of the pastoralists. The object of the party is to provide this Parliament and the country generally with some reliable information respecting the natura of the country between Kingoonya and Alice Springs.
– Will the Prime Minister request the party to report upon the practicability of making temporary crossings at Finke River and other places, to enable a motor- transport service to be established between Oodnadatta and Alice Springs at an early dato?
– The principal object of the party will be to consider tho pastoral and other developmental possibilities of the country, and it will not be expected to report on transportation matters. I do not think that it will be in the vicinity of the country referred to by the honorable member, but, should it be going that way, there will be no objection to it. giving consideration to the matter he has mentioned. commonwealth: bank.
Appointment of Directorate.
– In. view of the fact that the banks have intimated that they intend to advance only proportionate amounts to the wood buyers who will be operating in Australia in connexion with the coming clip, can the Prime Minister inform, us when the directorate of the Commonwealth Bank will be. appointed, or, if not, will he give us an assurance that the appointments will be made as soon as possible?
– The Government is now giving consideration: to the personnel of the directorate, and I hope shortly to be able to make an announcement on the matter.
– I direct the attention of the Treasurer to. statements that have been made in the press. throughout Australia, as well as by honorable members of this Parliament, that the maternity allowance is a, baby bonus. I hope the Treasurer will take steps to repudiate such statements, for they are insulting to our women.
– Honorable members are aware that during question time their remarks, to be in carder, must be in the form of questions. It can hardly be said that the observations of. the honorable member for East Sydney are in that form.
FEDERAL CAPITAL COMMISSION.
– Can the Prime Minister yet announce the personnel of the Canberra Commission?
– I cannot at the moment, but I anticipate being able to do so in the near future.
CAPTAIN COOK SOUVENIR.
– Yesterday, in reply to the honorable member for Hindmarsh, I promised to obtain some information respecting the Captain Cook souvenir. I am now able to inform, him that the committee of the Commonwealth Parliament
Library is distributing copies of the souvenir to the 12,900 public, private, and state schools in the Commonwealth. In addition, it has sent out. copies, to the members of all the Australian Parliaments, and to the 43 libraries and public institutions in the Commonwealth, as well as to institutions abroad” with which our Library exchanges publications. The committee further decided that any public institutions, such as municipal councils, school of arts &c. in Australia or New Zealand, should receive a copy on making written application for it to the librarian in charge of the Commonwealth National Library, and giving an undertaking to have it framed and exhibited. .
BRITISH WAR OBLIGATIONS.
Payments to the United States of America.
asked the Treasurer,upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions’ are as follow : -
LOCOMOTIVES FOR COMMONWEALTH RAILWAYS.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Mr. BRUCE__ Mr. Hobler has not been authorized to report on or purchase any engines for the Commonwealth Government.
Hon. H. D. McIntosh’s Position.
asked the Prim* Minister, upon notice -
Was the Honorable H. D. Mcintosh the accredited representative of this Parliament at that conference?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether -the Government intend to extend the provisions of tlie Commonwealth Arbitration Court to managerial and supervisory employment?
– The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act extends to the full scope of the constitutional power given to -the Commonwealth Parliament to make laws with regard to conciliation ‘and arbitration for .the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond a state. I am not aw.are of anything in the act which excludes managerial or supervisory employment.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That tho House, ,at its .rising, adjourn until Tuesday next at 3 o’clock p.m.
Debate resumed from 28th August (vide page 3721), om motion by Mr. Bruce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The object of this bill is to provide for the payment ‘of a bounty on exported wines. I propose to examine the causes which have led to its introduction, the principle which underlies it and the method by which the bounty is to be paid. Our difficulties in this industry, as in the dried fruits industry, which was under discussion yesterday, are a consequence of the war. War conditions dislocated the wine-making industry in Italy, France, and other Mediterranean countries, und practically closed the usual sources from which the world’s markets were supplied ; but the Australian growers - who did not suffer from war disabilities so keenly - were able to continue their production, and, in fact, were greatly encouraged to do so by the increased prices which were obtainable. More vineyards were planted, but, unfortunately, instead of our new soldier settlers being permitted to choose the varieties of grapes which they would plant, as the fruit-growers were allowed to choose the varieties of fruits, two of the State Governments compelled them to plant a certain proportion of doradilla grapes. When the European sources of supply mEe more became available a reaction ,set in against the Australian producers, with the result that practically every win* cellar in Australia is now overstocked. The Prime Minister stated yesterday that 75 per cent, of wine consumed in Australia is sweet wine; and that consequently there is not much chance of increasing the home consumption of sweet wine. Notwithstanding that the wine consumption in Great Britain ds 10,000,000 gallons annually, the Australian producers are not able to exploit that market for the reason that their wines, having to cross the equator, must be fortified to the extent of 34 per cent, proof spirit, whereas the British -Customs authorities define sweet wine as that which does not contain 30 -per cent, proof spirit. The British duty on wine which does not contain 30 per cent, proof spirit is 2s. 6d. per gallon, whereas the duty on wine which contains over that percentage of fortification is 6s. a gallon. Portugal and Spain in particular have taken advantage of this provision. They have not to send their wines across the equator, and, therefore, they can fortify them to just below 30 per cent, proof spirit, and place them upon the English market upon payment of a duty of 2s. 6d. a gallon. Our sweet wines, on the other hand, must pay, allowing for preference, 4s. a gallon, as the spirit content is greater than 30 per cent. The object of the bill is to enable us to obtain a portion of the trade in sweet wines in Great Britain. The first question that I should like to have answered is whether we are adopting a right principle in giving the proposed bounty. A considerable amount of money is invested in the wine industry. The Commonwealth Government has increased the excise duty from the pre-war rate of 6d. a gallon to 6s. a gallon. That duty bears heavily upon the growers. Returned soldiers, as I have said, were compelled to plant a certain portion of their land with doradilla grapes, and as different governments are responsible for the position in which they now find themselves, something should be done to assist them. It has been argued that the Commonwealth Government waa not responsible for the compulsory planting of the doradilla grape vines. That Government, however, is directly responsible for the repatriation of returned soldiers. Despite the statements that have been made, I contend that the governments of the states, in their dealings with the returned soldiers, were acting merely as the agents of the Commonwealth Government. I have often marvelled at the readiness with which the states accepted responsibility in that direction, which rightly should have been carried by the Commonwealth Government. Any matter arising from the defence of Australia must be the responsibility of the Commonwealth. In some quarters to-day there is a tendency to place upon the shoulders of the Labour Governments in Victoria and South Australia the responsibility for the present position of the industry. I remind honorable members, however, that when the planting of doradilla grape vines was insisted upon, Liberal Governments were in power in those states. It is the duty of the Commonwealth Government to assist the growers even to the extent of giving them a bounty which will enable them to take advantage of the outside markets. I shall expect our freetrade friends in the corner opposite to object to this proposal. Their argument will be that a duty having been imposed upon imported wines, and the local industry having thus been given the opportunity to capture the home market, we have done sufficient.
– I suggest that the honorable member ask his so-called freetrade friends to explain their position.
– I have no doubt that they will do so very ably. The honorable member for Wimmera has drawn my fire upon himself. I had in mind the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), and the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), who have been the leaders in expounding freetrade doctrines. I should like to point out that assistance to the grape-growers and wine manufacturers is made possible by the excise duty imposed upon fortifying spirit. The bounty proposed* therefore, differs from the bounties that have been granted to other industries. A bounty of 4s. is to be. paid to the exporter of wine that is fortified to the extent of 34 per cent, proof spirit. The Prime Minister last night pointed out that actually the bounty will be only 3s., because of the excise duty of ls. a gallon on the fortifying spirit used in the manufacture of the wine exported. Under the new proposals, however, an excise duty of lOd. will be paid on the fortifying spirit contained in the wine that is exported, and the full extent of the bounty will be 3s. 2d. I am pleased to learn from the bill that the Government is making an attempt to protect the grower. The payment of the bounty is conditional upon the Minister for Trade and Customs being satisfied that a reasonable price has been paid - to the grower. A good deal will depend upon the man who4 is Minister for Trade and Customs. He is to be given a good deal of latitude. If he is working hand-in-glove with the big wine-making interests, and were inclined to favour them instead of the grower, he. will have the opportunity to do so. T give the Government credit, however, for endeavouring to protect the grower, and to see that he obtains a reasonable price. It appears to me that the bounty will be of advantage to the manufacturers of wine, particularly if the Minister for Trade and Customs is favorably inclined towards them.
– They are making fortunes at the present time.
