House of Representatives
12 May 1931

12th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. Norman Makin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and offered prayers.

page 1747


“South Australian Worker “ : Attack on Mr. Speaker.


.- On a question of privilege, I desire to bring before the House certainstatements published in the South Australian Worker, a newspaper circulating throughout the Commonwealth. Those statements I regard as a grave reflection on you, Mr. Speaker, and, therefore a breach of privilege. In accordance with Standing

Order 285 I produce a copy of the paper, which discloses that the name of the printer and publisher is Douglas Henry Bardolph, and that it is published under the authority of the United Trades and Labour Council, Port Adelaide District Trades and Labour Council, the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, and the South Australian Branch of the Waterside Workers ‘Federation.

No institution ranks higher in the >mind8 of British people than their Parliament. That is not to be wondered at when one realizes that Parliament, as we know it to-day, is the result of centuries of struggle by Englishmen for selfexpression and self-determination. The history of the Mother of Parliaments, the House of Commons, is the political, religious, industrial, and social history of England. Thu members of this Parliament have a duty to see that the privileges and liberties for which our ancestors fought through the centuries are not filched from us. The greatest gift in the hands of Parliament is the Speakership, If the duties and responsibilities that devolve upon a private member are great, how much greater are those of the gentleman chosen to preside over this assembly. The Speaker is vested with powers to enable him to discharge these duties and to preserve the dignity of his office, but unless the House will support him in all things, his power is reduced to nought. If tho attack by the South Australian Worker were directed against you, Mr. Speaker, in your capacity as the honorable member for Hindmarsh, I would be silent, for you would be well able to deal with the offenders without the aid of this House, but it is not fitting that Parliament should permit a direct attack upon the Speaker of this House to pass unchallenged. You, Mr. Speaker, have been placed in your high office by the members of this House, and it is’ our duty to help you to defend the privileges of your position.

The article to which I take exception relates to your recent decision to exclude from this House Mr. Alexander, of the Melbourne Herald, and is headed -

Amateur Parson Never a Statesman and Usually a Small Tyrant.

It says, inter aiia -

How surprising and annoying it must be to the bombastic - Mr. Makin to Bad that the President of the Senate refuses to apply the ruling to that House , . . Putting aside all the rhodomontade about the power of the Speaker and the authority nf the Government, aB well as the nonsense about the divulging of affairs nf State, the case boils down to one of spitefulness.

If an honorable member were to express himself in such language in this chamber he would be called to order, and if he refused to obey the instruction of the Chair, the House would order his removal from the chamber. If an honorable member, with all the privileges that attach to iiia position, may not express himself in such language, how much greater is the offence when committed by persons outside this Parliament. We must remember that a blow aimed at the Speaker is a blow aimed at this Parliament, and even at the people who elected us to represent them. I quote again from the article -

It is pitiable to find that the Government was despicable enough to enlist the Speaker in its vindictive punishment. Not content with the exclusion of Mr.. Alexander from the public offices the Speaker was induced to seclude him from Parliament House. By what right lie did so, seeing that Mr. Alexander had not touched any documents belonging to Parliament, is a mystery . . . His subserviency in such a matter can lead only to degradation of office of Speaker.

I hope that the House will deal with this matter with the seriousness it merits. Every honorable member should be ready to defend the honour of the Speaker, but this journal, not content with attacking your official decision, proceeds to refer to one phase of your private life, and endeavours to oast ridicule on you by referring to the manner in which you read the Lord’s Prayer in this chamber. I do not propose to read the whole of this attack; I have quoted sufficient to convince honorable members that action should be taken by this House to defend its Speaker and itself, The British sense of liberty allows every individual, whether in or outside Parliament, liberty of thought and freedom of speech; but in this article liberty has degenerated into unbridled licence, and freedom of the press into journalistic freebooting There have been numerous cases’ in which journalists have been charged with breach of privilege. In 1913 two such cases occurred in connexion with this House. On the 28th October of that year the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) moved that the editor of the Argus should be brought before the bar of the House, and made to answer for certain statements that had appeared in the Argus. On the 13th November, Mr. Roberts, a South Australian member, moved a similar motion in respect of the editor of the Age.

In the 12th edition of May, which I quote in preference to the 10th edition, because it gives the case in greater detail, a case is recorded which bears a close relation to that we are now considering. On page 82 it is reported as follows: -

On the nth February, 1774, the Speaker informed the House of a letter in the Public Advertiser newspaper addressed to him reflecting on hia character and his conduct as Speaker. The House ordered H. S. Woodfall the printer, to attend, and resolved that the letter was “ a false, malicious and scandalous libel highly reflecting on the character of the Speaker of this House to the dishonour of this House and in violation to the privileges thereof “. The printer was declared to be guilty of a breach of privilege and committed to the custody of the Serjeant-at-Arms.

There are other cases I might quote, including a notable one in Western Australia. The honorable member foi Swan (Mr. Gregory) will remember it well. A journalist was brought before the House for a breach of privilege, and was handed over to the custody of the Serjeant-at-Arms, and remained in hia custody for a considerable period. I trust that I have said enough on this subject to impress honorable members with the seriousness of the matter at issue. The Speaker has been carrying out to the best of his ability his duties as officer presiding over the deliberations of this House, and this newspaper has, in a most vindictive manner, attacked him. Therefore I move -

That the comments of the South Australian Worker on the actions of the Honorable the Speaker and his control of the business of this House are gross and malicious misrepresentations of the facts, and that the editor of the South Australian Worker and the publisher, Douglas Henry Bardolf, are guilty of contempt.

Darling Downs

– In seconding the motion I desire to associate myself with the statements of the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Bayley). I can conceive of nothing” which this House should more jealously guard than its privileges, and in this case a deliberate attack has been made on those privileges. I regard you, Mr. Speaker, primarily as the guardian of the privileges of this House., and in a very particular way the upholder of its authority and dignity. I regret, therefore, that a newspaper published in Australia has seen fit to depart from the recognized customs of journalism to the extent of insulting you, and, indirectly, insulting this House. “Whether a breach of privilege has been committed is for this House to determine, but in view of the facts which have been presented to the House by the mover of this motion, there can. I submit, be no escape from the conclusion that a direct affront has been offered to you as Speaker, and to this House in its corporate capacity. The honorable member for Oxley has pointed out that any breach of privilege by a member of this House would be easily dealt with, because it would be instantly recognized, and; immediately punished. The fact that the breach has been committed by an outsider should not render him immune from punishment. In this case, a particularly insidious attack has been made, and for that reason particular steps should be taken to punish the offender. Justification for the charge laid by the honorable member for Oxley will be found in three paragraphs of the article under discussion. In the first the editor uses these words -

Putting aside all the rhodomontade about the power of the Speaker and the authority of the Government-

I find in that statement a suggestion that you have exercised despotic powers in the discharge of your duties-

Motion (by Mr. Scullin) agreed to -

That the question be now put.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

page 1750




– Is the Minister for Home Affairs able to furnish honorable members with the latest figures regarding the Tasmanian elections?


– If the honorable member is desirous of obtaining such information, I shall endeavour to make it available to him.


– In view of the success which attended the visit of the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) to Tasmania on an official visit, will the Prime Minister make available the services of the Treasurer to any State in which an election is imminent?

Question not answered.

page 1750




– Can the Minister for Home Affairs state whether the final figures have been received regarding the recent City Council elections in Brisbane? Is it a fact that, as a result of the vote taken on a property franchise, members of the Nationalist party in that district have evinced a keen desire to change the name of their organization ?


– It is a fact that a majority of Labour candidateswere returned at that election.

page 1750




– Has the AttorneyGeneral noticed that the Australian shipowners, one day before the judgment of the Court was given, took action in relation to the matter recently adjudicated upon by the High Court? Can the Attorney-General say whether the shipowners had any inside knowledge of the contents of the judgment before it was made public?

Attorney-General · BATMAN, VICTORIA · ALP

– I am not able to say whether any inside knowledge concerning the judgment was made available to any persons, ship-owners, or others, before the judgment was published.

HUNTER, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; LANG LAB from 1931; ALP from 1936

– In view of the disturbed condition on the waterfront at Newcastle, what steps, if any, does the AttorneyGeneral propose to take to enforce the will of this Parliament with regard to the engagement of waterside workers?

Minister for External Affairs · YARRA, VICTORIA · ALP

– I shall answer that question on behalf of the Government. We have no official knowledge of the decision of the High Court with regard to regulations which, in our opinion, were not laid on the table in the Senate. Although that chamber professed to disallow them, the High Court’s decision does not affect the power of this Government to issue regulations, and the Government will not allow the members of another place, who were not before the electors at the 1929 election, to govern this country. This Government will issue regulations as fast as the Senate may disallow them, and it will act in accordance with its powers under legislation initiated by the late Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Latham.

Mr Latham:

– The action is being taken under the Acts Interpretation Act of 1904.


– We shall use the power vested in the Government under the Transport Workers Act, which, as I have said, was introduced by the previous Government. Keeping within the four comers of that act, we will protect the waterside workers of this country from the vindictiveness of the ship-owners.

page 1750




– Can the Prime Minister say if the Government has yet received a report from Mr. H. W. Gepp and Mr. L. H. Boas dealing with the establishment of the newsprint industry in Tasmania, and, if so, when will it be made available?


– The report has just come to hand. I hope to be able to lay it upon the table of the House to-morrow.

page 1750


(No. 2).

Examination ofsir Robert Gibson in the Senate.


– Does the Prime Minister endorse the opinion expressed by Sir Robert Gibson, Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank, on Wednesday last, in another place, that he would sooner default to the people of Australia than to people overseas.


– In reply to the honorable member-

Mr SPEAKER (Hon Norman Makin:

– Order! There can be no expression of opinion in reply to a question.


– I merely asked the Prime Minister if he endorsed the opinion.


– A reply by the Prime Minister to the honorable member’s question would be the expression of an opinion. The question seems, also, to ask for a statement of Government policy, which cannot be enunciated in reply to a question.

page 1751




– In view of the declaration by the Prime Minister during the 1929 election that, if returned to power, the Government would repeal the Transport Workers Act, can the right honorable gentleman say if it is the intention of the Government to introduce this session a bill to give effect to that promise?


– We shall repeal the Transport Workers Act when we deem that to be necessary. In the meantime we shall operate it.

page 1751




– Is it the intention of the Government to conscript all the wageearners of this country into those trade unions which subscribe to the political funds of the Australian Labour Party?


– The only conscriptionists in this House are on the other aide.



– By way of personal explanation, I direct attention to the following statement which appeared in the Sydney Labor Daily, to-day : -

That some members of Parliament had been in the habit of selling their supplies of “On Service” stamps to philatelists was given by the Postmaster-General (Mr. A. Green) to-day, as the reason for the abolition of the ordinary postage stamps perforated with the letters “ O.S.” and supplied free to members of Parliament for official business.

This item of news is alleged to have been furnished to the Labor Daily by its Canberra representative yesterday. Since I was in Melbourne yesterday, obviously I could not have supplied the information.

Further I made no such statement as is attributed to me. A question was asked of me yesterday by a reporter in Melbourne with regard to the new issue of stamps, and it was suggested that probably some members of Parliament had sold their stamps. I emphatically deny having said that any federal member had sold his “ O.S.” stamps.

page 1751




– Again I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde) when we may expect to receive the Tariff Board’s reports dealing with section 4 of the Tariff Schedule which, I presume, we shall be discussing this afternoon. Up to the present only about onehalf of the reports .dealing with that section have been placed in the hands of honorable members. The same may be said of those concerning the items in section 5.

Minister for Trade and Customs · CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– Tariff items dealing with revenue are not usually referred to the Tariff Board for report. Only those items relating to duties which are protective in their nature are submitted to the board, and the reports concerning them have been made available from time to time as soon as they have been considered by the Government. There has been no departure from the usual practice.

page 1751




– I ask the Treasurer is it a fact that, during his absence, a modern Delphic oracle appeared in another place, and suggested that the Bank of England should come to the assistance of Australia? Further, will the Treasurer see that no fiduciary notes are imported - that on the contrary we shall depend upon our own fiduciary notes?


– The matter will be taken into consideration.

page 1751



Message from Canberra.


– The following paragraph appeared in the Canberra Times of the 8th instant -

The Postmaster-General (Mr. Green) stated yesterday that a congress to advocate the prevention of war was being hold at Washington on May 18, and the educational authorities of Great Britain were arranging for a child to speak from the House of Commons by wireless to Washington. There would be exchanges of peace talk from many countries of the world through the wireless telephone on that day.

Mr. Green added that he had received a communication asking Australia to get a child of 32 years of age to speak from Canberra to the child in London and to give a message from Australia. He was getting into touch with the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr. Blakeley) with a view of rinding a child with a suitable voice.

As the Legacy Club throughout the Commonwealth takes particular care of the children of deceased soldiers, would it not be fitting for a war orphan to broadcast this message? Will the Minister for Home Affairs, therefore, invite the Canberra Legacy Club to nominate a suitable child for this purpose1?


– The Prime Minister has kindly consented to draft a message that will be broadcast by a Canberra child to the House of Commons, whence it will be broadcast to Washington by a child from the House of Commons. The question is not so much one of selecting a child from any section of society as of choosing a child with a good carrying voice. The object of the headmaster of Telopea Park School will be to select several alternative voices for trial over the wire. Possibly there will be a child of a returned soldier among those tested.

page 1752



UNEMPLOYMENT Camp - Mosquito Menace.


– Will the Minister for Home Affairs state whether it is a fact that electric light and water have been disconnected from the camp in Canberra where the unemployed are housed? If so, will he inform this House who was responsible for that action being taken ?


– The water supply has not been disconnected from the camp referred to, and electric lighting has been connected with it only on those occasions when different bodies have entertained the unemployed there.


– Is the Minister for Health aware that there is gradually developing in this territory a menace from mosquitoes, and that although the numbers of this pest are seriously increasing no action is being taken to stop their invasion, notwithstanding the fact that there are in the Territory many medical officers and technical experts? Does the Minister know that in tropical Queensland this problem is being tackled effectively? As it is proposed that at some future date there shall be lakes in Canberra, and in view of the fact that delay in taking steps to deal with the question may have serious results, will the Minister make inquiries to ascertain whether the measures adopted in tropical Queensland to get rid of this menace cannot be taken here?


-This is the first that I have heard of a mosquito plague in Canberra. I certainly have neither seen nor felt many mosquitoes here. If there is a likelihood of a plague of mosquitoes, the honorable member can rest assured that the Health Department will do everything possible to prevent it.

page 1752



Dismissal of Returned Soldiers


– On the 29th April last, in the course of a debate concerning the dismissal of returned soldiers from the Postal Department, the PostmasterGeneral expressed sympathy with these men, and said that under the Public Service Act he had no option but to dismiss temporary employees. He suggested, however, that an amendment of the act might be made. Has he given further consideration to the matter, and has the Government in prospect any proposal to amend the act in the required direction ?


– What I said was that, until the act had been amended, the policy adopted must be accepted. I further gave it as my opinion that there must be temporary employees in government departments. I am not in a position to recommend an amendment of the act to make all temporary men permanent; nor do I think that that would be practicable. Nearly all the temporary employees in the Postal Department are returned soldiers, and it would be not only absolutely futile, but also wrong, to make them permanent employees, because we already have a large surplus of permanent as well as temporary men.

page 1753



Suggested Suspension of Standing Orders


– Will the Prime Minister indicate to the House the Standing Orders that he indicated in general terms, in Melbourne during the week-end, ought to be suspended, in order to facilitate the co-operation of all political parties on a non-party basis, so that honorable members might be untrammelled in giving free expression to their ideas?


– I suggest the suspension of all the Standing Orders that affect the conduct of the business of this House, so that we may discuss matters untrammelled by the formalities that now surround parliamentary debates, as is the case when representatives of different interests meet in conference. I believe that the honorable member is well aware of the Standing Orders that would have to be suspended to enable discussions to take place in a friendly and conversational manner rather than along the lines of ordinary parliamentary debates.

page 1753




– Will the Prime Minister ask the Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board whether there is any, and if so what, alternative to the shipment of gold overseas to meet certain commitments of the Commonwealth Government that fall due in June?


– I have already done so.

page 1753



Imposts and Manufactures


asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. What was the quantity and value of glucose imported into Australia during each year from 1920 to 1930, and from what countries was such glucose imported?
  2. What was the quantity and value of glucose manufactured in Australia during each of the years 1926 to 1930?

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. Imports of glucose are not recorded according to calendar years. The table attached gives the imports in financial years, which include most of the calendar years mentioned.
  2. The production of glucose in Australia is not recorded in the official statistics.

page 1753



Imports and Exports


asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. . What was the quantity of maize imported into Australia for the years 1928, 1929, and 1930, and from what countries was such maize imported ?
  2. What was the quantity of maize exported during the years 1928, 1929, and 1930, and to what countries was such maize exported?
  3. What quantity of maize was produced in each State of the Commonwealth for the years 1928, 1929, and 1930?

-The information required is not recorded according to calendar years. The following tables give par ticulars for the financial years 1927-28, 1928-29, and 1929-30:-

page 1754




asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Can he give any information concerning the report of the special committee appointed by the Commonwealth Government to inquire into the importations of petrol and oils?
  2. Is it a fact that certain companies have refused to make their accounts available for inspection; if so, what action does the Government contemplate to deal with this matter ?
  3. As this is a question of urgent public importance, will the Government undertake to have some adequate form of inquiry made to clear the matter up?

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - 1 and 3. The figures comprised in the report are at present being analysed, and I hope to be in a position at an early date to make an announcement as to what action the Government proposes to take.

  1. I would refer the honorable member to paragraph 16 (page 6) of the report, Parlia- mentary Paper No. 180, 1929-30-31, in which it is stated that the Vacuum Oil Company Proprietary Limited, had refused unrestricted access to the company’sbooks and records.

asked the Prime Minister, upon, notice -

In view of the disclosures made by the special committee appointed by theGovernment relative to the costs and profits of some of the petrol and oil importing and distributing companies in Australia, and having particular regard to the reported refusal of certain of the interests concerned to make their accounts available, will his Government consider the appointment of a royal commission to inquire into the petrol importing and distributing undertakings in Australia,to enable it to be determined definitely whether the owners of the600,000 motor vehicles in Australia are being exploited, and to guide the Government in any necessary protective legislation ?