– I admit that many of them are making fortunes. I hold no brief for the big wine-makers. They have fought me at every opportunity. Hyland-1: enfold and others have gone into my district and tried to prevent my return to this House. I think the time has come when the consumers of wine should be given more consideration than they are receiving at the present time.. I am prepared to allow the big wine-makers to benefit from the bounty, one reason being that I am hopeful that this will be the means of forcing our way into the British and other markets, and that this will result in greater competition for the grapes, to the ultimate benefit of the growers. I therefore intend to vote for the bill. A second reason that induces me to> support the bill is that I believe it will test the sincerity of the big wine-makers. I recognize that the proposed bounty is a heavy one, and should be ample if the big wine manufacturers really desire to obtain markets in other parts of the world. T sometimes doubt whether that is their desire. I have given a good deal of consideration to the matter. In 1912, and in earlier years, the wine manufacturers had their feet upon the necks of the growers, and the prices which they paid for the grapes was very low. They may see some advantage in bearing the market down, with the object of buying out many of the small vineyard-holders, before they make any serious attempt to right the existing position. Honorable members may say that I am suspicious. I remember, however, that the wine-makers recently turned down the Prime Minister when he offered them a bounty if they would pay a decent price to the growers. They will probably say that the reason for their refusal was that their cellars were overstocked. That was greater reason for accepting the Prime Minister’s offer and endeavouring to place their wine on the markets of the world. They have made enormous profits out of the industry and the growers of grapes, and, even if some financial stress were involved in trying to find markets for the benefit pf the growers, to whom they have always posed as friends, they should have been prepared to take some risk and accepted the Prime Minister’s conditions. Not only do I think that the wine-makers wish to lower the value of the vineyards, so that they may buy out the small growers, but I wonder whether they are seeking also to destroy the co-operative distilleries recently .established by the soldier settlers along the river Murray. I do not say that that is their desire, but I cannot help being suspicious that the wine-makers can see a prospect of greater profit by decreasing the value of the vineyards and buying them up at low prices than by encouraging the export trade. Doubtless when the vineyards had passed into their control they would pay more attention to export. This bill puts them to the test. If they fail to ma.ke a decent attempt to place their wines on the markets of the world they will prove that they are not the friends of the growers, but wish to have the small vignerons at their mercy as they were fifteen years ago. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) said that it would not be necessary in order to obtain the export bounty that the fortifying spirit used in the wines should be the product of doradilla grapes only. Certainly the bill does not make any provision that the export bounty shall be paid only on wine fortified with doradilla spirit, but in. practice that will happen, because there is to be a differentiation of ls. per gallon in the excise duty in favour of spirit made from the doradilla grape. I do not think that the Prime Minister and his officers are very certain what will be the actual result of that arrangement. Without intending to be dogmatic, I shall place certain facts before the Prime Minister in the hope that he will give the same concession “ to all spirit used for fortifying purposes, regardless of the grapes from which it was made. On two previous occasions I spoke of the position of the older growers who have been producing mataro and other grapes. Some of the big wine-makers grow a large proportion of their own grapes. Suppose that in the past they have used the mataro grape grown on their own properties for the manufacture of spirit for fortifying purposes. Henceforth it will be possible for them to buy doradilla spirit on which the excise will be ls. per gallon less than on the spirit produced from any other grape. That will bo an incentive to them to use the whole of their mataro crop for wine-making, and to buy the doradilla spirit for fortifying purposes. Row will that development affect the small grower of mataro grapes ? The very fact of the big manufacturers having converted, all their mataro vintage into wine will cause a reduction of the price’ of mataro for wine-making purposes. Of course, the small grower will still have an opportunity of using his mataro grapes for the manufacture of spirit, but he will be handicapped by the differentiation of ls. . per gallon in favour of spirit manufactured from the doradilla grape. I. have previously emphasized the danger of the- growers, being encouraged to graft over from the mataro and other vines to the doradilla, in order, to obtain, the ls. preference in excise duty.. The Prime Minister suggested two means- by which that could be prevented. One was to pay the export bounty only on wines fortified- with spirit made from the fruit of doradilla vines planted before the 1st September, 1924. I admit that such a provision would tend to discourage the planting of additional doradilla vines,but it would not overcome the possibility of grafting mataro vines’ over to doradilla. In any case it would be rather difficult to police the- spirit produced from vines planted after 1st September of this year. There are not many Custom* and excise officers m my electorate, and I can imagine the1 trouble they would’ experience in: differentiating between spirit manufactured from doradilla grapes planted, prior to September of this year’ and spirit from vines’ grafted over after that date.
– 1 admit that if the growers do- graft over to the doradilla vine, it will be almost impossible to police the spirit they produce, but such a provision as I mentioned would be a deterrent against anybody starting to grow doradilla grapes after the 1st September.
– That provision would act as a- deterrent. A bounty to- growers, also, has. been promised upon certain conditions. The* vine-growers’ associations that have made representations to me have asked that if that bounty be granted by this Parliament, it shall be paid, only to the growers of. doradilla vines . planted prior to the 1st January of this year. I commend that suggestion to the1 Prime Minister. Another proposal advanced by the right honorable gentleman was’ that the export bounty should not operate for more than two or three years. The bill provides for the bounty to be payable for a period of three years. That limitation will certainly deter growers from grafting, over from the- mata-r’o- and other vines to the- doradilla,, because two. or three years- must elapse before the- full. effect of the grafting, can be felt. 1 submit for the information of the House- a list of prices obtained for’ the mataro grape, which has been used for the manufacture- of both heavy wines and1 fortifying spirit. These* figures were prepared by the secretary of the Barossa Vine-growers Association: - 1918, £6 5s. per ton; 1919, £6 5s. per ton; 1920, £8 per ton; 1921, £10 10s. per ton; 1922, £6 per ton; 1923, £6 per ton ; and 1924, £5 l!0s. per ton. I place those- figures on record, so that in the event of an abnormal- fall in the price of the mataro grape we may know the’ effect of the legislation we are’ now passing. Another reason for reducing the excise duty ls., a gallon all round is the position- of the producers of dried fruits. Yesterday the Prime Minister said that those- producers- get their first; and principal return from the dried fruits, the grapes sent on to the winery being only a secondary consideration. The Dried Fruits Bounty Bill contained’ the provision that if the whole of a grower’s crop is below the export standard, such portion of it as the Minister shall determine may be used for distillation purposes.
– Power is given, to the Minister to allow an advance to- be made to a, grower who puts into a distillery grapes that, if up to the standard, would have been part of. the export quota-
– I am quite willing- to accept that explanation.. A grower must put in a certain proportion of his fruit for distillation before he can obtain- -anr advance. When he has done that he is up against the position that the spirit made from second-rate fruit has to compete with spirit made from doradilla grapes, and, therefore, is at a. disadvantage to the extent of ls.’ per gal-tan. In addition,, the co–opera>tive and other distilleries will prefer t» purchase fresh doradillas, because dried fruit is more difficult to treat, for spirit manufacture. The result will, be.-the- forcing down of the price of second-rate dried fruits. This difficulty could .be met ‘by reducing the excise om fortified spirit ‘by ls. per gallon, no matter from what particular grape it is produced. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) scaled that 70 per cent, -of the spir.it used for fortifying purposes was manufactured from doradilla grapes. I strongly urge ‘him to reduce the excise by ls. a gallon on the remaining 30 per cent, of spirit, which would ma”ke for the easier working of the whole scheme, without penalizing any section of the grapegrowers. In many instances the doradilla grape-grower grows other grapes as well. I ask the. Prime Minister, when introducing the other measure, not to make a distinction between the growers of fruit from which fortifying spirit is obtained. The Prime Minister himself and hrs officers have doubts on this subject, because it has been stated that experts will inquire into the whole matter.
– I did not say that there would ‘be an expert inquiry to ascertain whether the bill would apply to doradilla grapes only, or. to grapes generally. It is proposed to make inquiries respecting the future position of the doradilla grapegrowers, and to ascertain whether there will ‘be a sufficient outlet for their production.
– I accept that correction, but even so, the Prime Minister is not certain that by . giving a preference of ls.per .gallon, the doradilla grape-growers w’ill be given sufficient relief. In view of this differentiation,, which may lead to much complication, I ask .him to reconsider the position before the other measure is brought down, and to put all .’fortifying; -spirit, whether made from doradilla or other grapes, upon the same footing. The other day the honorable member for “Boothby (Mr. Duncan Hughes) took exception to my statement that I was in favour of prohibiting the importation of spirit for human consumption,. He said that it was protection gone rabid. I deny that I am a rabid protectionist. Some of my colleagues even call me a freetrader, which I am riot. I support the policy of new protection, as laid down by the Labour party. I received from Great Britain by the last mail a price-list of wines, issued by the firm of Findlater Mackie, Todd and Co., who seem to be trying .to capture some of the Australian wine trade. In that price-list there is .an item of brandy of the vintage of 1:86’5, which can foe supplied f.’o-.b. ira London at 220s. a dozen bottles. That is nearly £1 a bottle. To that must be added freight and duty to Australia. It is no concern .of mine that the honorable member for Boothby is so -fussy and finnicky that only -very highclass brandies will suit his palate I do not claim to be a connoisseur -of spirits - probably he does - but I .aim satisfied that those Australians -who -drink brandy are content -with the local spirit. I believe that some brandies -are preferred to others because of their piquancy w flavour., and evidently this applies to imported brandies. All spirits should be classed as luxuries.. *1 would go :so far as to .prohibit the importation of -all spirits for human ‘Consumption, and thus compel persons like -the honorable <mem-b&r for Boothby - who .-is am Australian - ito support the. Australian wine . and spirit industry.
.- This bill is to be -viewed from two different aspects - its bearing upon the fiscal policy of the country and its attempt to give relief to grape-growers who are .in immediate saud dire trouble. I shall support the ball, although I do mot favour the system of bounties. The doradilla grape-growers are in distress, apparently not through their own fault. The ‘Commonwealth Government is involved in the blame- I do not mean this Government - tout ,Common.wealth legislation. -Certain state .governments are .also responsible for the existing position., ;as they practically farced new settlers to plant -doradilla grapes. Why did those governments put the growers in this position ? It will probably be found on inquiry that the state governments .acted upon the advice of persons vitally inter<ested an wine-making. Some time .ago ‘-there was a considerable shortage of spirit for fortifying wines. Efforts were made to induce the Govern* ment to allow wine-makers to .use poor quality fruity such as pears, &c, for the production of spirit for fortifying purposes. That .request was nearly granted. If agreed to it -would -have had a disastrous effect upon the wine-making industry. -Apparently because of the shortage of spirit for “fortifying purposes the wine-makers approached the Government to ensure the planting of a large number of grapes from which fortifying spirit could be obtained. To that degree the state governments were responsible, because many of the new growers were undoubtedly untrained, and were compelled to follow the expert advice given to them by the government officers. The trouble can be traced further back than that. The method of fortifying wine is based on and controlled by Commonwealth legislation. The present position is an indication of what mischief can arise from government intrusion into and control of industries. The wine-making industry of this country is in an unfortunate position because of the regulations governing the preparation of fortifying spirit. In wine-making countries the spirit used for fortifying good class wine is of high quality. When poor quality spirit is used for fortifying good wine the average quality of the whole is reduced, and that is what has happened to a lot of our wines. Unfortunately, in this country the method of distillation employed in making most of the fortifying spirit does not produce spirit of a high quality, but rather a spirit of neutral, or plain, unflavoured quality, commonly known as white spirit, although that term is often misunderstood. The result is that first class wine is fortified with a large quantity of poor spirit, and consequently the quality of the wine is reduced. In the best wine and brandy making districts of France much care is taken to preserve the quality that makes for high values in the market, and therefore in the making of wine a high quality fortifying spirit is used. If white spirit were used for fortification purposes the quality of the wine would suffer considerably. The general practice here is to use characterless or neutral fortifying spirit. That is very injurious to the’ wine trade. We have heard much about our inability to sell our wines in foreign markets, but my view is that there is only one way to capture the foreign wine markets, and that is by improving the quality of our wines. The Government may decide to pay bounties, and may try to force Australian wines into certain markets, but that will not capture the true wine markets, but will rather invade the markets now supplied by spirituous and other liquors.
– Hear, hear! We do not mind that.
– We do not mind it, perhaps, but it is desirable that we should realize what we are doing. I do not wish to appear to utter statements that are too sweeping. I do not say that very fine wines are not produced in Australia, but they are, generally speaking, produced only in limited quantities, and are of special vintages. It is probable that the largest part of the profit of winemakers is derived from the cheap wines that are sold in considerable quantities in this country, but it will be no credit to us, as a wine-making country, to open up markets with wines of that quality. Many complaints have been made about the quality of the wines sold in Australia, and I challenge contradiction when I say that many of them are of a very poor quality. They are consumed in such large quantities in the wine shops because they provide the cheapest form of alcohol obtainable. Many of them are very strong, and are cheaper than other intoxicating liquors. The truth of that statement is proved by official reports. The great strength of our wines is the result of our regulations permitting fortifying spirit to be made cheaply, without regard to quality. The men engaged in the industry have been misled by . the application of a wrong principle in controlling the industry. That is very regrettable, and an improvement would involve the complete reversal of the Government’s policy. I cannot, at the moment, see how that can be done. But are the growers to be left stranded because of the Government’s action ? I say no, and I therefore contend that the Government is justified in presenting the bill, which, I am sure, is the result of anxious inquiry and careful investigation. The only feature of it that I do not like is its duration. It will give virtually a three years’ lease to the present system. If the wine-makers are to be induced to study quality and to fight for markets on the basis of quality, instead of on the basis of a bounty, they ought to be put on their mettle at once. To give them a three years’ lease is tantamount to giving them an inducement to delay reform for three years. Anything may happen in that time, and they will probably continue on the old lines in the hope that something will happen. At the end of the period they may have a three years’ vested interest as an argument for a further continuance of the same policy. Although I agree that the Government must step in, I urge it to limit the duration of the bill to a period of one year.
Those engaged in the industry should be compelled to attempt to re-organize it at once, and at the end of the year we shall be able to see whether they are doing it earnestly, and whether there is any justification for continuing the bounty for another year. To provide a bounty for three years is to give them an invitation not to hurry too much with the work of re-organizing their industry, and to court some of the secondary and other influences referred to by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb). Bounties I do not like, but as a means of relief, the bill is necessary. While the relief is being provided I should like the Government to ascertain whether the present system of control, for which the Government is responsible, can be improved with a view to providing a better quality of liquor and increasing the possibility of capturing foreign markets on a basis of quality.
– I listened with interest to the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) in his efforts to unravel a knotty problem. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) stated the case for the growers, and the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) spoke on the scientific side of the problem. I wish to say a few words from the point of view of the people who will pay the bounty. I do not represent any wine-growers, although I probably represent a considerable number of wine drinkers. If the honorable member for Angas wants to encourage the Australian wine industry, he should buy a bottle or two of Australian wine. He talks a lot about encouraging the industry, but he does not practise what he preaches. If he were to drink a glass of good wine or brandy, he would be able to speak with more authority.
– It might then be impossible to stop me speaking.
– The honorable member asserted that the industry pays an excessive excise duty. Therefore, the simplest way to relieve the industry is to reduce that duty. It has been stated that all the wine stores are fully stocked with wine, and that, being so, who will get the benefit of the bounty? It will not be the man who grew the grapes and sold them for next to nothing.
– Before the exporter can claim the bounty he will be required to prove that he paid a reasonable price to the grower of the grapes.
– We know that the wine-makers did not pay a reasonable price for the grapes. If a reasonable ‘ price had been paid, the growers would not need to come to Parliament for a bounty. They are asking for a bounty because they have not received a reasonable price. If the excise duty of 6s. a gallon is too high, it should be reduced to 3s., or some other reasonable figure. As the price of wine in Australia to-day is 100 per cent, above its price in pre-war days, it is obvious that the public pays the excise duty. While I am anxious to help the men engaged in the industry, 1 say that it would be far better for the Government to make the growers a present of £50 or £100 each than to pay a bounty to exporters.
– There would be “a howl if that were done.
– -inure would; but it would be cheaper than the method proposed in the bill. The collection of the excise duty already entails considerable expenditure,, and the payment of the bounty will necessitate a large increase in the staff of officials. The bill will be of great benefit to the man with large quantities of wine in stock. A few weeks ago I went, with other honorable members, to see wine being made at South Melbourne. Beautiful grapes that were there being shovelled into vats cost, I was told, only id. a lb. How can a man make a living by growing grapes at that price? The bill will not assist the man who .supplied the grapes. The intention of the Government is good; but so long as the grower is in the grip of the wine-maker, who can pay what he likes for grapes because of the glut on the market, his position will not be improved by an export bounty. I shall be surprised if the bill assists the grower, for I believe that it will assist only the exporter. Some time ago the hop-growers of Tasmania were in a position similar to that in which the grapegrowers are to-day. The brewers would not buy Tasmanian hops while American hops were obtainable, and the Tasmanian hop-growers were nearly ruined. The
Leader ofthe Opposition(Mr. Charlton) had many interviews on the subjectwith the Treasurer, and the outcome was that the Government told the brewers that unless they guaranteed to pay a certain price for the hops they required the import duties levied uponbeer would be removed. The effect of that was that the brewers agreed to pay a reasonable price for local hops, instead of buying imported hops. If the Government wishes to assist this industry, it should say to the manufacturers of wines and spirits that, unless they give the growers a fair price for their grapes, the import duty on wines and spirits will be repealed or reduced. That would bring the manufacturers of whisky, brandy, and wine to their senses, andwould compel them to pay a fair price for the grapes they use. I am as sure as thatI stand here that, when this measure is brought into operation, the grape-grower, whom it is intended to benefit, will getvery little benefit from it. There is over-production of grapes, and whenever there is over-production of anycommodity the man who produces it must expect to have to sell it at a sacrifice.