– The figures comprised in the report tabled in this House are at present being analysed, and, when this work has been completed an an nouncement will be made by the Government as to theaction it is proposed to take in the matter.


– On the 17th March, the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) asked me the following questions, upon notice -

  1. Is he in a position tostate the retail price per gallon of petrol in the capital city of each State of the Commonwealth, for -

    1. Shell, at the bowsers, andin containers;
    2. Plume, at the bowsers, and in containers ;
    3. C.O.R., at the bowsers; and in containers ;
    4. Other brands, at the bowsers, and in containers ?
  2. Is he satisfied that the price which the various oil companies are extracting from the petrol-consuming public is a fair one?
  3. If not, what methods does the Government propose to adopt to protect the general public?

The information asked for in (1) has now been obtained, and is as follows: -

page 1755


(As at end of March, 1931.) (Obtained by Comptroller-General, Department of Trade and Customs through the Collector of Customsin each State.)

*Note.* - Since the information set out hereunder was collected in the several States, a reduction in the prices of certain brands of petrol to 2s. 2d. first grade and 2s.1d. second grade has been announced in the press. Service The drum price of 2s. per gallon is allowed to commercial users and has a wide application, stations also make the same concession to commercial users who purchase from the bowser. One service station is selling the brands of the major oil companies at 2d. per gallon lees than those quoted above, e.g., Shell is 2s. Id. provided 5-gallon lots are taken. Another service station is doing Voco at 2s. **Mr. Scullin.** It was understood by the Customs authorities, Brisbane (27th March, 1931), that the prices of petrol which had been fixed by the Commissioner for Prices and were abort to be gazetted under the State Profiteering Prevention Act, were as follow : - The retail sellers of petrol in South Australia have formed an association and their prices of petrol (at end of March, 1931) sold from bowser pumps were as under : - A report furnished on this matter through the Collector of Customs, South Australia, contains the following : - " Krieger and Eagle petrol are imported by garage proprietors in 44-gallon drums and then emptied into bowser pumps for retail sale. Sole of these two brands is not general, but is confined in each instance to the bowser owned by the importer. The sale of petrol in the metropolitan area is restricted except in isolated instances to bowser pumps, and sales in containers are only made either in the country or, if in the citY on a wholesale basis. The local Inflammable Oils Act makes it impracticable for a bowser proprietor to store petrol in containers other than bowsers in a quantity sufficient for sale purposes. A few Bales are made, however, of ' Liberty Spirit ' by Messrs. Crapp & Hawkes on the following is : - in 4-gallon tins 8s. 6d. (6d. allowed upon return of tin), and in 44-gallon drums at 2s. per gallon (Id. per gallon allowed if drum returned). Messrs. Harris, Scarfe & Co. import small quantities of Sunburst petrol in 4-gallon tins and sell same at 8s. 4d. per tin allowing 4d. for return of tins in good order." {: .page-start } page 1758 {:#debate-19} ### INVALID AND OLD-AGE PENSIONS {: #debate-19-s0 .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr SCULLIN:
ALP -- On Friday last, in replying to the honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward),** I indicated that certain representations made in regard to the granting of invalid and oldage pensions were being investigated. I have been in communication with the Acting Commissioner of Pensions, who has furnished me with a report dealing particularly with a recent announcement in the press relative to a reduction of approximately £50,000 which had been made in pensions already in force. The report points out that the reduction referred to was due to a system of reviews which had been in force in the department for a number of years. Experience had shown that the practice was in the interests both of pensioners and the department. Wherever the review disclosed that a pensioner was being overpaid,the necessary adjustment was made in conformity with thelaw, and the Commonwealth was thus protected against expenditure which it should not be called upon to bear. On the other hand, it was frequently found that the pensioner was eligible for payment at a higher rate than that actually in force. In such cases the pension had been increased by the department, although no application for increase had been' made by the pensioner. A comparative statement received from the Acting Commissioner is furnished for the information of the honorable member - The following figures show the position so far as New South Wales is concerned during the three months periods ended 30th April, 1930, and 30th April, 1931 : - Certain instances of reduction of invalid and old-age and war pensions were specially referred to by the honorable member. If particulars of these cases are furnished, arrangements will be made to have them investigated immediately. {: .page-start } page 1759 {:#debate-20} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-20-0} #### GOLD PRODUCTION {: #subdebate-20-0-s0 .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- On the8 th May, the honorable member for Bendigo **(Mr. Keane)** asked me the following questions, *upon notice : -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. How many men are engaged in the search for gold in Australia? 1. What is the increase in the total gold yield for Australiasince 1st January, 1931? I now desire to advise him as follows: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The latest figures available are those for 1929, when the average number of persons engaged in gold-mining was6,095. 1. The production of gold in fine ounces in the States of Victoria, Queensland, and Western Australia for the three months ended 31st March. 1931. was: - Similar monthly details for the other States arenot available. {: .page-start } page 1759 {:#debate-21} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-21-0} #### AUSTRALIAN WHEAT AND BUTTER French Super Tax {: #subdebate-21-0-s0 .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE:
ALP -- On the 8th May, the honorable member for Moreton **(Mr. Francis)** asked the following questions, *upon notice : -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has France imposed a super tax of 200 per cent. over and above the previous rate on Australian wheat and butter, since the present Government tabled its Customs Tariff? 1. What was the previous French customs tariff duty on wheat, and what is the duty at present? 2. What was the previous French customs tariff duty on butter, and what is the duty at present? 3. Did any members of the Government, when recently overseas, make any direct representations to the French Government to relieve these primary products of retaliatory imposts; if so, was any reduction granted by the French Government? 4. Has any subsequent representation been made; if so, with what result? I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Yes, since the introduction of the November, 1929, schedule. 1. Previously to the imposition of the super tax the duty on Australian wheat equalled 1s. 6d. per bushel. On the imposition of the super tax the duty became 4s. 6d. per bushel. The French tariff rate has since been raised to 3s. 6d. per bushel, and Australian wheat is in consequence of the super tax, liable to a rate of 10s. 6d. per bushel. 2. Previously to the imposition of the super tax, the duty on Australian butter equalled 16s. 4d. per cwt. With super tax the rate became 49s. per cwt. As in the case of wheat, the French tariff has since been raised. At present the duty on Australian butter, exclusive of the super tax, would be 32s. 9d. per cwt. Inclusive of the super tax the rate payable is 98s. 3d. per cwt. 3. Yes, but the matter is bound up with certain proposals by France for a reciprocal trade agreement with Australia. 4. The French proposals are under consideration, upon completion of which the Australian case will be presented to the French Government. {: .page-start } page 1759 {:#debate-22} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-22-0} #### IMPORTATION OF STOUT {: #subdebate-22-0-s0 .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE:
ALP -- On the 5th May, the honorable member for Franklin **(Mr. Frost)** asked the following questions, *upon notice : -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What were the imports of stout from the United Kingdom for each year from 1924-25 to 1929-30, and for the ten months ending 30th April, 1931? 1. What is the value of exports of hops from Australia to the United Kingdom for each of the years mentioned above? 2. What percentage of the Australian market for stout is supplied by Australian breweries? 3. What is the present surplus production of Australian hops? I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Imports of stout are not recorded separately. They are included in the item ale, beer and porter, and the following figures show the imports under this heading from the United Kingdom and the Irish Free States: - {: type="1" start="3"} 0. It is impracticable to give this information as the statistical records group ale, beer and stout together both in regard to imports and Australian manufactures. 1. The surplus of the 1930 crop unsold amounted to approximately 2,500 bales of 240 lb. each. It is estimated that the surplus from the 1931 crop will be between 1,500 and 2,000 bales of 240 lb. each. {: .page-start } page 1760 {:#debate-23} ### PAPERS The following papers were presented : - >Customs Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, No. 42. > >Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, Nos. 48, 49, 50, 61. > >Excise Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, No. 48. > >Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, No. 45. {: .page-start } page 1760 {:#debate-24} ### NORTHERN TERRITORY (ADMINISTRATION) BILL Consideration of report of conference managers. *Ordered -* >That the report be taken into consideration in committee in conjunction with Senate's message No. 116. *In committee:* (Consideration of Senate's message and conference report). No. 1 (Clause 4)- >Section three of the Principal Act is amended by inserting before the definition of "the Territory", the following definitions: - " ' the Council ' means the Advisory Council constituted under this Act; ". > > *Senate's amendment.* - Leave out " 'the Council ' means the Advisory Council constituted under this Act". > > *House of Representatives' message.* - Amendment disagreed to for the following reason: - " Because it is the policy of the Government to give representation to the people of the Northern Territory and the amendments made by the Senate will prevent the carrying out of that policy." > > *Conference report.* - That the amendment made by the Senate be not agreed to. > > *Senate's message.* - Amendment still insisted upon. Nos. 2 to 5 (Consequential). {: #debate-24-s0 .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY:
Minister for Home Affairs · Darling -- I move - >That the committee does not now insist on disagreeing to the amendments made and insisted on by the Senate. The amendments are- {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- It is absolutely impossible to hear the Minister. {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- In view of the necessity for abolishing the Northern Australian Commission and giving effect to the measure as it was originally introduced into this chamber, the Government has decided to delete the provisions with respect to an advisory council which were later incorporated in it. Amendments Nos. 1 to 5 refer exclusively to the provisions relating to the appointment of an advisory council. The Government intended to provide for the appointment of an advisory council, but when the measure reached another place, the provisions relating to the appointment of such a council were rejected. This chamber then refused to accept the amendments made in another place, and ultimately managers representing both branches of the legislature were appointed, and, after conferring, agreed to accept the bill as it left this chamber. When the report of the managers was submitted to another place, it refused to adopt it, and in order that the bill as originally introduced may become operative, the Government has decided not to press the amendments. {: #debate-24-s1 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney -- I should be very pleased if the Minister for Home Affairs **(Mr. Blakeley)** would give the House a little more 'information concerning the action taken in another place. Are we to understand that a majority of honorable senators refused to accept the report of the managers, who, I understand, were a body of members representative of all political parties in this House and in another place? Was the managers' decision unanimous? {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr Blakeley: -- The committee of managers came to a unanimous decision. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- And, although a unanimous decision was so reached, the Senate refused to accept it? {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr Blakeley: -- Yes. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- This House is now asked to agree to the decision of another place, which is contrary to the decision of the managers ? {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr Blakeley: -- Yes. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- Will the Minister give the committee a little more detailed information, regarding the effect of what is now proposed? {: #debate-24-s2 .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY:
Minister for Home Affairs · Darling .- The bill as passed by this chamber provided for the Northern Territory to be subdivided into four districts and for the establishment of an advisory council consisting of four members to be elected on the same franchise as exists in connexion with the election of a member for the Northern Territory. Such representatives were to be elected under the ordinary electoral laws of the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr Riordan: -- What was to be the method of election? {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- How is it now proposed to govern the Northern Territory? {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- The method of election was to be the same as that now employed in electing a member for the Northern Territory. The powers of the proposed council are set out in paragraph 4l of clause 5, which reads - >The council shall advise the administrator in respect of any matter arising at any meeting of the council or submitted by the administrator to such meeting. > >The council may report upon (o.) The necessity for undertaking any public work in' the territory or concerning the continuance of any public work already undertaken; and > >Upon the rate3 charged for fares or freights in respect of the carriage of passengers or goods upon any railway within the territory. Within certain limitations the council was also to be empowered to make ordinances. The Government was, and is, still of the opinion that, in the development of the Northern Territory, provision must be made for a modicum of self-government for those people who are pioneering that part of Australia, such as has been granted to the people resident in the Federal Capital Territory. The Government desires to place the residents of the Northern Territory on the same basis as those of Canberra, and although it cannot at present see its way to give the people complete self-government, it was anxious to give them some control over local affairs. The other branch of the legislature has, however, seen fit to reject the Government's proposals in that respect. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr Gabb: -- For what reason? {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- One of the reasons given is that it would cost too much if members of the council had to travel from various points in the Northern Territory to Darwin in order to attend meetings of the council. Another reason advanced was that the Advisory Council would probably be dominated by union organizers and agitators, who would be sure to secure election to it. Both reasons were, of course, mere excuses to hide the real reason why these provisions were deleted by another place. In my opinion, the large pastoralists of the Northern Territory took steps to have the provisions deleted because they feared that the small pastoralists might secure election to the Council, and that this would be detrimental to them. {: #debate-24-s3 .speaker-JVR} ##### Mr NAIRN:
Perth .- There were other reasons which caused another place to refuse to agree to the establishment of the Advisory Council, as proposed by the Government. Two Advisory Councils are already operating in the Northern Territory, one of which is located at Darwin and the other at Alice Springs. These are advisory in the real sense, and they will remain. {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr Blakeley: -- But they " do not exercise the power which it is proposed to vest in this council. {: .speaker-JVR} ##### Mr NAIRN: -- That is true. One of the principal reasons why objection has been taken to the setting up of the new advisory council is that too great power is being vested in it. The council would, for instance, have the power to make ordinances. This would mean that it would practically govern the Territory. The fear that the council would be dominated by agitators is a very real one. Earlier to-day I directed attention to reports from Darwin as to the conditions at present existing there. The town is in the hands of the communists. Although it is only a small settlement, 22 cases were listed for trial at the last criminal sessions. But from all these committals there were only two convictions, in the other cases there were either acquittals or disagreements by the jury, or the charges were withdrawn by the Crown. The communists are openly boasting that the Government is afraid to prosecute them, and the citizens of Darwin are afraid to do their duty as jurymen for fear of retaliation by these lawless persons. That state of affairs has been brought about largely, because the Minister has repeatedly interfered and meddled with the administration of justice in the Northern Territory, by quashing convictions or refusing to take action on the advice of his officers. The local hoboes have sent messages to the Minister requesting him to adopt various suggestions, and in one case a threat was made to him through a trade union in Broken Hill that certain action would be taken against him unless he upset the decision arrived at by a local officer. That kind of thing has seriously contributed towards the- disorder that prevails in Darwin today. It is not surprising, therefore, that strong objection should be taken to the setting up an advisory council clothed with the power the Government proposed to give it. {: #debate-24-s4 .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN:
Kennedy .- The honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Nairn)** has said that the Northern Territory is at present under the control of the communists. He admitted that there were already two advisory councils operating at the northern and southern end of the territory. Who was responsible for the appointment of those bodies? Had the people of the Northern Territory any say in the making of the appointments? In my opinion, the conference managers adopted a reasonable attitude on this matter. The honorable member for the Northern Territory **(Mr. Nelson)** was one of the managers. With his intimate knowledge of Northern Territory affairs, he agreed that it would be wise to give the people a measure of self government. Why should we object to the people electing their own representatives to the proposed advisory council? The honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Nairn)** says that, if this is done, communists may be elected; but he appears to have forgotten that it is proposed to divide the territory into four sections for the purpose of electing this council. This would mean that the people who are developing this great territory, whether they be operating in a large or a small way, will determinewho shall represent them. Surely thereis nothing wrong in that. These peopleare putting up with great inconveniencein developing this huge territory which,, in the past, has received very little attention or assistance from this Parliament. In view of the fact that the electors will be divided into four groups, it is most unlikely that communists will be in theascendency. But in any case, it is for the people to decide whether they want, or do not want, a communistic government. If Australia decided to elect a communistic government to-morrow, it would be improper for this Parliament to attempt to put any block in the way of their doing so. Probably some honorable members opposite would like totake the franchise from certain people in Australia because they returned to power a Labour Government; but the majority of the people will not agree *toa* policy of that description. Why should the people of the Northern Territory have inflicted upon them, as the controller of their affairs, a retired commissioner of the police? {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- He is quite a young man, and not retired. {: .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN: -- I submit that the people should be permitted to elect their own representatives. It is true that the majority of the population in the Northern Territory is centred at Darwin... Most of the other residents are interested in cattle-raising, and they employ very little labour except aborigines, who will not have a vote under this measure. Consequently, these people, who will have the chief say in three of the four divisions, will be able to elect a pastoralist to represent them if they believe that such a man is best able to express their opinions. The representatives of another place who sat in. the conference of managers were very reasonable. At first their views were somewhat similar to those expressed by the honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Nairn)** but after they had heard the Minister and the honorable member for the Northern Territory **(Mr. Nelson)** explain matters, they were of the opinion that the clause giving the people of the territory the right to elect their own administration should stand part of the bill. Actually what the honorable member for Perth fears could occur most easily under the measure in its amended form. If communism exists in the territory, it must surely find expression through the preponderating population centred at Darwin. However, the bogy of communism with which the honorable, member has, endeavoured to frighten us is too absurd to warrant much consideration. The people of the Northern Territory are good citizens of the Commonwealth, the majority of them having gone to that remote area at the special request of those who desired, to employ them there. Another class is represented by that stalwart Australian, the prospector, a type that has done much to develop,, not only the Northern Territory, but the Commonwealth generally. During the last weekend I saw in Sydney a picture depicting the so-called pioneering efforts of a gentleman in Arnhem Land, who was supposed to have explored country previously untrodden by the white man. Flies and other pests associated with the tropics were shown as part of the hardship to which that gentleman had been subjected. As a matter of fact, prospectors searched that country for gold and valuable minerals years before he set foot in it. Yet the prospector is the type of citizen to whom the honorable member for Perth and his like object to give the right of adult franchise! His arguments are unworthy of a representative in this chamber. I believe that the objections that have been raised to this hill by another place are- so much humbug, talked by people who do not know the condition of the territory or the spirit that animates its. inhabitants. I remind honorable members that the quickest way to spread discontent and encourage communism is to deny to people the right to elect their own representatives or to have any say in their own government. {: #debate-24-s5 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney -- I endorse the sentiments expressed by the honorable member for Kennedy **(Mr. Riordan).