– The honorable mem- ber still thinks there is something in the law : of supply and demand.
-Of course there is, but itcan be regulated by law. I say that, in the same way, if there is an over-supply oflabour, the man who has his labour to sell shouldbe protected. That is the policy of the party on this side. Because there isover-production of any article, that is no ‘reason why the man who produces it should be cut down tothe last penny for ; the article produced. We have imposed duties to enable those engaged in the industry with which this measure deals to capture the local market. This has led to overproduction, and we are now asked to assist the industry tocapture the London market. It is an injustice to ask the peopleof this country to pay 4s. per gallon onall wine exported from Australia. We are told that the bounty to be paid is not like “bounties ordinarily paid for the assistance of industries,because it will he paid for out of the revenue derived fromtheexcise duty. The fact, however, is that the bounty will be paid from the Consolidated Revenue, to which all sections -contribute. The dairyfarmers might just as well approach the Governmentand contend that, as there was an over-productionof milk, they should be given abounty on every gallon of milk supplied tothe creameries.
– The cases are not parallel, because there is no excise duty onmilk.
– The dairymen might ask for a bounty because their industry is languishing, the banks refuse to assist them, and they areover-producing. I mightsubmita similar claim for -relief,, as the representative of an industrial centre. It will be admitted that the labour of the ‘Waterside workers is essential ‘to the development of the . ‘country.. These must be labour . availaible for the loading and . unloading -.of vessels, and, should there at any time , be an oversupply of this labour., and I were to appeal to the Government for . a bounty in order tokeep unemployed wharf labourers from starving, what wouldbe thought of that proposition ? It would notbe considered. But when relief is . asked forthe grape industry, or the dried fruits industry, all the machinery ofgovernment is used to provide” it. Honorable memberson thisside do not object, but the principleupon which this legislation is based should be applied all round.I intendto vote against thebill, because I do not think it will benefit the growersof grapes, and also because the bounty is , to be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue, to which all have to contribute. We know what will happen at the end of. the period of three years during . which it is proposed to give this assistance. All wires that canbe pulled will be pulled to have the assistancecontinued. I am, sorry that I cannot support my friend, the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb), who, I know, is anxious to protect an industry that is very hard pressed. Ifeel confident that the bounty will not find its way to the grape-growers,but will be merely the means of enabling manufacturers of wine who have . got stocks of wine on hand to export at an increased profit. Manyof them are already millionaires, and this bill will enable them to become still more wealthy.
– I must congratulate the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) on the practical way in which he has dealt with this question. I must also congratulate the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) on the splendid fight he put up for a measure which he believes will benefit the growers of grapes. I should like to be able to support the bill, and I should do so- if I thought for a moment that it would benefit the growers.. I am considerable doubt as to how I should vote on the measure. I have always voted for any legislation necessary to preserve an Australian industry, or to establish new industries in this country. In dealing with this subject I am faced with the difficulty that the manufacturers of wine in Australia, have not done all they ought to have done to build up the Australian market. The price of Australian wines in Tasmania is practically prohibitive to large numbers of people who like a glass of. good Australian wine. Probably the reason for this is that too much profit is made by middlemen out of the industry. There has been a very unreasonable increase in the price of . Australian wines, as most of us know who plead guilty to drinking an. occasional glass of good Australianwine when we think we can afford it. In this connexion I should like to sympathize with the honorable member for Angasbecause of the fun he has lost by reason of the fact that he does not occasionally drink a glass of good Australian wine. As one who represents grapegrowers, he might be expected to modify his views on the liquor question.
– I like water, and I drunk it; but I let others please themselves..
– I think that is what we all do. As one who believes that good Australian wine is a wholesome beverage, taken in moderation, as most people take it, I should like to see it placed within the reach of the ordinary wageearner. The honorable member for Angas and the Government contend that what is proposed is not a bounty in the ordinary acceptation of the term, because, while the amount proposed is 4s. per gallon, the excise duty exceeds that amount. I should like to remind honorable members that the manufacturers of wine in Australia took advantage of the war to raise the price of Australian wines, to a far higher level than was justified by the increased excise duty. to which Parlia ment agreed as a war measure. I take one brand of wine merely to illustrate what was done in connexion with all classes of Australian wine. Prior to the war, in this city, in the shops of Hans Irvine, of the Great Western Vineyards, a large bottle of sparkling hock could be purchased for 4s., and a small bottle for 2s. 3d. During the war, when the excise duty was increased, the price of this wine to- the . public was increased 100 per cent.., an increase- which was not justified by the increase in the excise duty. During the war the price was increased from 4.s. to 8s. for a large bottle of this wine, containing’, I believe, an Imperial quart. I have mentioned a particular brand, but it must be- understood that the prices of other brands, of wine of equal quality were increased in the- same way. There was probably am “ honorable understanding” between the . manufacturers as to prices. The reason given for the increase was that the manufacturers had to pay an increased excise duty. The makers of wine did not carry on their industry for nothing,, and prior to the war they were presumably making a fair profit at 4s. per large bottle. Weknow that some of them made fortunes before the war. They took advantage of the war, as so many other profiteers did, to increase their profits beyond what was reasonable. Since the war they have only very slightly reduced their prices, and a large bottle of wine; which before the war could be obtained in shops in this city for 4s., is now sold in the same shops at 7s:. The. profit that is being, taken from the public is beyond a reasonable profit. I say that the manufacturers of wine have not done all that they ought to have done to capture the Australian market. If they put good quality wines on the market at prices that would bring them within the reach of the average citizen, there would not bo the same need to look abroad for a market-
– To- what extent did the growers benefit by the 100 per cent, increase in the price of wine?.
– That is a pertinent interjection,. I do not- think they benefited at all. The honorable member for South Sydney told us a few minutes ago that he was recently at a place near Melbourne where the wine-makers were paying the growers¼d. a lb. for grapes-.
– That would be grapes for making fortifying spirit.
– It was for the best grapes.
– If the wine-makers would be satisfied with a reasonable profit and make their product available at a lower price to the Australian win© consumers, and to people who would willingly become wine consumers if they could afford it, the industry would be in a much better position. The bill provides that the bounty shall be paid only when the Minister is satisfied that the grower has been paid a fair price for his grapes. I disagree with that provision. One Minister may consider that a grower is entitled to pay 10s. a day -in wages to the men he employs, aud also to a reasonable return on his invested capital, whereas another may think that 7s. or 8s. is a reasonable wage. It is dangerous to allow such wide discretion to a Minister. A much preferable way of assisting the industry would be to reduce the excise. Why should such a heavy excise duty be placed upon the product of grapes ? That wine drinking is anathema to certain people is not a sufficient reason. The (Government would be well advised to assist the grape-growers in much the same way as they assisted the hop-growers in Tasmania. I admit that it took a long while to get the Government to make any attempt to straighten out the tangle in which the hop-growers found themselves. Their difficulties were caused by the Australian brewers purchasing hops from America and elsewhere, which were dumped in Australia at prices which rendered Australian competition impossible. After trying vainly in many ways to obtain relief, the hop-growers informed the Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Charlton) of their plight, and to his credit must be placed the scheme that was ultimately arranged between the Government, the brewers, and the hop-growers, by which the brewers agreed to purchase all but 15 per cent, of their hop requirements from Australian producers. The Tariff Board was made the instrument of the Government in giving effect to the scheme, and although considerable delay occurred, which necessitated the hop-growers sending, at their own expense, numerous deputations to the Government, the industry is now on a firmer basis. The principles adopted to give relief to the hop-growers should be applied to relieve the grapegrowers. I do not feel inclined to support the bill, for the wine-makers could do a great deal to develop the local market if they would pay a reasonable price to the grape-growers - returned soldiers and others, for they are all entitled to a fair return for their labour - and would reduce the price of their wines, so that the would-be Australian consumers could buy them.
– I must admit to seeing certain difficulties iu connexion with this measure, for it is not on all fours with previous bounty bills which have been introduced by the Government. In passing, may I remark’ that the Prime Minister has travelled far from his famous pronouncement of not so long ago that the Government considered that trade should flow through its ordinary channels aud would not continue the policy of paying bounties. Although he said that that government governed best which governed least, it is gratifying to honorable members on this side of the chamber that he is realizing that government interference with trade and commerce is not only justifiable, but necessary, particularly when private enterprise causes such muddles as are to be found in various Australian industries to-day. I trust that he will continue his good work, for when the Labour party is in power he will not be able so effectively to criticize it for dealing with a matter in a broad general way instead of nibbling at it like his government is doing. .There are several undesirable features in this bill. I strongly object to the wine drinkers of Australia being compelled to contribute towards the cost of the wine consumed by wine drinkers in England and other parts of the world. That is what the proposals in this bill actually come to. If we were asked to contribute by taxation or otherwise to provide bread, meat or other necessary food for starving people on the other side of the world, I would acquiesce for humanitarian reasons, but I emphatically protest against helping to pay for the beverages which are enjoyed by people abroad who are well able to pay for them. The Prime Minister informed us that he had done his best while in England to secure an alteration of the British tariff to allow Australian wines to enter Great Britain on a more favorable basis. He also said that Senator Wilson had used very strong arguments in urging the British Government to give us a preference. I do not complain about the attitude of the British Government lb must, be- allowed to mam-age’ its own business.,, though’. I. dot-net profess’ to be< able to- see the mattes: from its point of’ view. Bot. I. fail to see– why this- Parliament should give: preference to- a, counttry that baa repeatedly refused to> give preference tax. Australian! products^ This: is. a bounteous government! ta ita< Mends-.. As with- other Mis of- a. lobe- natone, thoi bill does’ not provide, that, the- bounty shall got to> those: whom it; is. ostensiblyintended to benefit’; We- are. always1 asked to- extend sympathy, to. the- poor primary producer, hut in every case the bounty- is given to> somebody other, than the person who produces the prim-airy product. The individual who. “’ farms’ the farmer “ and exploits- tike: primary pa?o«ducer alway* gets thoi bounty… It is: definitely provided that the. bounty shall be- 4s. a. gallon-. The Minister, for Tirade and. Customs,,, whoever, he, may. be,, is to be the-, judge of whether a. fair price is being paid for the. grapes,. I contend that, the bill in that respect, is too loosely drawn. If it is possible to state, in. definite terms, what) the, bounty shall be,, it ought, to. be possible to fix. definitely the percentage of. profit, above working expenses that the growee shall receive. The opinion of one gentleman filling, the position of. Minister, for Trade and Customs, as to- what is, a fail price for the grapes, may be entirely different from that, of another’ gentleman who may subsequently fill- that office. It is a well known, fact that the manufacturing and retailing, of’ alcoholic beverages- is a. very profitable, business. A small, firmly established, wine, shop cam-not be purchased unless £2,000! or £3,000 is. paid for the goodwill In- addition to* the profits made, by the retailers-, the industry has to stand, what is taken out off it by tire manufacturer and the. exporter. The cellars of the wine manufacturers, are to-day stocked with) . thousands of gallons of wine, the bounty paid on the< export of which wil’l confer no benefit upon the grower* of the- grapes. Many factors have- contributed to the- present position of the industry. This - is: a. stop-gap- measure that will benefit those who- have been able* to pile up- huge* fortunes because of the- high prices that, were made possible- by the- war. They will be able to- avoid the losses to. which extensive speculation and over capitalization have rendered them liable. These men- have taken millions of pounds from the industry, and surely they should, be asked to devote a, portion of those accumulated profits), to the finding- of new markets. The Government is. endeavouring, to bring, about unnatural ‘ economic conditions-. I do> not believe- that the- bill will in anyway help; to. solve the problem that confronts the industry. If the manufacturers’, were compelled- to make light wines such as are consumed in certain European countries from ‘childhood tomanhood,, without having a, deteriorating effect, upon the system,, and no excise duty was; charged, the growers couldwork, under decent conditions, and the monopoly that at present exists- in the manufacture of alcoholic beverages would be abolished. Some, of the wines that are at present, retailed are as harmful to the system as methylated spirits. I believe that there is* a-, simpler method- oi benefiting, the grower,, and- one- that would lessen the. supervision that, is at present required in- the industry. I, therefore,, move -
That alii the words after the word “That” he struck out with a- view- to insert in lieu thereof the word’s “ in order to give true relief to the growers of grapes the excise on wine be reduced by 4s. pei gallon.”
Sitting suspended’ from 12.55 ta 2.15 p.m.
– The amendment moved by the honorable member for “Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), places’ the House in a slight difficulty. It proposes- that “ the- excise, on wine.” be reduced by 4e. per gallon’; but- there is- no excise duty on wine-. Presumably tha honorable member meant to. propose- that the excise, on “ wine spirit “ should be- reduced, and I shall discuss the amendment on that assumption. It is rather dangerous for an honorable, member who- has. not much knowledge- of the- subject to propose, such a- sweeping and drastic amendment, which could have no effect other than- to- thwart the- effort now being made to give relief to- those- engaged in the wine-making industry, particularly the growers of doradilla grapes. It isi obvious, that the, honorable member does not appreciate, the existing position, or the effect- of his-, proposal . The reduction of the excise duty on spirits by 4s. a gallon would not substantially lower the price of fortified wine. In 6 gallons of wine there is only 1 gallon of fortifying spirit, on which the present excise duty is 6s. In other words,, only ls. of excise duty is collected on 1 gallon of fortified wine, and if the duty 011 spirit be reduced by 4s. a gallon, it will merely lower the excise duty on a pint bottle of wine from 1-Jd. to $d. Such an insignificant reduction would not help the industry: it would not stimulate the consumption of wine, either locally or abroad. The effect upon a gallon of wine exported would be negligible. The Government proposes to grant substantial assistance, namely, a bounty of 4s. a gallon on fortified sweet wine exported, so that the Australian industry may withstand the competition it meets abroad, and gain a firm footing in the British market. If a greater outlet for our wines could be found and an export trade built up, there would be a considerably increased consumption of the grapes required for the manufacture of fortifying spirit. The proposal of the honorable member for Werriwa would not do anything to assist the growers or anybody else engaged in the industry.
– I understand that onethird of a gallon of wine is fortifying spirit.
– No; the spirit added for fortifying purposes averages about one-sixth of a gallon in each gallon of fortified wine. In regard to the suggestions that have been advanced for more effectively achieving the object the Government has in view, the real purpose of the bill is to give some relief to the growers of grapes used for fortifying sweet wines. I remind the House that this measure is not the result of a casual survey of the industry by the Government. The industry has been exhaustively examined, and due weight given to the representations of those engaged in it. It is on the basis of the representations by the industry itself that the bill has been framed.
– Did the representations come from the growers also’
– Yes. The Tariff Board’s report sets out the names of the delegates to the conference on the winemaking industry, and mentions the names of eight representatives of the Federal Viticultural Council, four representatives of the South Australian vine-growers, the- doradilla associations of Merbein, Tresco, and Nyah, and representatives of the distillers and certain other interests. The conference recommended the payment of a bounty of 4s. a gallon on Australian fortified sweet wine exported, containing not less than 34 per cent, proof spirit. Honorable members have suggested that the proposal will not assist the industry, but the conference, which represented, not merely the wine-makers, but also the growers, recommended that it would be of the greatest assistance. The reason which led the representatives of the industry to that conclusion was, unquestionably, that they do not believe that their difficulties can be permanently solved unless a tremendous expansion of the consumption of wine, in which fortifying spirit is used, can be effected. It has been suggested that a bounty should be paid direct to the grower. That proposal was made by the Commonwealth to the states in order to meet the present circumstances of the growers owing to the lowness of the prices paid last season, but even the continuous payment of a bounty to the growers would do nothing to create a demand that would automatically absorb their production at decent prices. Another suggestion was that this problem might be more effectively solved by adopting the same policy as was adopted in connexion with the hop growing industry. But the position of the hopgrowers was vastly different from that of the grape-growers. A . ‘crisis had been brought about because an arrangement, whereby the brewers were to take 85 per cent, of their requirements of hops from the Australian growers, had not been properly policed, and, as ja - result the brewers were obtaining more than 15 per cent, of their requirements from abroad. In order to remedy the trouble, the Government arranged to give’ financial assistance to the growers to dispose of their surplus iu the British market, but nobody imagines that it would be possible for Australia to build up a large export trade in hops. “
– Australia has been exporting hops.
– Only a small quantity; nobody in the industry believes that there is the possibility of developing a big trade in the overseas market. But the growers of hops felt that if they could be assisted to get rid of the accumulated surplus their temporary difficulties would be removed: The troubles of the grape-growers can be permanently solved only by their going out of the industry, or by expanding the export market. So neither by a permanent bounty to the grower over and above the amount he receives for his grapes, nor by temporary assistance such as was given to the hop growing industry, can we permanently solve the difficulties of the producers of doradilla grapes. Yesterday I showed that there was no opportunity for increasing the consumption of sweet wine in the home market, and that something must be done to develop our best overseas market, that in Great Britain, by overcoming the unfortunate position in which we are placed by the operation of the British duties on light and fortified wines. We must do all we can to stimulate our trade with Great Britain, and the amendment would do practically nothing in that direction. Under the British tariff, compared with our European competitors, including Portugal, we are at a disadvantage to tho extent of ls. 6d. per gallon, and the reduction of the excise on the fortifying spirit in our wine from ls. to 4d. would not appreciably alter the situation. Therefore, the Government cannot accept the amendment. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) suggested that the operation of the bounty should be confined to one year, and to that I cannot agree. The period of twelve months would not be long enough to enable us to ascertain whether the bounty was effective in expanding the sale of our fortified wines in Great Britain, and in ensuring to the growers of grapes used for making fortifying spirit a fair and reasonable price. The honorable gentleman raised the question whether the spirit produced here was of a sufficiently high quality to be used for fortifying wine or whether it was merely a neutral spirit which, far from improving the character of the wine in which it was used, probably reduced its standard. I agree with him that, if neutral spirit is being produced, we should see that the quality of our wines is not reduced, but should make every effort to improve it. Clause 9 provides that the bounty shall be paid on fortified wines of good and marketable quality.