** It is rather strange that this matter should be brought up following the eulogy of the honorable member for Oxley **(Mr. Bayley),** of the selfgoverning rights of the people of this country. The honorable member spoke at some length to express his feelings on the importance of the right of the people to govern themselves. At the time he was referring to an article that appeared in a South Australian newspaper which he alleged had attacked this institution, and urged that we should at all costs safeguard the privileges of popular representation and free speech, which were established after much sacrifice in the past. This bill was designed to confer on the people of the Northern Territory just those self-governing rights to which the honorable member referred; rights which are enjoyed by honorable members and those whom they represent. In the circumstances, I regret that the Minister and the Government have seen fit to accept the position that has been forced upon them by another place. It is as well that I should remind honorable members that some of the rights and privileges enjoyed by the representatives of other parts of Australia are denied the representative of the Northern Territory in this chamber. *It* is true that he takes every opportunity to associate himself actively with everything that concerns the territory, hut he has no opportunity to register his vote in accordance with his views. {: .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr Riordan: -- The honorable member was supposed to be a communist before he came to this Parliament. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- Any one who opposes the existing social order, and protests against injustice is branded as one who is not fitted to occupy a place in this or any other representative assembly. That is one of the many subterfuges resorted to by the ultra-conservative element. However, the people are becoming more and more enlightened, and that sort of propaganda finds little favour with those who are prepared to view matters in the proper light. It is not sufficient that the honorable member for the Northern Territory should merely express his views in this chamber. He should also be permitted to record his vote, particularly on matters such as the committee is now debating. I understand that when a conference of managers is convened, to deal with matters such as this, it is the usual custom for the opinion of both chambers to be expressed per medium of the conference managers. The Minister for Home Affairs **(Mr. Blakeley)** admitted that on this occasion the conference came to a unanimous decision. It is, therefore, very strange to me that those in another place should reject the recommendations of its conference representatives. That has made a farce of the whole proceedings. Members in another place have used the occasion merely to extract from the Government as much information as they could on the subject, in order to bolster up their arguments, and thereby to defeat the intentions of the Government. The honorable member for Kennedy fully expressed my views on this matter. If we believe in and accept the principle of self-government, which provides that the people shall elect their own representatives, it is absolutely wrong that we should, on this occasion, jettison those rights as is now proposed, merely to accede to the request of the majority in another place. {: #debate-24-s6 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .- The honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr.** Beasley) may always be trusted to say a word or two in favour of the extreme element in the community. In dealing with this measure, he could not refrain from coupling with it thewritings of a certain extremist newspaper in Adelaide. The honorable member advanced a strong claim in favour of self-government, but in my opinion, he is more concerned with the doings of those men who have caused Darwin to be regarded as such a blot on the fair name of Australia, the " red " element. The honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Nairn)** was quite right. As soon as there are any disorderly activities on the part of that element - such as occurred recently when the extremists insisted upon using the main street for their demonstrations instead of occupying more suitable spaces that could be allotted to them, and were in consequence dealt with by the law - the Minister for Home Affairs comes to their aid, and quashes any conviction. The honorable gentleman does that because the " red " element in the territory brings pressure to bear through the unions in the Minister's electorate. {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr Blakeley: -- Tell the truth. Do not spread lies. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- I am merely repeating what is common knowledge. If the Government was really serious in its expressed desire to assist the Northern Territory, it should take steps to improve the civil amenities of Darwin. The town has no water supply; there is inadequate hospital provision, and no proper school accommodation at the Katherine, and if the Darwin jetty were improved, much unnecessary manhandling of cargo would be avoided, with a consequent decrease in the cost of commodities. However, it is apparent that the Minister and the honorable member for West Sydney are concerned only with pampering those who cause such a lot of trouble in the north. Recently special constables had to be sworn in to cope with that element, and they dealt with the extremists, but punishments were made later with a forebearance out of all proportion to what they deserved. I take exception to what the honorable member for Kennedy said about the Northern Territory having a retired police inspector foisted upon it as Government Resident. The gentleman concerned is a comparatively young man, with a distinguished war record, who was previously an officer in the Commonwealth police service. He was a Commonwealth investigating officer who was promoted to the high position of Government Resident. {: .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr Riordan: -- He was not a Commonwealth inquiry officer, but a retired police officer. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- The honorable member is referring to a previous administrator. Colonel Weddell, the present Government Resident, was formerly an investigating officer connected with the Commonwealth Police. I support the motion. {: #debate-24-s7 .speaker-KMZ} ##### Mr MARTENS:
Herbert . - I associate myself with the remarks of the honorable members for Kennedy **(Mr. Riordan)** and West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** notwithstanding what the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** has said. I am acquainted with some of the residents of the Northern Territory, and I know that they are not inferior to the people of any other part of Australia. Their representative in. this House is not a communist, but a man who is as intelligent as is any member of another place. E regret that the Minister brought this matter before us to-day, as owing to circumstances over which he has no control, the honorable member for the Northern Territory **(Mr. Nelson),** is absent. I do not believe in taking from any section of the community the right to administer their own local affairs. For 30 years every proposal for advancement has been regarded by honorable members opposite, and those whom they represent, as undesirable agitation; it has been referred to in the same contemptuous terms as have been used by them to-day. It is regrettable that such remarks should be made whenever it is desired to liberalize the franchise. Even though the residents of Darwin might be disposed to elect a man holding advanced, or even extreme, views, the residents of other portions of the territory not so closely associated with industrial conditions, would not do so. But even if they did, they would have the right to do so. This Parliament has no right to dictate the class of person' who shall represent any section of the community; it is for the electors to return to Parliament, or to elect to other bodies, men to represent their views, whether others agree with those views or not. The greatest possible freedom should be given to the people in the matter of self-government. The proposal before us is to reject a decision unanimously made by the managers appointed by both Houses. I do not understand why the Minister should be willing to agree to the proposal of another place. He says that he does not wish to lose the bill. I submit that the members of another place should be made to accept the responsibility for rejecting the measure which waB sent on from this chamber. This House should not subordinate itself to another place. The reason advanced for not accepting the unanimous decision of the managers, namely, thai; the people of the territory would probably elect communists to represent them, will not bear investigation. It is ridiculous. I do not know the pros and cons of the matters referred to; nor do those honorable gentlemen opposite who have seen fit to make cheap gibes about the Minister having quashed the convictions of men found guilty of breaches of the law. No Minister of the Crown, irrespective of party, would quash a conviction without feeling that he had good ground for doing so. I regret that the Minister has seen fit to accept the Senate's amendments, and also that he has brought this matter before us to-day, in the absence of the honorable member for the Northern Territory. {: #debate-24-s8 .speaker-KMW} ##### Mr MARR:
Parkes .- I support the Minister, although as one of the managers appointed by this chamber to confer with those appointed by another place, I agreed with the decisions arrived at when the conference sat. With other honorable members, I agree, that the residents of the Northern Territory should be given representation ; but the area of the territory is so vast that it is difficult to do so. On one occasion, when Minister for Home and Territories, I was interviewed by a man from the Northern Territory who had had a three weeks' ride on horseback from his station before he reached the railhead. If the people of the Territory are to have representation on a council sitting at Darwin, much time will be lost by the elected representatives in getting to and from the council meetings. {: .speaker-KMZ} ##### Mr Martens: -- The logical outcome of the honorable member's reasoning would be that the people of the territory should have no representation whatever. {: .speaker-KMW} ##### Mr MARR: -- If the Northern Territory were self-supporting, I would say tl at the people there would be entitled to full representation on any council entrusted with the management of local affairs; but the position is different when this Parliament is responsible for financing the territory. {: .speaker-KYZ} ##### Mr RIORDAN: -- The honorable member agreed with the decision of the managers. {: .speaker-KMW} ##### Mr MARR: -- I have already admitted that. But the Minister has seen fit to accept the amendment of the Senate. The people of New Guinea are also crying out for representation; but it is difficult to accede to their request, as honorable members who have visited New Guinea will admit. We all agree that those of our people who are opening up new country in outlying places are entitled to representation^ and to whatever assistance we can give them. Nevertheless, in view of the Minister's acceptance of the Senate's amendment, I think that the committee would be justified in supporting him. {: #debate-24-s9 .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr CURTIN:
Fremantle .- I understand that the unanimous report of the managers was subsequently amended by the Senate. In those circumstances, I do not propose to support the Minister in the stand that he has taken. {: #debate-24-s10 .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB:
Angas .- I regret that the Minister has agreed to the Senate's amendment, for it seemed to me a step in the right direction to give the people of the Northern Territory some measure of self-government. Whatever may be the position at Darwin, I have no fear that the people in the southern portion of the Northern Territory would elect any communist to represent them on the council. It has been urged that attendance at council meetings would necessitate a great amount of travelling, with consequent expense. In my opinion, that travelling, instead of being a reason for not granting self-government to the residents of the Northern Territory, is an argument in favour of self-government for them. I know that at least one of the three commissioners did a great amount of travelling, and that his visits were greatly appreciated by the people with, whom he came in contact. I cannot speak of the travelling done by the other commissioners. I understand that if we agree to the Senate's amendment we shall revert to the old system of control by two administrators, instead of one. {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr Blakeley: -- That is so. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr GABB: -- Under that system the Northern Territory made no progress in the past. 'I regret that this small measure of self-government, which, in my opinion, was a definite step forward, has been scotched. {: #debate-24-s11 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter .- I do not propose to cast a silent vote on this occasion. I am entirely opposed to the dictation of the Senate in this instance, as I was to dictation by that body last year in connexion with certain arbitration proposals. I blame the Government for its weakness in accepting dictation from another place. It is only fair that the people of the Northern Territory should be given the right to determine the conditions under which they shall live; and, therefore, I shall not support the proposal of the Minister. Adult franchise is a most democratic principle and should not be denied to any section of the community. I oppose any alteration of the bill as it left this chamber, and I therefore intend to vote against the amendment inserted by another place. {: #debate-24-s12 .speaker-KE4} ##### Mr KEANE:
Bendigo .- I have little knowledge of the subject before the committee, and I, therefore, do not intend to discuss it; but as the honorable member for the Northern Territory **(Mr. Nelson)** is ill I ask the Minister to adjourn the debate so that the honorable member may have an opportunity to participate in it. {: #debate-24-s13 .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr GULLETT:
Henty :- There seems to be a good deal of misconception still 'in the committee as to the reason for the attitude adopted by another place in respect of this measure. I am strongly in favour of the establishment of advisory councils, because in the case of a Crown colony - the Northern Territory being really in that position - the beginning of popular government is brought about as a general rule by the establishment of such a body. But I know of no instance in which an advisory council in a Crown colony has been established upon the basis of manhood or adult franchise. Had the Government proceeded on different lines, a successful council, and one which would have been acceptable to this Parliament, might have been appointed. Under the present proposal all four members of the council may be residents of Darwin. {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr Blakeley: -- That is impossible. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr GULLETT: -- There is nothing in the bill to prevent that from taking place. Another objection is that the four members of the council may be of one political colour. The Northern Territory is somewhat different from southern Australia, because it depends absolutely upon out- side capital, and if we set up in the Territory a form of government based upon adult franchise I venture to say that within two years a great deal of the capital now invested in that country will have been withdrawn and few white workers will be left there. I believe that if the Minister now submitted a proposal for the appointment in the Northern Territory of an advisory council, its members to be representative of particular interests, he would receive the support of all honorable members. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- Does the honorable member contend that the Territory cannot progress unless we subordinate all our interests to those of capital? {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr GULLETT: -- Certainly not, but the establishment in the Northern Territory of government by popular voice would be prejudicial to the introduction of capital, and it would, within a few years, entirely depopulate that country. I suggest that a proposal to appoint an advisory council of four members consisting of two representatives of the pastoral industry, one representative of the mining industry, and one representative of the workers in the Territory would be acceptable to all honorable members. I am glad that the Senate has seen fit to amend the bill as it left this chamber, and I trust that the Minister will insist upon his proposal. {: #debate-24-s14 .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah -- I support the motion moved by the Minister. Some honorable members adopt the unreasonable and per sistent attitude of disagreeing with any proposal emanating from another place. {: .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: -- My objection in this instance is that another place has amended the bill despite an agreement arrived at by managers representative of both chambers. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- I am glad to have the honorable member's explanation, because his few remarks were capable of a different construction. Nevertheless it is quite reasonable for members of another place to differ from the managers that they appoint. They have equal rights with members of this chamber in the discussion of all legislative and administrative matters; and if they think that the views of the managers appointed by them are capable of improvement they are at liberty to disagree and to vote accordingly. There is no ground for opposing the amendment made by another place. It is a distinct improvement on the bill as it left this chamber. I therefore support the proposal of the Minister. {: #debate-24-s15 .speaker-KX9} ##### Mr WATKINS:
Newcastle .- As the honorable member for the Northern Territory is ill, and cannot, at this stage, attend the committee, I ask the Minister to adjourn the debate. {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr Blakeley: -- I shall do so later. {: #debate-24-s16 .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr CURTIN:
Fremantle .- I do not resent or dispute the right of another place to amend bills that originate in this chamber, but in this instance the position is somewhat different.We had reached the stage at which both chambers disagreed in respect of a proposed alteration of the law. The Constitution prescribes a method whereby both chambers may resolve their difficulties. It prescribes that each chamber shall appoint managers. In this instance, managers representative of all parties in this Parliament were appointed. They conferred together, and arrived at a reasonable arrangement to permit of the difficulties between both chambers being overcome. I require a substantial and convincing argument to be advanced before I am prepared to depart from the unanimous finding of those managers. It was open to another place to reject *in toto,* the decisions of the managers, but it did not do that. It regarded the report of the managers as if it were a further amendment to the bill. When managers, knowing full well the views of their respective chambers, have succeeded in arriving at a unanimous decision I cannot agree to depart from it until an argument more substantial than that advanced by the other chamber is placed before us. {: #debate-24-s17 .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY:
Minister for Home Affairs · Darling .-Neither branch of the legislature is bound to accept the recommendations of a conference of managers, even though their decision might be unanimous. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- But that is the usual practice. {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- Not necessarily. The fact that such conferences are provided for indicates that either House may accept or reject the recommendations of its managers. There are two main principles involved in the bill, and the greater principle, in the estimation of the Government, is the abolition of the North Australia Commission, and the substitution for it of the system of administration previously in vogue. The honorable member for Angas **(Mr. Gabb)** said that it would be unwise to revert to the old system. All I have to say is that the adoption of the new system has not improved matters; in fact, it has made the government of the territory more costly and unwieldy than before. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr Gabb: -- The commissioners were nominees of the Government. {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- The honorable member is apparently confusing the semigovernmental powers of the residents with the administration of the territory, which is quite a distinct matter. Advisory councils now function, both in North Australia and Central Australia. The administration is carried out partly by the North Australia Commission and partly by the Administrator. It is proposed that the administration shall be in the hands of one officer instead of three, as at present. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr Gabb: -- They were not elected by the people, but were nominees of the Government. {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- It was never intended that all members of the advisory councils should be elected. The proposal to give a modicum of self-government to the people of the Northern Territory has nothing whatever to do with the administration. The advisory councils were permitted to give advice to the Administrator, who could accept or reject it as he thought fit. The Government considers it essential to abolish the North Australia Commission. This has been agreed to in another place, but the other portion of the measure relating to the advisory councils has not been accepted. While I agree that the people of the territory should have some kind of representation, the question arises whether, if the Government cannot secure the passage of the whole of the bill, it should lose the opportunity to have the more important part of it put into law. According to representations by the Public Service Board and the Auditor-General's Department, the alterations proposed under the measure would effect a saving of £8,000 a year. In the opinion of the Government, an effective and economical system of administration is proposed, but we are prepared to forgo, for the time being, the provisions relating to the advisory councils. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr Gabb: -- Why does the Minister think that one man will be more effective as an administrator than three. {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- I dealt with that aspect of the matter at fair length in introducing the bill, and the readiness with which members of all parties accepted my statement that the abolition of the commission was desirable seemed to indicate that the policy advocated was sound. The honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Nairn),** and the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** have made certain statements alleging interference on my part with the administration of justice in the Northern Territory, and I keenly resent what they have said. The honorable member for Balaclava rarely takes trouble to ascertain the facts of the cases that he discusses, but when an honorable member with a legal training, such as the honorable member for Perth, takes even greater liberties with truth, one wonders whether his legal training is comparable with that which usually distinguishes members of the profession of the law. The honorable member for Perth said that I had interfered with the course of justice at Darwin, and that, at the behest of trade unions at Broken Hill,, I had released certain men. That statement is not correct, and I suggest that the honorable member should withdraw it. As a matter of fact, certain organizations at Broken Hill asked me to do something which I refused to do. I think that the honorable member should accept my assurance in the matter. Any remissions of fines or sentences granted by me in the Northern Territory have been based on a strict sense of justice. I recently took part in an election campaign in New South Wales, during which I spoke in about twenty country towns, both large and small. In no less than three instances the traffic was diverted from the main streets in which the meetings were held, and the people accepted that procedure as entirely proper; hut, on my return to Canberra, I found that, because of obstruction of traffic in the streets of Darwin, certain men had been arrested. I could not agree that that action was justified, and; therefore, I took the necessary steps to have the prosecutions withdrawn. At no time have I done anything against the best interests of justice in the territory. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- Was the Minister asked to interfere in the matter ? {: .speaker-JPV} ##### Mr BLAKELEY: -- Yes. I regret that the honorable member for the Northern Territory **(Mr. Nelson),** on account of indisposition, is unable to attend to his parliamentary duties to-day, and, in response to the request that has been made to me, I move that progress be now reported. Progress reported. {: .page-start } page 1769 {:#debate-25} ### TARIFF {:#subdebate-25-0} #### Customs Duties *In Committee of Ways and Means:* Consideration resumed from the 6th May (vide page 1675), on motion by **Mr. Forde** - >That the schedule to the customs tariff be amended - > >Item 3. By omitting the whole of sub-item {: type="a" start="a"} 0. and inserting in its stead the following sub-item : - "(a) Brandy- {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 1 ) When not exceeding the strength of proof - 1. If bottled in the Commonwealth under customs supervision subject to such conditions as to the bottling and as to the strength of the spirits as are prescribed bydepartmental by-laws, per gallon, British, 45s. ; intermediate, 45s. ; general, 46s. 2. If not bottled in the Commonwealth under customs supervision, per gallon, British, 50s. ; intermediate, 50s.; general, 51s. Upon which **Mr. Nairn** had moved by way of amendment - >That the item be amended by adding to sub-item (a), paragraph (1), the following: - "And on and after 13th May, 1931. > >When not exceeding the strength of proof, per gallon, British, 45s.; intermediate, 40s. ; general, 40s." {: #subdebate-25-0-s0 .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · Capricornia · ALP -- I have given a good deal of consideration to the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Nairn).** I have also consulted Cabinet on the matter, and I want to announce at once that Cabinet has decided that the rates of duty proposed in the schedule shall remain. On the 25th May, 1927, a conference of Commonwealth and State representatives upon uniform standards for foods and drugs, carried the following resolution : - {: type="1" start="4"} 0. The conference reaffirms the resolution of the conference of 1913, which was reaffirmed by the conference of 1922, that, "All spirits imported in bulk to be sold in bottles under the label or name of any distiller, manufacturer, or agent, outside the Commonwealth, should be bottled in bond under customs supervision, and should be labelled 'bottled in bond by ' (here adding the name of the manufacturer or of the agent within the Commonwealth)." That was regarded as an additional means of ensuring that spirits true to label would reach the hotelkeeper and, to that extent, safeguard consumers. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr Gabb: -- Who were present at that conference ? {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- The conference was attended by the following gentlemen: - {: type="A" start="D"} 0. G. Robertson, M.D., D.P.H., Director Division of Industrial Hygiene (in the absence of J. H. L. Cumpston, M.D., D.P.H., DirectorGeneral of Health, and an adviser of the Commonwealth in relation to the Commerce Act). 1. Percy Wilkinson, F.I.C., Commonwealth Analyst, and an adviser of the Commonwealth in relation to the Commerce Act. 2. Thomson, representing the Department of Markets and Migration. {:#subdebate-25-1} #### New South Wales {: type="A" start="R"} 0. Dick, M.B., Mast. Surg., D.P.H. (Camb), President of the Board of Health and Chairman of the Pure Food Advisory Committee created by the Pure Food Act, DirectorGeneral of Public Health. 1. Cooksey, Ph.D., B.Sc., F.I.C., F.A.C.I., Government Analyst. Honorable J. G. Farleigh, M.L.C., a member of the Pure Food Advisory Committee, commercial representative. {:#subdebate-25-2} #### Queensland {:#subdebate-25-3} #### John Irwin Moore, M.D., F.R.C.S., D.P.H., Commissioner of Public Health; J. Brownlie Henderson, O.B.E., F.I.C., F.A.C.I., Government Analyst {: type="A" start="F"} 0. Harper (of Messrs. Robert Harper and Company Limited.), commercial representative. {:#subdebate-25-4} #### South Australia {: type="A" start="W"} 0. Ramsay Smith, D.Sc, M.D., CM., F.R.S. (Edin.), permanent head of the Department of Public Health, Chairman of the Central Board of Health, and of the Advisory Committee created by the Food and Drugs Act. 1. A. Hargreaves, M.A., B.C.E., D.Sc, F.I.C., F.A.C.I., Director of Chemistry, and Government Analyst. 2. W. Grasby (of Messrs. J. W. Grasby & Co.), a commercial member of the Advisory Committee, commercial representative. {:#subdebate-25-5} #### Tasmania {: type="A" start="E"} 0. J. Tudor, Acting Permanent Head and Secretary of the Department of Public Health. 1. J. Miller (of Messrs. A. J. Miller & Maund Pty. Ltd.), commercial representative. {:#subdebate-25-6} #### Victoria {: type="A" start="E"} 0. Robertson, F.R.C.S. (Edin.), D.P.H. (Camb.), Permanent Head of the Department of Public Health, Chairman of the Commission of Public Health, and of the Food Standards Committee created bv the Health Act. Heber Green, D.Sc, Lecturer in Chemistry, Melbourne University^ a member of the Food Standards Committee. {: type="A" start="A"} 0. D. Price (of Messrs. Price, Griffiths & Co.), President of the Federal Wholesale Grocers Association nf Australia, commercial representative. {:#subdebate-25-7} #### Western Australia {: type="A" start="J"} 0. Dale, M.D., B.Sc. (in the absence of the Commissioner of Public Health, Principal Medical Officer, Chairman of the Pure Foods Advisory Committee). 1. E. Stacy, A.A.C.I., Deputy Government Analyst. Honorable J. M. MacFarlane, M.L.C., a member of the Advisory Board, commercial representative. **Senator McLachlan,** representing the Minister for Health at the time, opened the proceedings. The Government has not adopted the suggestion that no spirits should be sold other than in bottles; but the schedule under consideration offers an inducement to people to have spirits bottled in bond under customs supervision. {: #subdebate-25-7-s0 .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE:
ALP -- Its object was. to investigate the subject of pure foods and drugs throughout Australia with a view to arriving at some uniform action to guarantee as far as possible freedom from adulteration. That guarantee is possible when spirit is bottled under the supervision of an officer of the customs department. {: .speaker-KX9} ##### Mr Watkins: -- The amendment has no relation to the rate of duty. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- The amendment proposes to reduce the rate of duty on brandy bottled out of bond, and, I take it that the same proposal is to be submitted in regard to other spirits. {: .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr Hawker: -- Is there any Tariff Board report on the matter, seeing that this is not a revenue duty. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- It is one of the duties that increase the revenue. Bond stores cost a good deal, and the operationof this duty has resulted in the establishment of additional bond stores. This, in turn, has led to an increase in revenue. Certain people who have not bottled in bond have paid the extra duty, and thus increased the revenue. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- The revenue has 'fallen in consequence of the increase of the duties on spirits. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- It has fallen in respect to duties on spirits as it has fallen in respect to every other luxury item in the schedule, and not because of this particular increase. Even if the rate of duty on whisky had been decreased, the depression in Australia would still have brought about a reduction in the consumption of whisky. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- To some extent that is true, but as the duties have gone beyond a certain level the consumption has fallen. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- Regulations under the Spirits Act of 1906-23 lay down certain conditions in order to safeguard the public. Regulation 7 reads as follows : - >Upon the written application of the owner and satisfactory proof as to the identity of any spirits under customs control, an officer may mark or cause to be marked the description of such spirits in the following manner: - > >Casks and vessels. - The -marking shall be effected by affixing on the head of each cask or vessel or case the prescribed stamp or seal. > >Bottles. - The prescribed stamp shall be placed on each bottle, and, in addition, if desired by the owner, the prescribed seal shall be impressed in wax or otherwise on the cork or capsule of every bottle. > >The stamp to be used for descriptive purposes shall be adhesive not less than two inches in diameter or such smaller size as may be authorized by the Comptroller in special cases, printed in black letters on white ground, and in the following design, but the descriptive terms varied to suit the requirements, provided that a reduced facsimile of the stamp may be used for miniature bottles. That regulation was issued by the BrucePage Government. The Spirits Act 1906-1923, contains this definition - " Australian Standard Malt Whisky " means whisky which complies with the following requisites: - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. It must have been distilled wholly from barley malt by a pot still or similar process at a strength not exceeding forty-five per cent. over proof. 1. It must have been matured, while subject to the control of the customs, by storage in wood' for a period of not less than two years; and 2. It must have been certified by an officer to be pure whisky containing all the essential elements of pure malt whisky. The act also lays down the conditions to be observed in the making of Australian blended whisky. The extra duty of 5s. per gallon on spirits bottled out of bond was imposed for three reasons. First, as a measure of protection to the public because the extra duty would be an inducement to have spirits bottled in bond under customs supervision, thus ensuring that what was put into the bottle was true to label. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- That does not guarantee the purity of what comes out of the bottle. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- I admit that the customs officer cannot police the spirit until it reaches the consumer, but bottling in bond under customs supervision is a help to the State officers. In Victoria, for instance, there are over 2,000 hotels and only one inspector. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- The protection of the public against the adulterationof foods and drinks is a State matter. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- But this additional safeguard was recommended by a health conference representative of the Commonwealth and the States. Secondly, the bottling in bond is also a means of increasing the revenue, although that is not an important consideration. Thirdly, it is a means of creating additional employment in connexion with the manufacture in Australia of bottles, cases, and straw envelopes, and gives work to extra bottlers and packers in bond stores. {: .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: -- The question is whether whisky should be bottled in bond or out of bond. Employment is not increased merely by bottling in bond. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- Employment is not a big factor, although it is a consideration. The extra import duty of 5s. on spirits bottled out of bond embraces whisky, brandy, and gin under the customs tariff, and whisky, brandy, gin, and liqueurs under the excise tariff. {: .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr Hawker: -Why not rum ? {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- If the honorable member can show good reasons for the inclusion of rum, I shall be prepared to consider them. No objection has been raised to the 5s. extra on brandy, gin, and liqueurs bottled out of bond, because those lines are practically all bottled under customs supervision in bond. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- Who asked for this alteration ? {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- This is an administrative act based on a recommendation of health officers who want to ensure that only pure liquors shall be sold to the public. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- The importing distillers asked for it. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- It is true that the importing interests are in favour of it, and I believe that they have circularized every honorable member on the subject. An important consideration is that if a hotelkeeper sells a "house" whisky, it is subject to no other test than that of alcoholic strength. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- And the consumers' taste. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- After one whisky, some persons do not know what they are drinking. During the last six months, the Customs Department have located, in New South Wales alone, six illicit whisky stills. Some of their product was sold by sly-grog shops, but quantities of it were bought by hotelkeepers, although, fortunately, the majority of the licensed victuallers will have nothing to with it. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- This duty will not retard the sale of illicit whisky. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- Bottling in bond under customs supervision will be an additional check. " House " whisky can be a product of illicit stills, or Australian whisky, or cheap imported whisky, or a blend of all three. The only condition the hotelkeeper has to observe is to keep the whisky up to the stipulated alcoholic strength. If he puts cheap imported or illicit still whisky into a decanter and observes the standard of alcoholic strength, no action can be taken by the inspector. The recognized proprietary brands are bottled in bond under customs supervision and check samples are submitted to the health authorities. By comparison with the check samples, the inspector can determine whether the whisky in bottle is true to check sample. {: .speaker-KE4} ##### Mr Keane: -- That is the only actual test. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- That is the only means of ascertaining whether a bottle labelled Dewar's contains Dewar's whisky, or the product of an illicit still. By offering an inducement to distillers to have their spirits bottled in bond, under customs supervision, wo increase the guarantee to the public that the liquor is true to label. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- The inspector does not test the whisky to decide whether it is Dewar's or Black and White. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- By comparison with the check samples, he can satisfy himself whether it is Dewar's or Old Court, or some inferior brand. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- The inspector tests only for strength and purity. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- Excluding rum, at least 95 per cent, of the total spirits sold are bottled brands. The number of hotelkeepers who have a sufficient trade in their own bottled brands to require the whole time service of a bottler is very limited ; probably there are not more than 25 of them in the whole of Australia. One objection taken to the new duty is that pilfering from the cases occurs between the bond store and the hotel. It is true that a bottle of whisky can be removed from a case in a railway yard, or on a wharf, but that evil is no greater than the pillaging of casks. In Brisbane a few years ago a hole was bored in a cask on the wharf, a tap inserted, and the whole of the contents drawn off. Another practice is to shift one of the hoops, bore a hole in the cask, draw off two or three gallons of whisky, plug the hole, and knock the hoop back over it. When that is done, the consignee may never know that he has been robbed. The hotelkeeper is able to tell whether a case has been interfered with, for if the contents rattle when the case is shaken, he knows that a bottle has been removed. We shall be told that efficient inspection is being carried out by the various State Governments. Statistics prove that in some of the States there is very little supervision, whilst in others, where the number of licences is large, the inspectors are far too few *to* supervise .the trade efficiently. In New South Wales there are two liquor inspectors under the control of the Health Department. The number of victuallers' licences is approximately 2,200, and they are distributed over the whole State. In Victoria, there is one liquor inspector, controlled by the Health Department; the licences in that State are: victuallers, 1,803; grocers, 258; clubs, 122; railway refreshment rooms, 32, and steam packet, 6; a total of 2,221 retail licences, apart from wholesale licences. In Queensland the liquor inspection is a small portion of the duties of food inspectors, and, therefore, the supervision is anything but efficient. The number of victuallers' licences alone is 1,350. There are no liquor inspectors in South Australia, liquor inspecting being a portion of the duties of health inspectors, who have to supervise also milk, meat, and other foods. In that State -650 hotels are licensed. In Western Australia, the liquor inspection is in the hands of two inspectors who are under the control of the Police Department. In Tasmania, there are approximately 400 licensed victuallers, and there again the control of liquor standards is in the hands of food inspectors, and is only a small portion of their duties. The additional os. a gallon on spirits bottled out of bond will encourage the bottling of spirits under customs supervision, and will, to some extent, protect the public against imposition and fraud. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr Gabb: -- How much duty has been paid under this provision? {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- The Government is losing revenue as a result of it. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- An officer of the department is at present investigating this matter, and it has been found that there has been an increase in revenue as a result of the duty. It has also resulted in the opening of additional bond stores in which liquor is bottled under supervision. This condition will have its repercussions in other industries, in as much as the demand for bottles, cases and straw envelopes will be largely increased. Moreover, it will be the means of increasing the revenue -where importers do not take advantage of the lower rates operating under the bottling provisions. Bottling under supervision was made subject to by-law in the resolution of the 26th of March, 1931. This action was taken for the purpose of giving the department full control over bottling operations, and also to enable it to prescribe the strength of spirits which may be bottled at the lower rate of duty. It had been found that, in order to obtain the benefit of the lower rates, importers were bottling the spirits at proof and overproof, and after duty had been paid, the bottled spirit was poured back into casks, and broken down in strength before being sold to the public. As the object of the item was being defeated, the by-law provision was added to prevent importers adopting such methods. Honorable members must not overlook the fact that in the excise tariff provision is made for full control over the manufacture of spirit. For instance, Item 2 (r>) provides - >Whisky, distilled wholly from barley malt by a pot still, or similar process, at a strength not exceeding 45 per cent, overproof, matured by storage in wood for a period of not less than two years, and certified by an officer to be pure malt whisky. As" a result, Australian whisky or other spirit which is bottled under customs or excise supervision, carries a label that certifies as to its quality, and the whisky may, therefore, be said to carry a government guarantee as to quality. If this is the law in respect of Australian spirits, surely there is no reason why the Government should not apply similar conditions for the protection of the public in respect of whisky or other spirit which Ls imported. Since this additional duty on spirits in bottles was imposed, 24 additional bonds have been opened in the Commonwealth. They are giving employment to bottlers, and the spirits are being bottled under customs supervision. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- How many persons are employed in those bonds % {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- It is difficult to ascertain the actual number. Some of them are employing four or five, others three or four, and others less. The Customs Department to-day is experiencing grave difficulty in policing our excise regulations. An increasing number of persons is making whisky in the backyard, on the farm, or elsewhere. The Comptroller-General of Customs advises me that the illicit distilling of whisky is on the increase. Those who make the whisky have to get rid of it somehow, and if they are able to dispose of it to hotelkeepers who mix it with an Australian whisky or some cheap imported brand, customers who are served with it out of a decanter on the counter have no means of knowing what they are drinking. This provision requiring a higher duty to be paid unless the whisky is bottled in bond under customs supervision goes some way to meet the recommendations of the Melbourne Health Conference held under the aegis of the Bruce-Page Government. That conference recommended that the Government should forbid the sale of whisky not bottled under government supervision. In view of the present state of the national finances, I trust that honorable members will recognize the unwisdom of reducing this duty at the present time. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- If the Government wanted more revenue it would reduce the duty. i {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- In Great Britain the duty on whisky is approximately 75s. a gallon, as against 45s. in Australia. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: -- What is the strength of the whisky imported into Great Britain ? {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- The honorable member knows that the British duty is much higher than the Australian duty, and now that the Government needs all the revenue it can obtain it would not be advisable to reduce this duty. I ask the committee not to agree to this proposal, nor to the proposal which will be made later to reduce the duty on imported whisky by 12s. a gallon. That proposal will be advocated on the ground that it will reduce the price of a nip of whisky by Id., and will thus encourage the drinking of more whisky. I doubt whether it will have the effect claimed for it, and it would mean a loss of £300,000 to £375,000 a year in Customs revenue. The Government cannot agree to the loss of so much revenue at the present time. {: #subdebate-25-7-s1 .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr GULLETT:
Henty .- The proposal before the committee is that the import duty of 45s. on brandy should be increased to 50s. when the imported spirit is not bottled in bond. An amendment has been moved to revert to the original position. I. am surprised at the action of the Government, first in having proposed to increase the duty, and then in having insisted upon the increase. In the course of a debate on the Northern Territory bill this afternoon we, on this side ofthe House, were charged with being concerned with the big pastoral interests in the north. If ever there was a pandering to big interests in any trade, it is to be found in the Government's support of the big whisky importing interests by the imposition of this additional 5s. a gallon duty. The really big Scotch associated distillers bottle all their whisky in bond. In the propaganda which they are distributing to members at the present time they assert that they have used no influence with the Government to bring about this additional impost of 5s. I am sorry to say that that is not so. I had this case before me here in Canberra two years ago. I have no quarrel with those interests, but I feel in duty bound to state what happened. They strongly urged me to agree to an additional import duty of 5s. a gallon On imported whisky not bottled in bond. Obviously their object was to weaken the competition of other whisky-importing firms. This increased duty constituted a very definite penalty upon every seller of bulk whisky in Australia. This increased duty meant nothing to them, but it did penalize their competitors who imported in bulk, and paid duty on bulk. The Government has been levying an extra toll of 5s. a gallon on every importer of bulk whisky, whether a hotelkeeper or wine and spirit merchant, and has, in my opinion, brought about a change for the worse in the selling and consumption of whisky. Despite what the Minister has said, the bottling of whisky in bond does not necessarily guarantee its purity. We all know that the best grades of whisky in this or any other country are not sold in bottles, excepting in small quantities. Any person wishing to get the least harmful whisky possible will buy high-grade bulk whisky. We have in Australia a considerable number of old-fashioned and honorable wine and spirit merchants, who have been carrying on a wholesale trade in whisky and other spirits, selling a few gallons at a time to pastoralists and other persons who prefer to buy their whisky in bulk. Those firms are being penalized by this extra 5s. duty, and many of them are being driven out of business. This measure discriminates unfairly against those who are importing the best and purest whisky at the present time. I wish to say nothing against the proprietary whisky bottled in bond, but everybody knows that it is not really old whisky. It is relatively new and, relatively, not so good as that sold in bulk. In the interests of the wine and spirit merchants, who may be classed as the most reputable of liquor traders, and of those engaged in the sale of bulk whisky whether it be known as house whisky or otherwise, the committee should not sanction this increased duty on whisky not bottled in bond. The duty constitutes a grave interference with the liberty of the subject. It will not operate in the interests of temperance, nor will it guarantee the purity of the whisky sold. The Minister said that it would make it more difficult to dispose of illicitly distilled spirit. I cannot agree with that contention. If those who make such whisky are prepared, with the connivance of the publicans, to cheat the Customs, they will not sell the whisky in bulk, but will put it into Dewar's and Buchanan's bottles, or into those of other firms. It would be only another step for them, having broken the law in one respect, to go a little further and pass off their whisky as one of the proprietary brands. I also challenge the statement of the Minister that it is the duty of the excise officers to check all whisky sold, to see that it is true to label. Their duty is only to determine its purity and strength. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- The excise officers check the strength of whisky in bulk, then check it again after it is bottled, and report the result to the department. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr GULLETT: -- In the various States special machinery exists for checking house whisky and other draft whisky, and the checking is done just as carefully as when thi? whisky is in bottles bearing well-known labels. No guarantee of purity is provided by the imposition of this extra duty. In my opinion, the Government is going outside its proper sphere altogether, and is concerning itself with what is really one of the proper activities of the States. What business is it of the Minister to exercise supervision over the sale of spirits in hotels? There would be as much justification for Commonwealth supervision of the retail milk supply for the people of Australia. Not one reason has been advanced to justify this change, which, as I have said, has been made on the representations of the big whisky importers. Possibly it is something in the nature of a sop to them for the great increase in duties which importers of spirits have to pay on gin. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- The big whisky importers are much displeased with the Government's action in regard to whisky generally. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr GULLETT: -- Memoranda which I have read from the whisky distillers, including representatives of John Dewar, James Buchanan & Company, the Distillers Agency Limited, John Walker, and the White Horse brand, urge the retention of the extra 5s. per gallon. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- They are asking for a reduction in whisky duties amounting to L2s. a gallon. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr GULLETT: -- The Minister is referring to an entirely different matter. As one reason for the change, the Minister said something about the additional employment which the new duties would provide. Figures which have been supplied to me prove the contrary condition to have arisen. One statement, relating to the number of employees engaged in the bottling and distributing of imported and other spirits in New South Wales, shows that in November, 1929, the number of employees in bond and bottling warehouses was 350, while in March of this year it was only 229. {: .speaker-KMZ} ##### Mr Martens: -- Who supplied that information ? {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr GULLETT: -- It is contained in a circular from the Wine and Spirit Merchants Association of New South Wales. I assume that the members of that organization know what they are talking about. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- Does not the honorable member realize that through rationing and surcharges on duties whisky imports have materially declined? {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr GULLETT: -- I am stating the position that obtains to-day. A few minutes ago the Minister told the committee that this duty had added substantially to the revenue, and had also been responsible for an increase in employment. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- I said that it had resulted in some increase in revenue. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr GULLETT: -- The figures which I have quoted show that there has been a decrease in employment since this duty was imposed. I come now to the question of revenue. Even in the prosperous years just before we began to feel the effects of the depression, the increased whisky duties did not check .the steady downward trend in revenue. It is obvious, therefore, that this increase from 45s. to 50s. will mean less revenue. Many people who approve of restrictions being imposed on the use of alcohol, will commend these higher duties on spirits. I do not propose to discuss .that aspect of the matter at this stage. The point I wish to emphasize is that these increases have been responsible for a decline in revenue, without any compensating advantage in the way of additional employment, as the Minister has suggested. Possibly there has been a slight increase from licence-fees for additional bond houses, but that is a relatively minor matter, and will not affect materially the deficit of approximately £20,000,000 for the current financial year. It is regrettable that the Government should have played right into the hands of the biggest whisky combine in the world. This particular duty strikes a definite blow at a great many traders in this country, and it will do nothing to improve the quality of the whisky consumed in Australia. On the contrary, it will limit the consumption, of the good quality draught whisky; it will restrict rather than extend employment, and will mean a substantial loss in revenue. I hope that the committee will agree to the amendment which has been moved by the honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Nairn).** {: #subdebate-25-7-s2 .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr HAWKER:
Wakefield .- I very much regret that the Minister did not submit these new spirit duties to the Tariff Board for investigation and report. We should then have had an open inquiry, and been in a better position to judge the merits of the duty now under consideration. The circumstances surrounding the imposition of these duties on spirits arouse suspicion concerning the bona fides of many of the Government's tariff proposals. As the honorable member for Henty **(Mr. Gullett)** has explained, this additional duty on bottled imported whisky benefits one of the biggest combines in the world. The principle was introduced first in the excise regulations. In that form it benefited a well known Australian company in which **Mr. John** Wren is largely interested. In the general debate on the tariff, I quoted figures showing how this discrimination between one set of distillers and another benefited particularly the Federal Distilleries Limited, and when the committee is considering the excise tariff, I shall make a more detailed examination of the proposal. The introduction of this principle in the November excise tariff of 1929 caused great consternation among publicans and wine and spirit merchants, and as a result of the agitation which followed, a circular was sent to every member of this Parliament from the Licensed Victuallers Association of Queensland, explaining how the new proposal affected its members. A little later, in another tariff schedule, this objectionable principle of discriminating in favour of the big interests to the detriment of smaller traders was extended to imported spirits. Since this attempt to distinguish between spirits bottled in bond and spirits removed from bond in bulk is not, strictly speaking, a revenue question, it should have been submitted to the Tariff Board. Had that course been taken and an investigation made, we should not have heard many of the rumours that have been in circulation during the last eighteen months with regard to this and many other items in the schedule. In its original form the duty applied to gin, whisky and brandy. Strangely enough the brandy makers did not ask for it. {: .speaker-KE4} ##### Mr Keane: -- How can the honorable member say that? {: .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr HAWKER: -- Very many brandy distillers are among my constituents. Naturally I know what are their views upon this matter. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- There has been no objection from brandy distillers. {: .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr HAWKER: -- I admit that someparticularly the big brandy makers - derive some benefit from it, and naturally they are now well disposed towards this discriminating duty. Some have told me that they approve of it, but they have also said that they did not ask for it. It is interesting to note that rum, which is produced in Queensland, has been omitted from the list of spirits upon which this handicap has been imposed. The Minister has said that if we could advance any good reason why rum should be included, the Government would consider it. I am not suggesting that rum should be added to the list. I content myself with protesting against the action of the Government in requiring the smaller traders in other potable spirits imported or produced in Australia to bear the expense of this economic waste, in the interests of the bigger concerns. The principle is most objectionable. It is regrettable that all these new spirit duties were not referred to the Tariff Board for investigation and report. By failing to take this course, the Minister, I suggest, did not observe the provisions of the Tariff Board Act, which require him to refer to the board for inquiry and report any request for, among other things, new, increased or reduced duties, or the deferment of existing or proposed deferred duties. It cannotbe claimed that this duty is revenue-producing. The Minister has admitted that its effect on the revenue is trivial, the only additional revenue received from it being in respect of licensing fees for a few extra bonded stores. It is also an infringement of the spirit of the Constitution, which by section 113 lays it down that the control of alcoholic liquor is specifically reserved to the individual States. Under . the hollow pretence of imposing a revenue duty, the Government is introducing something which it professes is in the interest of the control of liquor, but which really has the effect of helping the big interests in the trade. This duty is especially objected to by licensed victuallers, who are not able to carry on their bottling operations as they have done in the past, with an ordinary staff during a slack period. Any bottling they now require to be done has to be carried on under bond conditions. The Minister has said that there are not more than 25 hotels that can afford to run a bonded store in which to carry on these operations. That means that practically all the liquor must be bought in bottles. Then there are the smaller merchants who do not import the big proprietary brands, but who purchase superlative quality whiskies which do not have to be advertised expensively for the purpose of effecting sales. These smaller merchants are put to very considerable expense by having to keep a bonded store. In many cases this regulation is an inducement to prepare whisky for market in such a manner as to prevent its being bottled under the best conditions. When whisky is imported, it is considerably stronger than when it is sold, and it is broken down by being diluted with a certain quantity of distilled water. To be properly broken down, that diluting process should occupy several days. The time taken in this operation does not matter very greatly when a large quantity of whisky is being handled and the bonded store is being used almost continuously. But the expense to a small merchant having a customs representative present while the whisky is being broken down is very considerable, and there is a strong inducement to bottle the whisky before it and the distilled water have been completely " married ". That alone is a severe handicap on the smaller merchant, and is one of the reasons why this form of duty recommends itself and gives a comparative benefit to those who import on a very large scale. Then again, some of the principal advocates of bottling in bond- I do not say that this applies to the Scotch combine - partially avoid expense by the use of a comparatively cheap capsule and label. Upon delivery, the whisky is poured either into a cask or into the publican's bottles, the distiller's bottles then being returned at a trifling expense. From that it will be seen that this boasted protection of the public really amounts to nothing. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr Gabb: -- Do they use the same capsule ? {: .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr HAWKER: -- They could not use the same capsule; but the cost of that which they use is very small. This practice practically amounts to the delivery of the whisky in bulk. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr Gregory: -- It would be too expensive for country people. {: .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr HAWKER: -- It is too expensive for small people in the cities, as well as for country people. A direct obstacle is being offered to the sale of spirit, because its cost is raised. It is an example of economic waste, resulting in the contraction of consumption. It makes the article sold more expensive, and in the long run increases unemployment. I strongly support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Nairn),** first of all because the cost of marketing whisky, brandy and gin is increased and their consumption correspondingly reduced. In addition, a large number of people are being prevented from making a livelihood, and the revenue is being prejudicially affected. Secondly - and this is a very important point - the tendency is to increase the number of public officials. The Minister boasted about the number of new bonded stores there would be, and of the work that would be provided. Only government officials will secure employment. If it were good for the country to increase the cost of goods by adding to the number of government officials employed there might be something in it; but I do not believe that it is, and I am quite certain that the prosperity of the country will not be increased. But my greatest objection is that this duty further enriches the richest section of the trade - the big importing combines - and makes it difficult for the smaller merchants who handle some of the superlative Scotch whiskies to remain in business. Lastly, apart from what has been done on behalf of the Scotch combine, the track is covered of the particular Australian firm which derived the greatest benefit when this principle was first introduced into our excise law. I hope that the committee will accept the amendment. {: #subdebate-25-7-s3 .speaker-KAQ} ##### Mr GIBBONS:
Calare .- The amendment- has a great deal to commend it. The lowering of the standard of the alcoholic liquor distributed among the community would, undoubtedly, lead to extraordinary demoralization. But the suggestion of the Minister in that direction is not borne out by the facts. The distribution of alcoholic liquor at the present time is such that those who consume it do so with a sense of security because of the close supervision that is exercised over its distribution by the State authorities. If there were any guarantee that this was a protection to the public it would be worth while. {: .speaker-KDW} ##### Mr Jones: -- Do you not think that it is? {: .speaker-KAQ} ##### Mr GIBBONS: -- I do not. I consider that the existing supervision is a. sufficient protection for the public. {: .speaker-KE4} ##### Mr Keane: -- Has the honorable member ever drank really bad whisky? {: .speaker-KAQ} ##### Mr GIBBONS: -- I never drink whisky. That, however, does not imply that I am influenced by the big brewing or distributing monopolies in a way that would prevent me from applying common sense to the consideration of this question. An evil that is developing in connexion with the distribution of alcoholic liquors in Australia is the private " trustification " of the different factors associated with their importation and manufacture. There is little doubt that if this attitude is persisted in, the tendency will be to curtail the distribution in small bulk lots. No action of mine will place a handicap upon those who are- suffering inconvenience from that over-capitalization. If there is a private trust which operates tyrannically, it is that represented by the great importing and brewing monopolies in the Commonwealth. I propose to vote against the additional duty, and to support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Nairn).** {: #subdebate-25-7-s4 .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE:
Cowper .- I have been rather interested in the. discussion that has taken place on this, the first item of the tariff. It appears to me that it has given the lie direct to the whole of the election propaganda of the Labour party at the last election, and also to subsequent statements made on behalf of that party regarding what would happen when its tariff was introduced. It will be remembered that the honorable member for Dalley **(Mr. Theodore)** stressed before numerous audiences at the last election the iniquity of the action of the Bruce-Page Government in having imposed a tax of 2s. a gallon on whisky. He assured his hearers everywhere that a Labour government would place no duty upon the food and the drink of the people, especially the working class; that liquor and tobacco would be exempt, and that any additional revenue found to be necessary would be obtained in other ways. Now the Minister has asked the committee not to reduce this duty, because the revenue would be lowered. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- I mentioned whisky duties generally, because I knew that representations had been made to every honorable member to reduce them. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE: -- Prior to the last general election the present Treasurer **(Mr. Theodore)** and other Labour candidates clearly stated that the Labour party believed in the imposition of customs duties to encourage the establishment of new industries, in order to provide employment, and not for the purpose of obtaining revenue. The Minister **(Mr. Forde)** now states that the duty provides the Government with a certain amount of revenue. {: .speaker-KE4} ##### Mr Keane: -- But there has been a change in our economic position since then. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE: -- The statement to which I have referred was made on the 10th October, 1929, and on the 11th December of the same year higher duties were imposed *solely* for the purpose of increasing the revenue. Apparently the Labour party has changed its attitude with respect to customs duties and other forms of indirect taxation very rapidly. Prior to and for several months after the last general election, the present Minister for Customs and other members of the party to which he belongs stated that the imposition of higher customs duties would result in additional employment, The Minister mentioned numerous new industries that were to be established, in some of which he said 5,000 additional men would eventually be employed. A representative of the coalminers totalled up the number *oi* additional men who, according to the Minister, would be provided with employment, and found that practically 1,000,000 additional men would be employed. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- That is nonsense. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE: -- The industry under discussion provides a typical instance of what has actually happened as a result of the Government's tariff proposals. In so far as the distillation of spirit is concerned, possibly 24 or 25 additional men have been provided with employment, while approximately 2,000 men who were previously engaged in the handling and distribution of spirituous liquors have been thrown out of work. It is estimated that in. New South "Wales 606 fewer persons are now engaged in the handling and distribution of spirit than was the case eighteen months ago. The Minister frequently stated that thousands of additional men would be provided with work, but the facts in this instance disclose that as a result of the higher duties imposed employment has been seriously curtailed. {: .speaker-KE4} ##### Mr Keane: -- Where did the right honorable member obtain those figures? {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE: -- They were supplied by the Licensed Victuallers Association of New South Wales, and I have also received similar figures from the Licensed Victuallers Association of Queensland, and other sources, which confirm my statement. Up to the present no one has attempted to disprove their accuracy. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- The. decrease, if any, is due to general trade depression and a consequent heavy falling off in the consumption of spirits. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE: -- The Minister said that these and other duties are imposed to protect industry and to provide employment. But he now admits that such is not the case. In reply to a point raised by the honorable member for Henty **(Mr. Gullett),** he advocated the retention of the present rates in order to protect the revenue. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- The consumption of all spirituous liquors has been affected by the depression. {: .speaker-C7E} ##### Dr EARLE PAGE: -- The Minister should give all the facts in connexion with this industry, and tell the committee that, notwithstanding the higher duies, which he said were imposed to provide additional employment, there has been an actual diminution. I have yet to learn that this Parliament is the place in which effect should be given to the desires of commercial combines in this country. The duty now under discussion has been imposed to encourage' the bottling of spirits in bond, but it benefits only certain commercial combines, and is of absolute detriment to those engaged in the business in a small way, such as wine and spirit merchants and hotelkeepers generally. I wish to register my protest against any action which is against the interests of small men, who are as much entitled to consideration as are those engaged, in business on an extensive scale. The Minister, in making a futile attempt to justify the retention of this rate, based his argument on the necessity of only the purest liquor being made available to the public. Surely he recognizes that the purity or otherwise of spirituous or other beverages is a matter for the State authorities. It is his duty to prove that, whisky bottled out of bond is not so pure as that bottled under the supervision of excise officers, and until he can do so the committee should give those engaged in business in a small way the benefit of the doubt. I am glad to see that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Nairn)** is to receive support from a quarter from which we do not usually expect it. Fair play is bonny play, and I trust that a majority of the committee will support the amendment. {: #subdebate-25-7-s5 .speaker-KDW} ##### Mr JONES:
Indi .- I was rather 'surprised that the right honorable member for Cowper **(Dr. Earle Page),** who is a medical practitioner, should discuss this subject from the employment standpoint rather than from that of public health, which is of paramount importance. When I was abroad some yeai'3 ago I had the opportunity and privilege of inspecting certain British industries, including the whisky distilleries of John Power and Sons in Dublin. During my inspection, the process of distillation was fully explained to me by one of the firm's representatives, who assured me that only the best of ingredients were used, and that they were blended in the most scientific manner. I said that in such circumstances whisky should be a healthy beverage, and he informed me that it was, but it must be good. As the object of the Government in this instance is to ensure that the public shall bc supplied with a pure spirit only, the proposed duty should be adopted. In my younger days I was employed in gold-mining. During a severe epidemic of influenza the position became so serious, ten or twelve or more men falling sick daily, that I conferred with my mate, who occupied an adjoining hut, when we decided that the best preventive was whisky. We purchased a bottle, which at the time could be bought for 7s. 6d., which we shared, and we were the only two out of 400 who were not affected. . During the war, influenza, in a very severe form, was raging throughout Europe, and a conference of medical men, held in London, recommended good whisky as the best cure. From, that time whisky was ordered for those who were suffering from that complaint, but it was distinctly stipulated that the whisky must be of good quality. As the imposition of this duty is to ensure that only brandy of the best quality shall be available, and as that is the main consideration, I intend to support the duty provided in the schedule. {: #subdebate-25-7-s6 .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY:
Swan -- I was somewhat in doubt as to how to vote on this item, seeing that the commodity involved is a luxury, and revenue is needed, but after hearing the remarks of some honorable members, particularly to the effect that under these duties revenue has decreased, I feel that a reduction in the rates may result in higher revenue being obtained. It is extraordinary to find the Government imposing an additional 5s. per gallon on all brandy bottled out of bond upon the flimsy excuse that such an imposition will assist to protect the health of the people. Many honorable members are aware that it was once the practice of whisky consumers to travel a considerable distance to visit some sturdy old publican who retailed a particularly good whisky from bulk supplies. It is remarkable to find that the proposal of the Government in this instance operates only in the interests of big commercial combines, to which honorable members opposite were once very strongly opposed. . Apparently, the Government is entirely disregarding the interests of the smaller men. The late President Wilson 'once said that if big corporations contribute £50,000 towards party funds they naturally expect their interests to be safeguarded. Whose interests are being protected in this case? We have a good idea as to who were being looked after in connexion with certain excise duties. If onehalf of what we have heard is correct, it is fairly clear that- {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- The honorable member should not judge others by his own standard. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY: -- I am basing my contention on my experience of the Minister since he has been a member of the Government. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- The honorable member should say what he means. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY: -- In this instance a big advantage is being given to certain combines. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- The honorable member should be more specific. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY: -- The present Minister was not in charge of the department at the time to which I refer. The Minister states that no influence has been brought to bear on the Government. I should like to know in whose interests this thing has been done. Are we to believe that the Government has acted only in the interests of the poor people, in order that they shall have pure liquor ? As has been pointed' out, the payment of an extra 5s. a gallon purchases the privilege of poisoning the people at will; so long as the Government gets the extra 5s. a gallon, the people do not matter. I should like to know in whose interests this is done. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- It is done in the interests of the people. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr GREGORY: -- Then it is similar to the embargo on galvanized iron ! The committee would fail in its duty if it allowed this item to pass. For years the same amount of duty has been charged on whisky brought here in bulk; but the ordinary trader is no longer permitted to import whisky in the way that he imported it in the past. Why should he not have the same right to poison the people as is given to the big combine ? I hope that the committeewill insist on the duty on all whisky entering Australia in bulk being the same, irrespective of the persons importing it. In view of the need for increased revenue, I am prepared to tax luxuries even more than at present; but it does appear that the big increase in the duties on spirits has decreased, rather than increased, the revenue. The Government would do well to consider a reduction of duties on spirits generally. {: #subdebate-25-7-s7 .speaker-JUB} ##### Mr D CAMERON:
BRISBANE. QLD · NAT >I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Nairn)** . In December, 1929, the wine and spirit section of the Brisbane Merchants Association communicated with the then Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Fenton)** in regard to the duty on whisky. The contention raised at that time applies with equal force to-day. In that letter it was stated - >At a meeting of members of the wine and spirit section of the Brisbane Merchants Association held recently, the. special excise of duty of5s. pergallon imposed by your Government was given great consideration owing to the far-reaching effect it is going to have upon the trade generally. For instance, at present nearly every merchant in the State bottles his wines and spirits in his own store, out of bond. Under the new regulation, this proeadure will be abolished unless a merchant has his own bond. In Queensland, there are only one or two firms with their own bond - the cost of licence and customs attention being prohibitive for the average firm. Therefore they will all be compelled to either cease business or purchase their requirements in a cased condition from the distillers in the southern States. > >Most of the wine and spirit houses will have to dispense with easily one-third of their present bottling staff, as it will be impossible to compete with the southern distillers, who will bottle under bond. This factor is not the only aspect to be considered. Take the following: - > > *Label-printing Trade.* - The printers in Queensland will receive no orders for printing wine and spirit labels, as these will be supplied from Melbourne, as the goods will arrive ready for sale to the hotelkeepers. > > *Bottle Merchants and Glassworks.* - Neither the bottle merchants nor the local bottle works will be necessary to the wineand spirit trade if the present5s. excise impost is not repealed. > > *Carters.* - The bottle, glassworks, and printing carters must be affected by the regulation. > >In fact, all trades in any way connected with the wine and spirit business must feel in a few months that this new tariff regula tion is a serious matter. It will increase unemployment, and will mean that in place of the various wine and spirit stores all employing bottling staffs, they will only be acting as distributors for the southern manufacturers. In the past, the various wholesale wine and spirit merchants have bottled in their own stores without any penalty, and our members would respectfully ask you to use your efforts so that this 5s. bottling under bond impost is removed. At present they are subject to constant inspection by the Health Department, all their wine and spirit departments being compelled to be up to requirements, and the records prove that the members of this association have honorably conducted their businesses. We feel that with your assistance, members will be able to remedy their troubles. Subsequently to that letter being sent to the Minister, he met a deputation representative of the licensed victuallers throughout Australia on the same subject. There has been no change in the position since that time - May, 1930 - and, consequently, I support the amendment. {: #subdebate-25-7-s8 .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah -- I agree with the right honorable member forCowper **(Dr. Earle Page)** that this is a most extraordinary proposal, coming from a. Government which practically won the election on the promise of its campaign director in New South "Wales that no additional duties would be placed on spirits and tobacco if a Labour government were returned. The Government whichmade that promise has imposed duties so high that they have resulted in a loss of revenue to the Commonwealth as well as a loss of employment to many Australian citizens. It is time that a strong protest was made against the non-fulfilment of the promises made at election time. The Minister has not justified the retention of this duty. As has been pointed out, the Government's proposal is in the interests of certain combines in this country. *Sitting suspended from 6.14 to 8 p.m.* {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- Before the dinner adjournment I was pointing out that the Minister has failed to justify the retention of this additional duty on whisky. The honorable gentleman took up a great deal of time in explaining that the duty was imposed as a safeguard to the public health, following upon certain recommendations that were made by a commission which investigated our pure foods legislation. I .submit that that consideration does not arise in a taxation measure such as this. These additional duties are imposed not to safeguard the public health, but purely for taxation purposes, to obtain more revenue for the government of the country. It has been pointed out repeatedly by honorable members on this side of the chamber that this additional impost is distinctly in the interests of the great whisky combine, and is detrimental to those of the retailers and smaller trades people. Why should the Government manifest this great care and interest on behalf of that combine? {: .speaker-KE4} ##### Mr Keane: -- For many years the honorable member paid great attention to their interests. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- The honorable member is talking in that maudlin fashion that is characteristic of him. His interjection has no relevance to my statement. I am asking the Government what justification it has for protecting the combine to the detriment of smaller interests. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- What combine? {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- The honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** knows perfectly well that this additional duty is imposed in the interests of the whisky combine, and that it militates against those of the retail traders. I have here a statement of the case from the point of view of the United Licensed Victuallers Association of the Commonwealth of Australia, which, I submit, affords a conclusive answer to the defence raised by the Government. The association summarizes its objections to the duty as follows: - {: type="A" start="I"} 0. The additional duty of 5s. per gallon on spirits bottled out of bond (on top of heavy customs and excise duties), is an unfair tax on the retailers of Australia, and prevents them from selling bulk spirits to the public at a cheaper rate than bottled proprietary spirits. The retailers are prevented from selling to the general public an article which it wants, at a cost less than that at which they are compelled to sell the proprietary article. {: .speaker-KDW} ##### Mr Jones: -- The quality of bulk whisky is not guaranteed. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- The factor of quality does not come into question. Bottled spirits are just as open to the allegation of dilution or impurity as are bulk spirits. The association continues - {: type="1" start="2"} 0. A tax of this nature is not in force in any other part of the world. I draw special attention to that statement, which takes back my memory to the original imposition of this duty and the rumours that were then current with respect to it. The fact that a similar tax is not imposed in any other country in the world causes me to believe that there is ample justification for the allegations that were then made, and that are still current. I invite the Minister to explain why his Government has departed from a custom that obtains in every other part of the world. There i seems to be some reason of a knock-out nature for this departure, which is not apparent on the surface. The statement proceeds - {: type="1" start="3"} 0. The add tax does not give the slightest extra protection to the public. 1. The said tax does not, and cannot, create any additional employment. 2. The said tax is responsible for practically no additional 'revenue to the Commonwealth Government. 3. The said tax imposes a serious disability on tho hotelkeepers throughout Australia (99 per cent, of whom are not in the position to establish bonded warehouses in which to bottle their own spirits). Honorable members opposite have asked in what way the combine is assisted by this provision. The answer is clearly given in the last paragraph. The association goes on with its reasons - {: type="1" start="7"} 0. The real object of the said tax is to prevent hotelkeepers from selling bulk whisky to the public, and to force them to deal exclusively with the proprietary lines of spirits bottled by the whisky combine. That is an answer to those who want to know where the interests of the whisky combine come in. My allegation is amply substantiated by the opinion of the association. Evidence of that nature should have some weight in this chamber if the matter is to be decided on its merits, unbiased by ulterior reasons. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- What are those I'Geasons? {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL: -- The honorable member knows them well enough. The next paragraph reads - >The tax in question was asked for by . the members of the whisky combine, who are the only beneficiaries under this special tax. > >In the interests of the public, as well as in the interests of the retailers, we confidently appeal to you to assist in having this imposition removed. My only interest in this matter is a desire to obtain additional revenue for the country, and to provide more employment. I submit that by retaining this duty the Government will not only reduce its revenue, at a time when more is badly needed, but that it will also decrease employment to a community that is already suffering severely from unemployment as a result of the policy of this Government. {: #subdebate-25-7-s9 .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr MACKAY:
Lilley .- I cannot work up any particular enthusiasm for the interests of the liquor trade. In my opinion there can be only two reasons to justify the Minister in persisting with these duties, the health of the general public, and the obtaining of additional revenue. The Minister has stated that he is acting on the recommendations of a certain health conference that was held in Melbourne some time ago, but he admitted that he was adopting only portion of those recommendations. It would be interesting to discover precisely the nature of the recommendations that are being adopted, and those which the honorable gentleman prefers to ignore. It is well-known that the Government is exceedingly impecunious and is looking about in all directions for additional revenue. Unfortunately, the Minister has not taken the committee into his confidence by stating how much revenue it has derived from these duties, and what are his future expectations. That information is necessary if the committee is to arrive at a reasonable conclusion in the matter. Some little time ago I received correspondence that had passed between the Brisbane Customs Department and a Queensland firm that is importing " Cairns " whisky - a very superior article, for which there are not many agencies in the Commonwealth. The firm concerned is in a country district, and asked that it should be allowed to' bottle this whisky, under the supervision of the police. Its request was refused by the Customs Department, which stated that it would be necessary to send a Customs officer to that country town to supervise the bottling, all expenses incurred to be paid by the firm. That, of course, was an impossible arrangement, as it would unduly increase the price of the articles I urge the Minister to accede to the very strong representations which have been made to him in this matter by the retailers. I am aware that the Government is very desirous of making ends meet, but this is a very poor and inadequate method. It is quite evident that the Government hoped to obtain increased: revenue from this source, but from thefigures I have been able to obtain itwould appear that the only result is the creation of embarrassment and unnecessary expense to the retail trade, and that no protection has been given to the whisky industry. I suggest that the Minister should make a more satisfactory reply than he has done to the criticism that has been levelled at the imposition of this duty. {: #subdebate-25-7-s10 .speaker-JT7} ##### Mr McNEILL:
Minister for Health · Wannon · ALP -- I support the action of the Government in this matter. When the Government assumed office it found the exchequer very short of revenue, and examined every avenue in an effort to discover ways and means to supplement its income. It very naturally turned to the Customs Department, and whisky was one of the first items chosen upon which to impose a heavy duty. It must be kept in mind that the people of Australia stand for a policy of protection. I disagree entirely with those who maintain that this additional duty is intended to bolster up the interests of the whisky combine. However, irrespective of whether that is so or not, the Government has to find revenue, and it considers the imposition of this additional 5s. a gallon on imported whisky not bottled in bond a reasonable one. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- The higher the duty, the lower the revenue of the Government. {: .speaker-JT7} ##### Mr McNEILL: -- If that is so, the logical action is to reduce the excise duty. If one or the other is done, the revenue of the country must diminish materially. Further, if the duty were reduced tomorrow a nobbier of whisky would not cost a farthing- less than it does now. An honorable member says something about Dewar's whisky. That has always been considered a very good whisky, although I am ' not a whisky connoisseur. But we have to bear in mind that spirit manufactured in Australia compares; after maturing for a few years, more than favorably with the whiskies manufactured in Scotland. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- Some of it is chain-lightning. {: .speaker-JT7} ##### Mr McNEILL: -- It is not. The honorable member must be thinking about some of the bad mixtures that are obtained, at times, in back country towns. The usual brands of whisky, brandy, and rum manufactured in Australia compare favorably with the spirit obtainable in any part of the world. The Government is in need of revenue, and if this duty is removed, it will have to obtain the lost revenue from somewhere else. {: .speaker-KIT} ##### Mr Mackay: -- If every one could bottle, the revenue might be effected. {: .speaker-JT7} ##### Mr McNEILL: -- But every one cannot bottle; they have not the facilities for doing so. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- That is the injustice of the thing. {: .speaker-JT7} ##### Mr McNEILL: -- I am aware that it is impossible for every one to bottle ; but I am concerned about the revenue aspect of the subject. If this duty is removed, the retail price of a nobbler of whisky will not be reduced. It must be remembered that the duty was imposed chiefly to provide revenue. The Government was and is in urgent needof money. If the duty is removed, the loss in revenue will probably be between £20,000 and £30,000 per annum. I urge the committee to agree to the item. If subsequent experience shows that the duty inflicts an injustice on those who have no facilities for bottling whisky, the Government can review the matter. I support the item, first, because I am a protectionist; secondly, because the Government needs revenue, and, thirdly, because the removal of the impost will not cheapen the price of whisky. {: #subdebate-25-7-s11 .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr GULLETT:
Henty .- I make a final appeal to the committee to support the amendment. The issue is simple. I cannot understand the attitude of the Government. There is no case for the imposition of this duty on the ground which the Minister has suggested, that it is necessary from a revenue point of view, as will be shown when we are debating the principal whisky item. In recent years, every time the duty on whisky has been raised, the revenue has suffered, because the consumption of whisky has been seriously reduced. The issue before us is between two parties. . One party has been described, and properly so I am afraid, as the whisky combine, though I do not use the term in a sinistersense. This party is composed of the five great Scottish whisky firms: - James Buchanan and Company Limited, John Dewar and Sons, Limited, Distillers Agency Limited, John Walker and Sons Limited, and White Horse Distillers Limited. The other party consists of small Australian business men - thousands of licensed victuallers and thousands of wine and spirit merchants throughout the country. These are the conflicting parties. The imposition of this 5s. extra duty on imported whisky not bottled in bond severely penalizes thousands of business men domiciled in Australia, and with capital invested in this country; but it confers a substantial benefit upon the big whisky combine domiciled on the other side of the world, and with all its capital there. {: .speaker-JT7} ##### Mr McNeill: -- Those people have put their money into this industry in Australia and are building it up. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr GULLETT: -- But thousands of our own people have invested their money in the business here, and they are being penalized by this duty. In a great many instances, they can no longer carry on business as direct importers. It is a gross interference with the liberty of the Australian business man to say that he shall no longer import bulk whisky without incurring a penalty of 5s. per gallon. I appeal to honorable members opposite to support the amendment, because it is in the interests of thousands of Australian people who have invested all their money in Australia. Surely the interests of these should be considered in preference to the interests of the great millionaire whisky trust, the shareholders of which are all on the other side of the world. It is remarkable that this Government, of all governments, should be fighting so aggressively and pugnaciously in the interest of this millionaire concern in Great Britain, and against the interests of thousands of our own people in Australia. I know where this application came from, for it came to me from these very companies, when I was Minister for Trade and Customs. And it came from no one else. It was never even suggested to me that the imposition of this duty would serve any other interests than those of the people who made the application. When the proposal was put to me I laughed at it, because it was so absurd. I told the applicants that it was an impossible proposition. They must have thought that I was very young, or very simple, or very new in my department to expect that I would agree to such a proposition. The choice between the conflicting interests was so obvious. Why should the great Scottish whisky firms be not only exporters from overseas, but also importers, retailers and bottlers in Australia? Why should not our own licensed victuallers and wine and spirit merchants buy whisky wholesale in Great Britain if they desire to do so? Every other retailer in this country can buy wholesale overseas. Why should not our licensed victuallers and wine and spirit merchants be permitted to. buy whisky, brandy, and gin at their discretion at the source of supply? Why should they be dependent on these five millionaire firms, and be obliged to take from them such supplies as the combine cares to dole out to them at a fixed price? The whole thing is an outrage upon Australian business interests, and it is amazing that this Government should expect even its own supporters to vote for the proposal. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- Is there a full opportunity for overcoming the difficulties mentioned by the Minister in regard to quality and. proper supervision? {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr GULLETT: -- Most honorable members know that the best, purest, and least injurious whisky in this country is that which is sold here in bulk. Before the imposition of this duty a man who had £10 to spend on whisky and who placed an order with one of the wine and spirit merchants for a quantity of bulk whisky, obtained better whisky in that way than he would have done by spending the money on battled whisky. It is the ABC of the whisky trade that bulk whisky is to be preferred to bottled whisky. Everybody who knows anything about the whisky trade knows that the proprietary bottled whisky is a relatively new, though sound, whisky. If a person wants the whisky which is least harmful to the consumer, he obtains bulk whisky every time. We know very well that every reputable wine and spirit merchant established for any length of time in our country towns takes a pride in selling a good draught whisky. Such firms used to import quantities of such whisky, and retail it in small quantities to the country people as one of their specialities. In the great majority of cases, it was regarded as a very good whisky. But since the imposition of this duty, many of these firms have lost that trade, and some of them are going out of the business. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- They are doing nothing of the kind. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr GULLETT: -- If the Minister for Trade and Customs wants some first-hand information on this subject, I ask him to communicate with the wine and spirit merchants of his own town of Rockhampton. He will soon discover from them that a rank injustice has been done to such firms, some of which have been in the business nearly 100 years. Such firms have been in the habit of selling bulk quantities of their particular whisky to pastoralists and others outback; but now they have to pay a duty of 5s. per gallon for the right to do this business. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- They can bottle the whisky in bond. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr GULLETT: -- They cannot, for only comparatively few of them have the facilities for bottling in bond. It would not pay many of them to take out a bond licence. I am amazed that this so-called democratic Government) should have imposed this duty, which is opposed by the licensed victuallers. It is one of the most outrageous little things ever done. {: #subdebate-25-7-s12 .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- One is puzzled to know why the honorable member for Henty **(Mr. Gullett)** should beat the air so much. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- A rank injustice is being done, and the Government is playing up to the millionaire whisky firms. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The honorable gentleman, in making his wild statements, has forgotten the facts of the case. Almost the last word he said was that the licensed victuallers were against the imposition of this duty. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- So they are. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I shall read 'to honorable members a resolution in regard to this subject carried by the Council of the Licensed Victuallers Association of Victoria {: .speaker-JVR} ##### Mr Nairn: -- It is the only one of its kind that was carried, and the body that carried it had to resign over it. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- It is not the only one. The resolution reads as follows : - >That this council is of opinion that the policy of the federation in supporting Australian manufacture should be approved, and that the action of the Federal Government in increasing spirits bottled out of bond by 5s. a gallon is in the interests of the public of Australia, and as long as the federal president, the secretary, and the treasurer pursue these objectives they will have the complete confidence of this council. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- -That is a knock for the honorable member for Warringah **(Mr. Parkhill).** {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- It is not. I quoted the resolution of the Licensed Victuallers Association of Australia, the senior body. {: .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr Hawker: -- The chairman of that council, I am told, was an employee of one of the distilleries specially favoured. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The honorable member for Wakefield **(Mr. Hawker),** who is interjecting, would be well advised to consider how the barleygrowers in his electorate will regard his attitude on this subject. In making insinuations against what he calls the whisky combine, he is reflecting upon the Australian distilleries, which are the principal buyers of the barley grown in his electorate. The barley-growers of Australia are keenly interested in. this subject, and the honorable member will find it difficult satisfactorily to explain his position to these producers, for he is levelling a serious indictment against them this evening. The honorable member for Henty **(Mr. Gullett)** when he mentions certain names in an effort to bolster up his pet theory, is using a poor form of argument. What has the name of any person to do with the 'building up of an Australian industry? Practically all imported whisky arrives in bulk. It is put into bond, and the importer may do one of two things. He may bottle it in bond under the supervision of the Customs Department, or he may bottle it out of bond in which case an additional duty of 5s. a gallon is imposed. He has then a free hand to do what he likes with the whisky. I am not imputing motives, but I say that the door is left open to him to sell whisky that is not true to label. {: .speaker-KFS} ##### Mr Gullett: -- Does the Minister suggest that the importer habitually does that? {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- No, but the door is left open to him to dispose of it in any way he likes. We should, in the public interest, close that door.' We should ensure that the purchasing public is getting an article true to label. {: .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: -- Even if an importer pays this tax of 5s., the door is still left open to him to sell whisky not true to label. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- That is an argument in favour of increasing the tax. In any case, the tax is a deterrent only. We do not inflict it upon the imported' so long as he is prepared to give a guarantee that the article he sells is true to label. Is not the public deserving of some consideration in this matter ? Is it not entitled, in regard to the whisky that it purchases, to the same guarantee of quality that it receives in regard to its purchases of bread, butter, or anything else! {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- Why is not this tax imposed elsewhere in the world? {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The honorable member is wrong again. The licensed victuallers of Victoria recently passed a resolution in favour of taxing whisky bottled out of bond. They did that in the public interests. The honorable member for Henty also said that this tax imposes a hardship on the hotelkeepers in regard to the sale of house whisky. I cannot understand that argument, because statistics show that of the spirits sold in Australia about 70 per cent. represents single bottle sales due, no doubt, to the early closing laws, the greater part of the balance representing nobbier sales over the counter. By far the .greater proportion of these bottled spirits would be proprietary brands. About 5 per cent, would represent sales of bulk or house whisky. In view of those figures, I fail to see that any great injustice is being inflicted upon the hotelkeepers who are selling house whisky, in consequence of the imposition of this taxation. I cannot understand why the honorable member should not be anxious to. protect public interests, because the public has. the right to get an article true to label whether it be butter, bread, whisky, or anything else. The honorable member for Wakefield **(Mr. Hawker)** made a moat amazing attack upon a local industrythe Australian distilleries. He, evidently, does not want this industry to be established in this country. The statistics show that an enormous quantity of barley is consumed by these distilleries; and upon making inquiries, I find that most of this barley comes from South Australia and, in particular, from the electorate of the honorable member for Wakefield **(Mr. Hawker).** Yorke Peninsula, which is part of the electorate of Wakefield, is regarded as one of the largest barley producing areas in Australia. {: .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr Hawker: -- That is why I contend that whisky should not be overtaxed. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- The honorable member evidently agrees with me that the growers in his electorate produce most of the barley which is consumed by the Australian distilleries. Take, for instance, the Federal Distillery. That distillery, for the four years ending the 30 th April, 1,927, purchased £43,000 worth of barley, and from that date to the 30th of April, 1930, its purchases of barley amounted to £46,770. Those figures exclude the value of barley and other grain used by other distilleries operating in Australia. The honorable member for Wakefield will, in view of those statistics, agree with me that this industry is of great assistance to the barley-growers in his electorate. They are assured of a market at a time when they and other primary producers are faced with falling prices and the uncertainty of sales. The barley-growers have the best market of all - the local market - and it will be lost to them if the Australian distilleries are destroyed. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- Will the Minister explain how the removal of this special tax of 5s. on whisky bottled out ofbond will affect the local distilleries? {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I am replying to the honorable member for Wakefield, who, this afternoon, attacked the local distilleries. He referred to them as a huge combine. I am defending this industry and showing that the honorable member should be one of the first to support the distilleries because they are the principal consumers of the barley that is produced in his electorate. He refuses to give protection to this industry in this instance, and to. be consistent he must oppose every item in the tariff that gives any form, of protection to the Australian distilleries. The Government, in imposing this tax of 5s. on whisky bottled out of bond, is endeavouring to protect the people of Australia by ensuring to them an article that is true to label. {: #subdebate-25-7-s13 .speaker-JVR} ##### Mr NAIRN:
Perth .- The Minister for Markets **(Mr. Parker Moloney)** was asked a very plain question, but he made no attempt to. answer it; in fact he strictly avoided it. He was asked how the distilleries of Australia would be adversely affected by the removal of the special duty of 5s. a gallon on whisky bottled out of bond. It is more likely that these distilleries would be assisted, because every rise in the price causes a diminution in the consumption, and the interests of the distilleries would he best served by an increased consumption. I do not suggest that the Minister would knowingly mislead the public, but he has drawn attention to a resolution of the Victorian Licensed Victuallers Association, which, if it went unexplained, would be misleading. As a result of that resolution, a federal conference of licensed victuallers was held almost immediately, and the decision of the Victorian body was repudiated. The members of the committee of the Victorian Association resigned their positions, and these were taken by other members. In reply to the statement of the Minister that the hotelkeepers favour this special duty, I may mention that I have received circulars from the Licensed Victuallers Associations of Queensland and Western Australia to the contrary effect. I have personal knowledge that the New South Wales association is strongly opposed to the duty. I also have a letter from the United Licensed Victuallers Association of theCommonwealthof Australia, dated the 29th April, 1931, and the first paragraph reads as follows: - 1 am directed by the federal committee of management of this association representing the hotelkeepers throughout Australia to urge you to record your vote against the special duty of 5s. per gallon on certain spirits (not bottled in bond) when such duty comes up for ratification in the Federal Parliament. That letter shows that the Licensed Victuallers are unanimously in favour of the removal of this impost. {: .speaker-KDW} ##### Mr Jones: -- What about the health of the people? {: .speaker-JVR} ##### Mr NAIRN: -- This duty gives the public no protection whatever in regard to the quality of the liquor supplied. The danger to the public arises from the sale of illicitly distilled spirit. There is no likelihood of cheap deleterious spirit being brought in from abroad, since there is an import duty of 45s. a gallon. Nobody is likely to import inferior potato spirit, or "moonshine", in face of that enormous duty. All the deleterious liquor is manufactured locally in illicit stills, and the bottling of whisky in bond affords no protection against that class of spirit. The illicit stuff is disposed of largely through certain hotelkeepers, who assist in this dishonest trade. That type of hotelkeeper takes a bottle of spirit of a proprietary line, pours out a half or a quarter of it, and fills up the bottle with illicitly distilled spirit. The fact that the bottle was originally filled and corked in bond affords no protection whatever to the public. In one respect, the special duty, together with the other high imposts, encourages illicit trading in Australia. The high charges have increased the price of whisky up to about 85s. a gallon. That is almost a prohibitive price, and it encourages the illicit distiller and the dishonest hotelkeeper who is prepared to indulge in this sly trade. If whisky were cheaper, it would not be worth while taking the risk of disposing of illicitly distilled spirit. If the owner of an illicit still sold his product at only onethird the ordinary price, he could make a large profit, because he pays no duty. It has been claimed on behalf of the Government that this special duty will cause an increase of revenue. I understood the Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Forde)** to say that he estimated that about 99 per cent, of the whisky imported into Australia was bottled in bond. If that figure is approximately correct, the amount of extra duty collected on what may be called bulk whisky is negligible, and is likely to be offset by the reduced consumption attributable to the excessive price. Before the late war, whisky of good quality was sold in bond at from 5s. to 10s. a gallon, but the present price of whisky, of about the same quality as that sold by what is called the combine, is from 32s. 6d. to 37s. 6d., a gallon. So far as I can see, there is no justification for that great increase in price, because the costs of production in Scotland are not materially higher now than they were ' before the late war. Many Scottish manufacturers who are operating outside the combine are able to sell whisky here at from 18s. to 20s. a gallon. For the most part this is good, matured spirit, because these manufacturers have not the ready turnover enjoyed by the big combine, and, on the whole, their whisky is held for a longer period than that sold by the combine. Honorable members know that practically every club and hotel of standing has its house whisky. Since bulk whisky is generally of the best quality, and most hotelkeepers pride themselves upon the quality of their house whisky, it is possible to obtain a better whisky from sources outside the combine than from within it. For these reasons the public should not be deprived of the chance of obtaining a good, wholesome whisky at a reduced rate. We should look at this matter from a broad point of view. Why should those who wish to purchase whisky be obliged to pay an extra duty on top of the present high impost? The way in which the prices of all commodities have increased in Australia is absurd. These high prices are one of the serious causes of the reduction of trade, and of the present depression. In dealing with this tariff item, as with all the others, we should act on the principle that the lower the prices at which goods can be supplied to the public, the larger will be the turnover. {: #subdebate-25-7-s14 .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr HAWKER:
Wakefield .- The remarks of the Minister for Markets **(Mr. Parker Moloney)** demand some reply. In the first place, he contended that opposition to differentiation between certain distilleries and others involved an attack upon the Australian distilling industry, to the detriment of the use of Australian barley. What I object to is differentiation between one distillery and another, and in order to make a differentiation between a distillery favoured by the Government and others, the price of Australian whisky is raised. This reduces the consumption of the article, and, therefore, reduces the sale of barley. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- Does not the honorable member know that a controlling interest in both distilleries in Australia is held by the whisky firms who control the distilleries in Scotland? {: .speaker-KOC} ##### Mr HAWKER: -- That is the case today; but it was not so when this new principle was introduced. One of the effects of the special duty was to enable one of the Australian distilleries to sell out to another on very favorable terms. The Corio Distillery is not the only producer of whisky in Australia. Milne and Company and Tolley and Company, of South Australia, both produced an Australian whisky, and, before the special duty was applied, their spirit was sold over bar counters in Adelaide at 6d. a nobbier; but the effect of the duty was to raise the cost of the article so that it could not be sold at that price. That was favoring one distillery at the expense of others, and it is that to which I object. There were certain distilleries which preferred to send their whisky out in bottles. They had a very large trade, and did a lot of advertising; but there were the smaller local whisky producers who had certain trade connexions, and who supplied the hotels in their own localities at a price lower than that charged by their competitors. These manufacturers supplied a perfectly wholesome article in bulk; but since the Government has made the distinction to which I have referred, whisky is made more expensive, and the effect has been to reduce the market for Australian barley. However, we are now discussing import duties, and that is where the most serious discrimination occurs. The smaller merchants to whom I have referred are being placed at a disadvan tage in competition with the big proprietary firms. The Minister for Markets, in view of his experience, should not have used such unsound argument as was employed by him when he quoted the resolution carried some time last year by the council of the Licensed Victuallers Association of Victoria. The honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Nairn)** pointed out that that resolution was arrived at contrary to the wishes of the majority of the licensed victuallers of Victoria and of Australia, and consequently the members of the council had to resign. The chairman of that council, I am informed, was an employee of one of the distilleries that was specially favoured by this new kind of differentiation in regard to duties or an employee of one of its largest shareholders. Naturally he supported the interests of the distillery on the council, to which he was elected because of the position held by him in a hotel which the distillery or one of its shareholders owned. The fact that the resolution was afterwards rescinded, that the members who carried it resigned and that it was overruled by the Federal Council of the Licensed Victuallers Association, shows that the Minister did not display his usual astuteness in accepting it as sufficient justification for his attitude to-day. I am referring to the Minister for Markets **(Mr. Parker Moloney).** In his desire to assist his colleague he has acted on this occasion with an impetuosity which is rare in his case by advancing any argument, good or bad. One would hardly expect it from a man of his experience and acumen. But the arguments against the imposition all hold good. It is practically no safeguard to the public. On the contrary it makes the product more expensive, decreases the revenue, increases unemployment, reduces the market for Australian barley and favours the rich and the strong as against those who are in a small way. I feel confident that the committee will set its face against this most astonishing innovation. {: #subdebate-25-7-s15 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
West Sydney .- As the discussion proceeds it appears to me that some very important information is being disclosed, and that we have readied what we might call an interesting stage. In my desire to understand how local distilleries are affected I asked the Minister for Markets for an explanation. {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I informed the honorable member that I was replying to an attack made on the local distilleries. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- But it appears to me, from what I can gather, that the argument that whatever whisky is prevented from being imported by small importers because of the extra impost may be produced by the local distilleries, is counteracted by the fact that it may also be produced by the larger distilleries mentioned by the honorable member for Henty **(Mr. Gullett),** Buchanan's and White Horse. It seems to me the local combine and the overseas combine are all in the one boat, and that the extra imposition will not affect the local situation at all. {: .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr Archdale Parkhill: -- It affects the local hotelkeeper. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- But it does not affect the local distilleries, and, as it does not achieve anything from the point of view of providing employment, I must dismiss that aspect from consideration. Then there is the question of bottling; but whatever is not bottled in bond must be bottled by the local hotelkeeper, therefore, the argument that this imposition provides extra employment also breaks down, and I can see no warrant whatever on the facts already adduced for the extra imposition. {: .speaker-JZK} ##### Mr Coleman: -- Is it not better to have all spirits bottled in bond under super- vision? {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- When the honorable member for Henty was speaking I asked him a question by way of interjection, and gathered from him that the Customs Department has a method of checking bottling by which the public is safe guarded as far as possible. In the circumstances I cannot see that any great safeguard is furnished even if the whisky is bottled in bond. The hotelkeeper who wishes to deceive the public will do so, no matter what happens. I am anxious to know what the Government's real intention is. I gather from what has been said that it believes that it is protecting the public and creating more employment, and I also believe that it is anxious" to secure more revenue. But I feel that the employment argument has been exploded, and also the idea of protection of the public. Therefore, at present, it appears to be only a matter of more revenue. References have been made to other statements in the past. I know nothing about them. I take it that the Government is honest in its endeavour to do its best in the interests of the country, but when I realize that this imposition cannot provide extra employment or protect the public, it seems to me that the whole question boils down to that of getting extra revenue. If that is so we might hear something further from the Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Forde).** {: #subdebate-25-7-s16 .speaker-K6Q} ##### Mr BERNARD CORSER:
Wide Bay -- The Minister for Trade and Customs has emphasized the desire of the Government to protect the health of the community, and has argued that a label on a bottle should be a guarantee that the contents of the bottle are true to label. In some districts a man would be a simpleton if he thought that he would get his spirit true to name because the bottle is labelled. The honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** holds that the Government's desire is to secure revenue; but the Government's revenue proposals were contained in schedules which were laid on the table long before this particular impost was made known. As a matter of fact the real reason for the extra impost has not been given by the Government, or, so far, by members of the Opposition. The real reason is that one distillery was in the advantageous position of being able to sell its whisky bottled, whereas the other, not having the whisky five years old, was not in a position to bottle its product, and would, therefore, be obliged to sell at 5s. a gallon more than its competitors. {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr Forde: -- Does the honorable member know that the Corio Distillery has never sold a gallon of whisky, and was always in favour of this impost? {: .speaker-K6Q} ##### Mr BERNARD CORSER: -- It found that it could not compete with the other distillery when this unfair imposition was put on, and it was obliged to amalgamate with it in order that it might get some advantage from this particular impost, and be in a position to market whisky in Australia in the five years that are to come. The Minister knows that the 5s. excise was put on to give a particular distillery in Australia an advantage, and not to provide the public with a whisky true to label. Any one who would use an argument similar to that with which the Minister has tried to gull the committee and the country, could justly be accused of trying to deceive the public. The whisky that is now prevented from being imported by this extra 5s. a gallon was bought by the publican or wholesale merchants. To-day the combine has the advantage. The publican who sells a whisky as his house whisky assures the public that it will get what it asks for. It is a far better guarantee than can be given by customs officers away in a bond store, seeing that the whisky bottled in bond may afterwards be put into hotel cellars, and opened by any one at any time. Many of our merchants imported their own whisky, and sold it in 2-gallon, 4-gallon, or 5- gallon kegs. It was the whisky mostly consumed in. country districts, but the trade is now to be placed in the hands of the few who have the means of bottling their whisky in bond - the combines - unless of course the people who formerly bought kegs are prepared to buy bottles subject to this extra impost. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- The reputation of the hotelkeeper would depend on his putting up a good whisky. {: .speaker-K6Q} ##### Mr BERNARD CORSER: -- Absolutely. A hotelkeeper is proud of the reputation his house whisky earns for him. His custom depends to a large extent upon the reputation his whisky gains. If people want whisky in a bottle, well and good, but the imposition of this extra 5s. is not fair. It brings no increase of revenue to the Government, and its sole purpose is the one I have mentioned. It has justly deserved the ire it has aroused among the licensed victuallers of Australia. I remind the Minister that the Licensed Victuallers Association in his own State has all along protested against this imposition. I trust that the committee will not allow this favoritism to continue. It is useless for the Minister to speak about the Corio Distillery. Whatever was done in the past will not affect what is being done to-day. The Australian distilleries are all one concern to-day. This duty has not been imposed to give the public anything better than they can get without it. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- Are the overseas interests tied up with the local distilleries? {: .speaker-K6Q} ##### Mr BERNARD CORSER: -- To a certain extent they are, but the Australian shareholders have an interest in the local concern. Since the Minister has tampered with these duties there has been a slackening in the trade, excise revenue has fallen, employment has been reduced, and the public have not got what they should get. In regard to the Minister's claim that this has been done to protect the public, I remind him that quite recently provision was made to allow more water to be added to whisky, probably with the intention of enabling the public to buy more water and less whisky. The Minister's excuses are not sufficient to justify an imposition which has proved detrimental to the interests of licensed victuallers, wine and spirit merchants, and the public, and would prove detrimental to the distilleries which might wish to commence operations in Australia in the future, not in association with the existing distilleries. {: #subdebate-25-7-s17 .speaker-KMZ} ##### Mr MARTENS:
Herbert .- I am not at all satisfied with the explanation given by the Minister for Trade and Customs **(Mr. Forde)** as to the good that will be done by bottling in bond. It is just as easy to empty into a cask whisky bottled in bond as it is to do so with whisky not bottled in bond. I am convinced of the honesty of the majority of hotelkeepers, and I am aware that many hotels have built up reputations for their house whisky. Customers have passed other hotels to visit those where they know they can rely on getting a good house whisky which appeals to their palates. I believe that a great hardship was done to many people, particularly wine and spirit merchants and hotelkeepers, when this imposition was made. These people are employing just as much labour as is being employed under present conditions. I do not think that therevenue is materially affected. If it is I should like to know to what extent it is. Various arguments have been advanced against the new duty, but the most amusing was the statement by the honorable member for Warringah **(Mr. Parkhill)** that this is the only country in which it has been adopted. If the new duty had any inherent merit, the novelty of it would not be an objection. I am under the impression that no other country has a Transport Workers Act providing for the licensing of employees, but the honorable member for Warringah made no protest against that legislation on the score that it was unprecedented. Therefore, the fact that this extra duty on whisky bottled out of bond does not operate elsewhere carries no weight with me. Nevertheless, the Minister will be well advised to accept the amendment, because he can trust the inspectors employed by the State Governments to do what is necessary to protect the public. Any malpractices can be easily punished. A matter of more grave concern to both Commonwealth and State Governments is the illicit distillation of whisky. I recollect hearing of an old hotelkeeper who said that the rum he stocked was so good that if, after taking two nobblers of it, a man would not fight his own father he was a coward! I am fairly certain that that rum was not bottled in bond. Illicit stills are in operation in many parts of the Commonwealth, and I am sure that the Minister would be very glad to be able to suppress them. There is no doubt of the harmful nature of the spirit they produce. A great friend of mine was in the Townsville Hospital for a long time in a semi-paralyzed state because of alcoholic poisoning. The doctor assured me that his condition was caused, not by the spirits ordinarily sold in reputable hotels, but by the product of illicit stills. The majority of the publicans may be trusted to do rightly by the public. I give no credence to the statement that the new duty has led to a decrease of revenue. Owing to the depression people are less able to buy either whisky or beer, and I have been informed by an officer of the Customs Department that the consumption of beer in Australia this year is 8,000,000 gallons less than last year. I am certain that that would not have occurred in normal times. It is true, however, that people generally are becoming more temperate, and that change may be expected to be reflected in the quantity > of alcoholic liquors consumed and the revenue collected from customs and excise duties. No good purpose can be served by continuing the extra duty of 5s. on spirits bottled out of bond. I am certain that the quality of the liquor sold to the public will be the same whether it is bottled in or out of bond. {: #subdebate-25-7-s18 .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr E RILEY:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- This extra duty on spirits -bottled out of bond will not increase the volume of trade done by Australian or overseas distillers. Publicans have been accustomed to buy their spirits in bulk and bottle them on their own premises. On account of the depression many publicans in New South Wales are unable to pay their rent, and if they are deprived of the privilege of bottling their own requirements, they will be penalized, and no benefit will accrue to the public. The new impost will not lead to the distillation of more whisky or to the employment of more people; nor will it give greater protection to the public. Every State Government employs inspectors to police the liquor laws by periodically sampling the spirits sold in hotels. {: .speaker-K6Q} ##### Mr BERNARD CORSER:
WIDE BAY, QUEENSLAND · CP -- Even when the spirits are -bottled in bond those inspectors will still be necessary. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr E RILEY:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Of course. If the publican is required to pay an extra 5s. a gallon for bottling spirits out of bond he will pass the duty on to the public. I shall vote against the item. {: #subdebate-25-7-s19 .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · Capricornia · ALP -- I was amused by the statement of the honorable member for Henty **(Mr. Gullett)** that honorable members supporting the Government are fighting for the interests of the big whisky combine. I remind the honorable member that, in 1926, when **Mr. Pratten,** then Minister for Trade and Customs, proposed certain duties for the protection of Australian distillers, the honorable member made an impassioned protest against any increase of the duty on imported whisky and roundly condemned the Australian product. On that occasion he fought gallantly in the interests of the big whisky combine in Great Britain. Again, when the honorable member for New England **(Mr. Thompson)** made out a good case for the appointment of a select committee to inquire into the activities of the tobacco combine, the honorable member for Henty, who then occupied the position I now hold, resolutely opposed the proposal. Subsequently, the committee was appointed and made .some very helpful recommendations for restricting the operations of the combine, which the honorable member for Henty had championed. The extra duty of 5s. a gallon on spirits bottled out of bond had yielded £15,000 additional revenue up to the 30th June, 1930. That amount, although not large, is not negligible. The duty had been imposed before I assumed control of the Trade and Customs Department, hut I stand by it because I believe it to be in the interests of the consumers, although it does not go so far as the recommendation of the Health Conference in 1927, that all spirits imported in bulk should be bottled in bond under the supervision of a customs official and should be labelled "bottled in bond by so and so ". {: .speaker-JZK} ##### Mr Coleman: -- Why was not that suggestion adopted? {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- If the 5e. duty is not effective we can consider the advisability of going a step further. At any rate it is a move in the right direction. {: .speaker-K0A} ##### Mr Gabb: -- Can the Minister answer the repeated rumour that this duty was imposed to suit John Wren? {: .speaker-F4U} ##### Mr FORDE: -- Most definitely it was nOt. My predecessor, **Mr. Fenton,** first decided that the duty should be imposed. The Government knows no individuals in this matter. The duty has been imposed in the interests of the consumers. The honorable member for Wide Bay **(Mr. Corser)** said that the duty was imposed to give one distillery an unfair advantage over another. When that suggestion first came to my notice I rang up the Corio Distillery and was informed by the manager that his firm was in favour of the extra duty of 5s. imposed on whisky bottled out of bond. He said that as his firm had to adhere to the strict excise regulations requiring all its operations to be under the supervision of a customs official, the big hotelkeeper who wanted to blend cheap imported or Australian whiskies, bottle them in his own cellars and sell them at high prices, should be subject to the same restriction or pay a higher duty. That is a reasonable contention. It is clear, therefore, that the statement of the honorable member for Wide Bay is absolutely untrue. The honorable member for Henty asked how the wine and spirit merchant can import whisky and bottle it out of bond. The new duty will not prevent that. Many wine and spirit merchants have licensed bond stores, in which they can bottle their bulk whisky under customs supervision. Many people would prefer that there should be no testing of spirits. If a State with 2,000 licensed hotels has only two inspectors a particular hotel may be inspected only once in twelve months and, perhaps, not at all. A prominent official of the Licensed Victuallers Association of South Australia said that his hotel had not been visited by a health inspector once in three years. Probably, the same boast could be made by many other publicans. Those wine and spirit merchants who have not their own bond stores can open a casual bond for a fee of £30, plus a charge of 3s. 6d. an hour for the services of a customs officer. That can be done also by an hotelkeeper, but many of those in whose behalf honorable members opposite are speaking do not want customs supervision of what they put in their bottles. Fortunately, that is not true of the majority of hotelkeepers; most of them are of a very fine type, but black sheep are to be found in the trade as in every other section of the community. A wine and spirit merchant can open a half-time bond for a fee of £165 a year or a full-time bond - and there are many throughout Australia in which bottling could be done for hotelkeepers - for £325 a year. Twenty-four additional bonds have been opened since this duty went on. This provision ensures that the bottling is done, as it were, in broad daylight under official supervision. What is the position of hotelkeepers at places such as Sydney, Brisbane, Maryborough, Rockhampton, &c, as referred to by the honorable member? It is provided that where customs officers are located, hotelkeepers may have spirit bottled in bond under customs supervision at a charge of 3s. 6d. an hour, so that no hardship is inflicted. In most cities and ports there are certain bonded warehouses which specialize in storing spirits. With the provision in force that all spirits must be bottled in bond or pay an extra 5s. a gallon, the practice will grow up of these bond proprietors bottling their clients' spirits, thus obviating the need for the smaller importers to set up their own bonds. Ninety-five per cent, of the spirits sold are bottled brands, leaving only 5 per cent. bulk. To hear some honorable members opposite one would imagine that the greater part of the spirit sold in this country was disposed of in bulk. Such a contention is all moonshine, as is also the assertion that the best whisky is hulk whisky. Only too often importers get in a cheap line of bulk whisky, put it up in bottles,' and call it best house whisky, after having, perhaps, mixed it with some cheap Australian spirit. The number of hotelkeepers whose trade is sufficient to keep their own bottlers fully employed is very small, probably not more than 25 in the whole of Australia. Under this provision, work will be provided for more persons than will lose their employment. It has been shown that an additional £.15,000 has been collected by the Customs. Department as. a result of the duty. While this provision will not go all the way towards achieving that close supervision over the bottling of spirits that was proposed by the Health Conference in 1927, it will at least go part of the way. It will not inflict any hardship upon any section of the community. It has been stated by honorable members opposite that the new provision has resulted in a falling off in revenue. Any reduction in revenue has not been due entirely to this duty, or to any other. It may be partly due to such causes, but the sale of beer and spirits of all kinds has been affected by the depression in the same way as that of other articles. Every factory is suffering as a result of the depression, and the fact that certain persons who have been selling spirits are not employing as many workers as before is no argument against this duty. {: #subdebate-25-7-s20 .speaker-KXQ} ##### Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL:
Warringah -. - The real point at issue is not whether the purity of spirits shall be maintained ;. that is a matter for the States which have provided for it under State law, and have appointed special inspectors. What really concerns this committee is the amount of revenue which is to be returned by the imposition of the duties, and the Minister has side-stepped that issue throughout the whole of his two long speeches. He admits that there has been a falling off in consumption, but claims that it is due to the prevailing depression. Then why not meet thedepression by reducing the duty, since the public are evidently not prepared to buy at the price which this duty makesnecessary? In 1913, the duty on spirits was 14s. a gallon, and 2,251,000 gallons were imported. The duty was increased in successive stages to 17s., 20s., 25s... 27s. and 30s. In 1924-25 the quantity of spirits imported was 1,200,000 gallons, *a.* falling off of over- 1,000,000 gallons. This was directly due to the increasedcustoms and excise duties, and the result was a reduction in the national revenue. It is not the duty of this Parliament, when discussing the tariff, to consider the moral aspect of the matter, or whether the country would be better off under prohibition. As I have said, our concern is therevenue, and whether the duties areequitable. It has been claimed that theimposition of high customs and exciseduties have resulted in a loss of revenue,, and further, that this duty favours the big overseas distilleries at the expense of the hotelkeepers, and wine and spirit merchants, whose money has been invested in this country. The large overseas distilleries, whose shareholders, areall on the other side of the world, are not concerned with the welfare of this country to the same extent as are the thousands of hotelkeepers who are paying Australian wages to Australian workmen. The big distilleries, it is true, are paying wages to English workers. but we hereare more concerned with the protection of Australian workmen. I appeal to thecommittee to vote for the reduction of this duty in the interests of Australian workers,, and to increase the customs revenue. That, after all, is the chief consideration,, and the Minister has not answered the argument advanced- in favour of it. The Minister has notanswered the claim that a reduction of duty would result in increased revenue,, and' it is revenue we want now when we are facing a deficit of £19,000<,000. The- >Minister has also failed to answer the statement of the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr.Corser) that when this extra duty was first imposed the Corio Distillery was placed at a disadvantage as compared with another' distillery in that it could not market its whisky in bottles because it had not been matured for five years. Now that the two firms have amalgamated there is no reason why the duty should not be removed, but the Government will not remove it because it thinks that the reason for the imposition of the duty would then be too obvious. Question - That the amendment (Mr. Nairn's) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath.) AYES: 28 NOES: 27 Majority .. 1 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the affirmative. Amendment agreed to. Item also consequentially amended. By omitting the whole of sub-item (b) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item: - "(b) Whisky, including liqueur whisky - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. When not exceeding the strength of proof - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. If bottled in the Commonwealth under customs supervision subject to such conditions as to the bottling and as to the strength of the spirits as are prescribed by departmental by-laws, per gallon, British45s. ; intermediate, 47s.; general, 48s. 1. If not bottled in the Commonwealth under customs supervision, per gallon, British, 60s. ; intermediate 52s.; general, 53s. 1. When exceeding the strength of proof - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. If bottled in the Commonwealth under customs supervision subject to such conditions as to the bottling and as to the strength of the spirits as are prescribed by departmental by-laws, per proof gallon, British 45s. ; intermediate, 47s.; general, 48s. 1. If not bottled in the Commonwealth under customs supervision, per proof gallon, British, 80s. ; intermediate, 52s., general, 53s. {: #subdebate-25-7-s21 .speaker-KFA} ##### Mr R GREEN:
RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP .- I move - >That the item be further amended by adding to sub-item b the following: - "And on and after the 13th May, 1931, {: type="a" start="b"} 0. Whisky, including Liqueur Whisky - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. ) When not exceeding the strength of proof - Whether or not bottled in the Commonwealth under customs supervision subject to such conditions as to the bottling and as to the strength of the spirits us are prescribed by departmental bylaws, per gallon, British, 33s.; intermediate, 47s.; general, 48s. {: type="1" start="1"} 0. 2 ) When exceeding the strength of proof - Whether or not bottled in the Commonwealth under customs supervision subject to such conditions as to the bottling and as to the strength of the spirits as arc prescribed by departmental by-laws, per proof gallon, British, 33s.; intermediate, 47s.; general, 48s. Honorable members will notice that I have reverted to the originalwording of the Customs Tariff 1921-28. During the general debate much irrelevant matter was introduced in the discussion on bottled spirits. I was sorry to hear the Minister say that be could not agree to a reduction in the duties, giving as a reason his belief that the schedule would produce a greater amount of revenue than would be obtained if the duties wore lowered by 12s. per gallon proof. An examination of the figures does not bear out the Minister's statement. All the items in this division may be regarded as luxury items. This is particularly true of the one under discussion. The moral effect on the community resulting from the consumption of alcoholic beverages does not enter into this discussion. Nondrinkers will not contribute to the revenue under these items. Figures supplied recently by the Minister show that there has been a serious and progressive decline in the consumption of imported and Australian whiskies during the last few years. The lessened spending power of the community is, to some extent responsible, but a much more important factor is the exceedingly high rate of duty imposed upon these items. It is a wellknown economic fact that unduly high taxation will defeat its objective, namely to secure revenue. No one can doubt that the High rates on these items is largely responsible for the serious loss of revenue to the Government. The Ministry would be well advised torecast these duties with a view to securing the maximum amount of revenue. {: .speaker-KX9} ##### Mr Watkins: -- Does the honorable member propose to deal with the excise items also? Mr.R. GREEN.- Yes. I take the following extract from a pamphlet entitled, " The Case for Australian Whisky " : - >During times of prosperity, such as we have experienced in the years gone by, it may have been reasonable to expect that there would not be a serious decline in consumption. However, a comparison of the total whisky clearances (imported and Australian) in the > >Commonwealth for the last financial year ended 30th June, 1930, with those for the year ended 30th June, 1914, discloses a drop in consumption of more than 1,000,000 proof gallons or practically half the pre-war consumption. Because of a still further reduction in the spending power of the community, the curve indicating the decline in consumption has been much sharper during the last twelve months. Nevertheless it cannot bo contended that the lessened spending power of the community for the financial year ended 30th June, 1930, as compared with 1914 explains fully the drop in consumption by practically onehalf. For the real reason we must look elsewhere and, as I have already stated, the high rate of duties must be regarded as an important contributing factor. Imports have declined from 1,349,086 proof gallons five years ago to 946,523 proof gallons for the nine months ended 31st March this year. The average yearly drop is approximately one-third. I ask leave to continue my remarks. Leave granted; progress reported. House adjourned at 9.59 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 May 1931, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.