– That is vague.
– Yes, but it shows that the intention is to export only good wines. Although I do not suggest that under this bill the whole system of the industry will be changed, a certain change is involved, because the Customs Department will be alert to see whether wines that are being exported are of the best possible quality, and the Government will be prepared to listen to suggestions for improving our methods of inspection, and the requirements of distillation. There are great differences of opinion on this subject, but the Government has an open mind, and will take action if it is convinced that by any tightening up of the regulations respecting distillation the position can be improved.
– Could not wines be carried in cool storage, so that the fortification would bo less?
– That will have to be considered. The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) said that the bill would have the effect of giving a bounty to the wineries, arid to persons holding large stocks of wine, and would allow them to get rid of their stocks without the loss which otherwise they might incur. To a great extent I agree with him. I discussed that matter exhaustively with the conference that sat several months ago to consider the position of the grape-growing industry. But the growers will certainly not benefit from the provisions of this bill if, when the next season’s grapes have to be purchased, wine cellars are heavily stocked, and the wine-makers do not want to purchase the grapes, because they have already enough wines on hand. We have to get out of this country the wines now in stock, and reduce the stocks before next year, otherwise we shall then have exactly the same position as we had this year. As to the payments that were made to the growers last season, it must be remembered that a great quantity of grapes was bought in anticipation of this bounty and because these .proposals were under consideration. Many of those grapes would not have been bought if no such proposals had been outlined. Still, the prices that were paid could not in all cases be considered fair and reasonable. Generally speaking, the price paid was about £3 a ton, -but in some cases a higher price was paid by certain firms which stood to their obligations, and treated the growers exceptionally well. Those firms were financially strong, and were able to undertake that burden. In some districts substantially under £3 was paid, although that price was not general. Clause 10 of this bill provides that the Minister may withhold the whole or any part of the bounty if -he finds that a price which in his opinion was less than a reasonable price was paid for doradilla grapes used in the distillation of fortifying spirit contained in the wine in respect of which bounty is claimed. The Minister has the power to withhold payment of the bounty. Regarding last season, I do not suggest that it is absolutely certain that an increased price will be paid tothe grower,, bub I . am confident that in many cases the grower will benefit under that particular provision. We propose to make searching inquiry in thedifferent districts respecting the prices paid to the. growers by the wineries claiming bounty upon their wines. They will have to satisfy the Customs officials that a reasonable price has been paid, and incases where the bounty is received, further consideration must be given to the growers. No binding assurance can be given that all the growers will benefit; but I have met the ‘representative? of the wine industry, and they are -all convinced that the bounty will have a tremendous effect upon the industry, and will increase enormously the overseas market. I am confident that the growers will receive an increase on the amount that they have been paid for the past year.
– Will assistance be given to the -growers who left grapes on the vines because it would not pay to pick them?
– That situation cannot be met an any -way. A (bounty . cannot be paid upon grapes . that were left on the vines.
– Those growers are in straitened circumstances, and should ‘receive some assistance.
– It is a grave difficulty, but no solution of it canbe found. ‘We can safeguard the interests of those growers for the next season. All grapes areharvested in the various districtsat or about the same time, and thevital thing to the growers when the period for picking approaches is the pricethat they will obtain for their grapes. Every one will know the price paid in any particular district. I have not the slightest doubt that if . wine-makers were not paying a reasonable price in . any district the growers would present their ease . to . the Minister for Tradeand
Customs and drawattention to his power under the billto withhold payment of thebounty he is satisfied thatthe price paid for the grapes is not reasonable. Honorable members can -rest assured ‘that no attempt will be made to . squeeze the . growers -while the wineries ‘are receiving the benefit of the bounty. Under -this measure a ‘tremendous increase will take place in the consumption of Australians weet wines, resulting in a keener competition for wine grapes, and enhancing the price to the grower. ‘The only other point is whether the reduction of excise from 6s. to ‘5s. should apply . to . spirit . generally, . or be confined to spirit produced from . doradilla grapes.In my second-reading speech, I dealt with thedifficulties that might arise. It was foreseen by the Government that with -a lower . excise on spirit distilled from doradilla grapes., growers “would he encouraged to increase their productionofthat variety. I have already explained ‘to the House that effective steps will be taken to prevent growers -grafting over their vines to doradilla grapes : in order to obtain the benefit ofthe reduction in excise. The honorable member for Angas Mr. Gabb) raised a new point which has to be examined very closely. He instanced the case of a winery with its own distillery and owning its own grapes. That winery might., perhaps, be . growing mataro grapes and using them for producing fortifying spirit. Because of the lower excise on wine fortified ‘by doradilla spirit, it might purchase its fortifying spirit and use the -mataro grapes in . the malting ofwine, to the detriment of the small growers of mataro grapes, whose market -would thus -bereduced. I assure the honorable member that -that phase ofthe ‘subject will be fully considered, and that I shall not ‘bring in the Excise Bill until I have had afull opportunity of considering his representations. But at the moment I do not think his contention can be upheld. Mataro grapes are used for many purposes, and if the bounty is ; a success it -must increase the market for them. Even if a. -winery ‘had been using mataro grapes for . distillation purposes, and changedits policybyusing themfor wine, there would still be such an increasedmarket that I doubt whether the growers would be in jured. .
Mr.E.RILEY. - Willanythingbe done toexclude those whonow holdbig stocks ofwinefrom the provisionsof thebill?
Mr!BRUCE-No. If we exclude fromthe provisionsofthebillthose who hold largestocks ‘of wine.,we shall not !be abletoclear thecellars,inwhich event therewill not be amarketfor nextyear’s crop.I pointed out -to those engaged in the “industry, ‘asclearly ‘as the honorable member has pointedoutto me, that -the bounty would help them ‘to get rid of heavy stocks ;but Ibelieve that ‘the ‘Governmentwillbeable ‘tocontrol theposition.Clause10 givesthe Minister for TradeandCustoms power -to refuse to pay thebounty unlesshe iis satisfied that the -growers havereceivetl fair treatment. When theholders of largestocks want to clear their cellars weshall be able to force their handssoas toobtain forthe .growers paymsnts inaddition ‘to those already inade to. ‘.them.But Idonotforone moment saythat the -growers .are absolutely protected,andthat . there is -no possibility :of theownersofheavily -stocked cellarsgetting an .advantage. ‘There -are, however, two important ‘considerations to beborne inmind.One isthat many of .the cellars arestocked -very much more heavily -than ‘they would have been, and the wineries concerned have ‘been involved in very ‘heavy expenditure, because ofthe request made to them tobuy the grapes for this season, howevermuch involved . financially they -might be.The Government told themthatifthey .did so it wouldassist them .out .of their difficulties bysubmitting to .Parliamentameasure like the bill now .unfterconsideration. Whether these people thatnoone desires to assistare benefited or not, it isnecessary .to -.make certain . thatthe wine is moved -out of theover-stockedcellass, so that when the .next .season .arrives -the growers ‘willnotbe faced with the -same problems as face themnow.
Mr.COOK (Indi) .[2,49].- The hon- norable member for Werriwa (‘Mr. Lazzarini) -.would -be wise to withdraw his amendment. Iam .guidedin myviews entirely by (those ‘engaged in the ‘industry -the .growers and wine-makers. The Priime Minister indicated that ‘this question had agitated the industry -fortwelve or ‘eig’hteen months, ‘and that there wasa differenceof ‘opinion whether -a reduction from6s. -to 3s. ‘should ‘hemade in the excise ‘duty, or a ‘bounty should be provided.For a consrderable time ‘the forces were fairly equally divided, but finally it was -unanimously agreed to ask for ,abounty ;of 4s. a gallon .on - wine for export -containing 34percent. ;of proof spirit. I attended -a conference of growers ,and wine-makers atRutherglen, and those present were :unanimoue. Learned as .thehonorable member for Werniwa (Mr. Lazzarini) may be, I .assume “that ‘those who were present at thatconference ‘understood their own (business better than he does. While the -bill ‘does not please every .one, it jrepresents an honest attempt, to solve sa difficuit -.prdblem.Clauses ‘7 and 10 clearly protect the growers of doradillagrapes. I believe the Government has given special consideration to them, because it waslargely, if -not en- tirely, at the request of the “State ‘Governanents that thedoradilla vines were planted. There as no.doubt ‘that thepayment of abounty will benefitgrowers of all kinds ofgrapes, for -as soon as we .get rid -ofthesuppliesand ‘-makeroomfor faiture crops, the whole ‘industry willbenefit. -Iamnotclear whether exported wines fortified with spirit made from other than ‘doradilla grapes will receive the bounty.
Mr.Bruce. - All fortified wines exportedwill participate.
Mr.COOK. - That should relieve the mindof .the honorable memberfor Werriwa.Fortified spirit made from grapes ‘usually sold as dried fruits will participate in thebounty equally with spirit made from doradillagrapes. Asthebounty isacceptable to the wine industry, as many deputations on -the subjecthave waited upon the ‘Prime Minister and theMinister for ‘Trade and Customs, and -as the Tariff Board has thoroughly investigated the circumstances, the House should pass the bill.
Mr.ANSTEY (Bourke) [2.55].- It is quite true that the amendment has no application, because no excise duty is levied on wine.Remarkably conflicting views havebeen expressed on the bill. I suppose every meinber of the House desires that legislationshould ‘be enacted to keep men on the land rather than to driv.e them off it, but the methods .advocated to attain that end are peculiar. I listened with interest ‘to the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann). The honorable member for Indi(Mr.Cook) -said he -knew nothing of the subject, but had confidencein those who did. That is a very easy way for him to evade his obligations as a public man. It is our duty to see that public money is wisely and properly spent, and we are all agreed that the men whom the State Governments placed on the land, and compelled to engage in this industry, should be assisted to remain there. From personal knowledge, I can say that two years ago the distillers offered to give to the growers of doradilla grapes the whole of any amount of excise duty remitted. That would have been a direct subsidy to the growers. The object of the distillers was purely selfish, but I am now looking at it from the point of view, not of the distillers, but of the growers. The distillers wanted to enlarge their business, and to sell their spirits in competition with imported spirits. “ It may be desirable,” says the Government, “to assist the growers of doradilla grapes, but we are certainly not going to do it by reducing the excise duty, because that would reduce the imports of spirits, and thus affect customs revenue.” The proposal in the bill is to relieve the growers by paying a bounty on exported wines. I have not spoken previously because I had no knowledge of the subject, and was looking for information, but even from those who support the bill information can be obtained only by dragging it out. The growers of doradilla grapes say that they are asking not for payment from the national revenue, but merely for a refund of taxation already paid by them. The grower can produce from 2 to 8 tons per acre of these grapes, according to whether his land is irrigated or not. Assuming the average production to be 5 tons per acre, and that from each ton of grapes 33 gallons of spirit can be produced, it is clear that the production of spirit per acre is, roughly, 165 gallons. This spirit is taxed at the rate of 6s. per gallon, so that every acre brought under cultivation of doradilla grapes carries an excise tax of about £50. The growers say that all that they ask us to do is to give thom a refund in bounty of part of this enormous taxation upon the acreage which they have been forced, in some cases by the State Governments, to put under cultivation for these grapes.
– The growers do not pay the tax referred to.
– I did not say that they do. I say that that is what they say. That is the basis of their claim. In answer to the objections of the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E, Riley), they say, “ We are not proposing- that something should be given us from the national revenue. What we are asking for is merely a refund of moneys we are contributing to the revenue from excise.” They say that an immense tax has been imposed upon the product of their industry, and they ask for a refund. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) moves an amendment on the bill, and those interested then say, “ There is no such excise. It does not work out in that way at all. As a matter of fact, what happens is that the wine contains naturally 26 per cent, of spirit, and to bring fortified wine up to 34 per cent, only an additional 8 per cent, of spirit requires to be added, and it is only to this additional 8 per cent, of spirit that the excise duty applies.” They contend that there is no- such thing as an excise ‘ duty of 6s. per gallon, and that, as the duty is payable only on the 8 per cent, of spirit which has to be added for the fortification of wines, there is, roughly, in 12 gallons of wine only 1 gallon of spirit upon which duty should be paid, and, therefore, the duty levied on each gallon of wine exported from this country is, roughly, only 6d. per gallon. Yet under this measure the Government proposes to pay a bounty of 4s. per gallon.
– They are giving the bounty on wine, and not on spirit.
– That is so. The responsibility for what is being done mustrest with the Government. They feel bound to maintain an industry which has expanded largely as a result of their policy.. They must meet the situation. I say that all bounties are a tax upon the public revenue, and they never achieve the end for which they are designed. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) yesterday pointed out that what is really crippling the primary industries is not the cost of production, but the enormous charges which are made by middlemen. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) has pointed out that by the use of inferior spirit the best wines can be destroyed. I was a member of the Navigation Commission, and one of the most remarkable things that came out during the investigations of the commission was that, while primary producers were complaining that they were being taxed enormously by high freights charged on the coast, the cost of taking cargo out of one ship and putting it into another is greater than the actual cost of transportation. Whilst it costs £4 10s. per ton to send goods by the Peninsular and Oriental Company’s boats from Sydney to London, a distance of 12,000 miles, after the goods have left the ship’s slings in London, and before they get into the hands of the actual buyers, another 100 per cent, is added. The honorable member for Wimmera showed that whilst the value of certain products is about £57 per ton in Great Britain, 60 per cent, of this amount is taken by the various middlemen who handle the product, as commission charges, cost of transportation, warehouse charges, and so on. Although the price obtainable for what he produces is a magnificent one, the man on the land can obtain little or nothing for his labour, because of the deductions which are made by all those through whose hands the product is passed. This is the matter with which the Government must eventually deal. By the proposal under consideration, as pointed out by the honorable member for Perth, we are keeping the producers on the soil for another twelve months or two years, but the whole system must collapse eventually. The Government must take responsibility for the methods it proposes. The payment of a subsidy of 4s. per gallon upon the export of wine may give the growers of grapes some temporary relief, but it will not provide anything like a permanent solution of the difficulty. No proposal to deal with the situation, either at home or abroad, can permanently benefit the actual producers whilst there is a ring to whom they must sell their .products ; and they are the victims also of an overseas shipping ring and an overseas set of buyers. Whilst the problem of dealing with these people remains unsolved all bounties on export ai-e only a waste of public money.
.- I must dissociate myself from the amendment which has been moved from this side. I have already- said that it is my intention to vote for the bill. I approached the Government on numerous occasions in connexion with this matter, and I should not be playing the game if I did not now support the measure. When discussing the budget recently, I attacked the Government somewhat bitterly for their proposals ‘ to reduce taxation in different ways. No doubt, it would be popular to support a reduction of the excise duty, but although I know that the vote could not be carried against the Government, I do not think I should support the proposal. I understand that there is a measure to be introduced to provide foi the reduction of the excise duty on fortifying spirit by ls. per gallon. If the amendment were carried, it would destroy the bill. The measure provides for an export bounty to be paid from the excise revenue. It might be said that the revenue for the payment of the bounty might be otherwise obtained, but the Government has made no proposal of that kind. This, I think, is the first instance in which a bounty is proposed to enable us to force our way. into overseas markets. I believe that ‘ the growers in this industry will be benefited by the bill, and I cannot, therefore, support the amendment.
.- I believe that clause 6 of the bill will defeat the object which the Government has in view. It is provided that the bounty shall be payable to the exporter of wine. It i3 not my province to suggest to the Government in what way the bounty might be paid to the grower, but I remind honorable members that the principle adopted in this measure is a departure from that which was adopted in the legislation providing for a bounty to the producers of beef. I have no doubt that honorable members generally would support the bill if it were clear that the growers of grapes, whom we desire to assist, would benefit under it. There are reasons for doubting whether the distillers will be prepared to do what is fair to the growers. We know what has happened in connexion with Australian brandy in the last few years. At the present time, the Customs duty on brandy is 36s. per gallon, and the excise duty 26s. per gallon. This represents a protection in favour of local distillers of 10s. per gallon, or about ls. 8d. per bottle. Previous to the war, a bottle of Australian brandy could be purchased for 5s. Now the price is anything up to lis. per bottle. Allowing for the extra duty imposed during the war, and adding this to the pre-war price, Australian brandy should now be obtainable at 7s. 2d., instead of lis. per bottle. The extra profit of 3s. lOd. per bottle is retained by the local distillers.. Of. course, we knew, that many people willdrink only imported; brandy, but I believe that if the Australian- brandy were sold at from. 7s. to 7s. 6d. per bottle; the result would be increasedsales and a: reduction in. the. quantity- of.brandy- imported-.. The: brandy consumption of Australia) is; roughly, 400,000 gallons per annum, and our production is 200,000. gallons,. which means, that, we import: half ofourrequirements.. There would be: no:reason for- that, if thelocally-produced: article were- sold at at reasonable price. We should have no more- reason- to- import brandy than. France has-. I agree with thehonorable member for’ Perth (Mr: Mann)’ that this legislation should’ remain effective’ for one year only. The mea- sure could- easily be re-enacted ifit were found to bedesirable to continue it, and’ if a shorter period’ were agreed1 to in the first’ place it. would’ doubtless cause, the purchasers- of doradilla grapes to be. more careful.
Amendment negatived .
Original question resolved- in the- affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses1 to 3 agreed’ to.
Clause. 4’ (Specification of bounty).
– -I understand that the Government’ wilh not agree to limit the duration of the bill’ to one year, but I hope that it will’ accept an amendment providing for a twoyears limit. I’ move -
That, the word “twenty-seven “ be left, out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word? “twenty-six.”
If that amendment is made,, the clause will provide that the bounty shall, bepayable in. respect of. wine exported up- to the end of August,. 1926.
– Honorable members will realise that it will take some time to develop an export trade even with the aid of the bounty, and although the Government is not anxious to continue a measure of. this, kind if it is not effective, it feels’ that, it should be given, sufficient time to prove its value.. I assure honorable members that unless the two purposes, which the Government has in mind, namely, the ex- pamsionof the export trade and the payment of. a.fair price; to thegrape-growers, are; obtained’, the Government; will not propose the. re-enactmentof the measure. I accept thehonorable member’s amend- ment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 5 (Rate ofbounty).
– I. do- not intend to. oppose this, clause, f or I. in. common, with, other hono-able members on.this side, of the committee,,agree that, everything possible should be done- toassist,ourprimary. industries;The Govermment.is paying; £1,700,000 a year in bounties tovariousindustries, and it is high, time that itdid something to assist the. gold.mining;industry
Mr.FENTON (Maribyrnong). [3.24]- Can the Prime Minister tell us-, whether any investigation has been made into. the. condition of the wine-making industry-. About two years ago- a big, firm, of wine- m akers in South Australia purchased’ the business, of a,big, firmin Victoria and I understand that several’ amalgamations have been effected, lately. We. should avoid paying bounties to a. few. very, wealthy firms which axe well able to. care for- themselves.. Unless; we are careful, weshall find. ourselves, paying bounties- to big, wine combines, instead of to. the primary, producers- whom we really desire to. help.
;. - I assure the honorable member that the Tariff Board has made a very exhaustive investigation, of” the wine-making industry… I. supposes that, the affairs of no. other industry have been, so closely examined. The Government intends’ to exercise all the powers given to it to ensure that the grape-growers shall’ reap thebenefit from the payment of the bounty.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7(Conditions of payment of Bounty).
.- What, will be the position in respect of wine, which-, may be exported next month? Will the. wine-makers be required, to satisfy, the. Minister that they paid, a fair price for. the grapes used -to . make the -fortified spirit whichit contains?
Mr.BRUCE (Flinders- Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs) [3.28]. - Honorable members know that the real trouble is in regard to the price paid for the doradilla grapes grown in thepast . season. Allreasonablemeans willbe takentoensurethat the growers of the grapesusedtomake fortifying spiritfor thewine already manuf actured received a fair price for theirproduct, but thereal purposeof the measure is to meet the serious positionof ‘the industry.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses8 and9 agreed to.
Clause 10 -
The ‘Minister -may withhold the whole or any part of the bounty if lie finds that a price, which in his opinion was less than a reasonable price, was paid lor anydoradilla grapes used in the production of thefortifying spirit contained in the wine ‘in respect of which the bountyis claimed.
.According to ‘this ‘clause the Minister is to judgewhether the doradillagrapegrowersreceiveda ‘fairpriceforthe grapes already sold to the wine-makers. Uponwhat factswill the Minister decide whether -a reasonable price hasbeenpaid ? Will he inquire of the growers whether theirsalesshowed -a profitor a loss ? Somemachinery ‘must ‘be provided tocollect . data which will enablethe . Minister to . arriveat a ‘decision.I am not satisfied that the interests . of thegrowers will beprotected.
.- I have been approached by persons who are interestedinfortifying spirit tosee ifprovision can be made which . will guarantee thema fair price. That -matter is to . a certain extent covered by the (clause ; ibut what will be . the position if . the fortifying spirit has . been purchased during aglut period . at . a low , price . ?
Mr..E.RILEY (South Sydney) [3.34]. - I ‘emphasizemyoriginal objectionto this . clause. The grape-growers have ‘complained that becauseof the ‘lowprice whichthey have received they are ‘practically insolvent,and thebanks will not assist them. Had thewine merchants given them a fairdeal theywould notbe in that position. ‘There are at present stocksof ‘wine that have ‘been manufactured from grapes for which an average ofonly ¼d. alb. hasbeen paid. I want toprotect thegeneralpublic from men -whoare ; atpresentmaking a good deal of money from ; the (industry. They -may claim thatthey . acted -generously when they gave¼d alb.., because,butfor them thegrowerswould ‘not have ‘been able ‘to dispose of their grapesat all, and that -on thataccountthey are entitled to receive the bounty. I ask the . PrimeMinister to ‘declineto pay the ‘‘bounty on wine that -isalready ‘manufactured. It is not fair ‘that menwhohave profited by the overproduction of grapes should benefit further from the bounty. As soon as ‘the bill becomes operative they will dispose of all the wine they have in their stores.
– And immediately the price of grapes will advance.
– My objection is that they have paid onlya nominal price (for the grapes. If . a big -demand is ‘created, and they areabletodisposeof their stocksof wine., a better pricemay be receivedby -thegrowersfornext . season’s grapes. I ‘believethatto be the ‘object of ‘thePrime . Minister. But why should thesemenwhohold largestocks -ofwine begiven . thebenefit -of the bounty when they have not paid : a fair . -price for -the grapes from which that wine has been manufactured?Only wine ‘.that has ‘been madefrom grapes for ‘which . a fair price hasbeenpaid should ‘be entitledtothe bounty.
Mr.BRUCE (-Flinders- “Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs) [3.37].- - -The matter raised by . the honor- ablemember for East ‘Sydney -(Mr. . E.. Riley) has -already been discussed. If- his proposal -wereadopted, theobject we -have in -mind would be completely . defeated. We desire to . build up a new market for wines containing the fortifying spirit thathasbeen distilled . from doradilla grapes particularly. ‘The honorable member is greatly concerned . about the payment of ‘thebounty to manufacturers who haveobtainedsuppliesof grapes at a low price; he believes that theywill be enabledto make an enormous . and an indecent profit. Prior to last season a reasonable price was paid for grapes from which the fortifying spirit was distilled. Thetrouble came ‘toa headlast season. A short while agothe ‘growers received veryhigh prices, : andwere ina satisfactoryposition. A large -quantity of -the wine that is now stored contains fortifying spirit that was ‘distilled from -grapes purchased prior to last season. The Minister for Trade and Customs will have power to require the production of evidence to satisfy him that a reasonable price was paid for the grapes used in the distillation of the fortified spirit. The officers of the department can easily ascertain the prices that were paid in the different districts. It has been suggested that the price paid for last season’s crop was so low as to be absolutely unprofitable to the growers. It must be remembered that something like £3 a ton was paid throughout; and in view of all the circumstances many of the wine makers had to stretch their own position very considerably to pay even that price. The Minister will determine on the evidence that is placed before him whether a reasonable price has been paid. If it has, he will approve of the payment of the bounty. If it has not, he can declare that the bounty shall not be paid. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) raised a very important point which has aparticular application to a co-operative distillery, as the final payment to the grower depends upon the price at which the distilled spirit is sold. The bill provides that certain records must be kept, and it can easily be seen whether a reasonable price was paid for spirit purchased from a co-operative factory. In reply to the honorable member for- Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), I point out that it is not a matter of the Minister making a few vague inquiries from the purchaser of the spirit or the doradilla grape, and being satisfied with the information furnished. The bill requires certain records to be kept. Under clause 7 every claimant of bounty is obliged to fulfil certain requirements, and under clause 11 he is obliged to keep proper and separate books of account showing in detail -
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 11 to 14 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Billread a third time.
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Department - Estimates of expenditure 1924-5 - Explanatory statement prepared by direction of the Minister for Defence.
National Debt Sinking Fund Act-National Debt Commission - First annual report for period ended 30th June, 1924.
Ordered to be printed -
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 121, 122, 123.
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired in New South Wales at - North Sydney, Orange.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. The Argus this morning contains a report of the discussion which took place last night on the amendment moved by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) to reduce the salary of the Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Department by £1 in order to give honorable members the opportunity to voice their opinion upon the action of the Government in paying £137,500 to Bawra. This report contains the following statement : -
– (T.), after examining the position, said that he had come to the conclusion that it was reasonable to assume that some money was due.
Of course, that is entirely contrary to what I said.
– It was what I said.
– The interjection by the Minister for Trade and Customs leads me to believe that the Argus has attributed to me the remarks of some other speaker, and, although it may not see fit to make a correction - I hope it does - I shall be satisfied if the correction is made in Mansard. I do not wish it to go out to the public that I believe that any money was due by the Commonwealth Government to Bawra.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.49 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 August 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1924/19240829_reps_9_108/>.