10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– (By leave.) - Honorable senators will remember that during the course of the debate on the second reading of the Oil AgreementBill, statements were made regarding certain activities of the British Imperial Oil Company Limited. The company has addressed to the Prime Minister a communication setting out further facts, and asking that the information be brought to the notice of hon orable senators. A copy of the company’s communication is accordingly laid on the table of the Senate.
The following paperswere presented : -
Northern Territory - Report of Administrator for the year ended 30th June, 1925.
Ordered to be printed.
British Imperial Oil Company Ltd. - Letter from the company Betting out further facts with regard to certain activities of the company.
Federal Capital - Report of the federal Capital Commission to the Minister for Home and Territories for the quarter ended 3 1st March, 1926.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1926, No. 63.
Northern Territory - Ordinances of 1926 - No, 11 - Encouragement of Mining. No. 12- Real Property.
War Service Homes Act - Memorandum of an arrangement between the War Service Homes Commissioner and the Government of the State of Western Australia relating to the purchase of land, erection of dwellinghouses, &c, in that State.
Payment to the Government.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. Thesum of £38,000 has been received from Sir Sydney Kidman’s solicitors.
– (By leave) - I move -
That the order of reference to the Joint Committee on electoral law and procedure, agreed to by the Senate on 4th March, 1926, be extended to include the folowing matters : -
The joint select committee in the pursuit of its investigation finds that it is not able to inquire into matters relating to informal voting, absent voting, joint rolls, or the administration of the compulsory sections of the act, although they are pertinent to the other matters referred to it. It is, therefore, desirable that its functions should be extended to enable it to do so..
– Will this extension of powers necessitate the committee going over the work it has already donein the various States? I think there should be a limit to this investigation. I do not think we should involve the Commonwealth in any unnecessary expense. Cannot many of the matters investigated be inquired into in Melbourne ?
– Yes; but the carrying of this motion will not necessitate the committee going over work it has already done.
SenatorNEEDHAM (Western Australia) [3.8]. - When the select committee was appointed I realized that its scope was not sufficiently large. The subjects listed for investigation seemed to me to be too limited if the committee was to be expected to furnish an effective report. In these circumstances I see no objection to the proposal to extend its functions in the direction desired. It should entail no additional expense, nor require the committee to traverse ground already covered.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs yet obtained the return asked for by the Senate showing the amount of duties refunded to public and semi-public bodies during the past three years? If so, will he make it available for the information of honorable senators in connexion with the tariff debate?
– The return asked for by the honorable senator will take some time to prepare. The department is now in touch with the various State representatives of the Customs Department. When the information is compiled, it will be made available to honorable senators without delay.
In committee (Consideration resumed from 28th May, vide page 2439) :
Item 3 -
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (b) (1), per gallon, British 30s.
Under this item, it is proposed to increase the duty on imported whisky by 5s. a gallon, a proposal which all intelligent people regard as entirely unjustified. I suggest that this question be added to those to be submitted to a referendum of the people. Failing that, I should like to see a secret ballot taken.
– Of honorable senators?
– Yes. I feel confident that if a secret ballot of honorable senators were taken there would be an overwhelming majority against the Government’s proposals. I know of nothing which is likely to arouse more public indignation than an increased duty on whisky.
– It might lead to a riot.
– When the people of America obtained their independence, they believed that they had secured the right to manufacture whisky locally for their own requirements; but in 1794 the Government took prompt action to squelch the rebellion that had broken out in Pennsylvania because of the duties which had been imposed. From time immemorial, there has been a desire on the part of reactionary governments to increase the duty on whisky; but it has remained for this Government - the most reactionary the country has known - to propose the extortionate duty of 35s. a gallon.
– The excise duty in Great Britain is 72s. a gallon.
– We are not now dealing with excise duties; but I can inform the Minister of my intention, when they come before us, to request the House of Representatives to remove entirely the excise duty on whisky manufactured in Australia. It has been suggested that if the present restrictions on the sale of intoxicating liquor in the Federal Capital territory are removed, Australian whisky only shall be sold there. That may or may not be a good idea. Even in biblical times, the manufacture of strong drink, especially whisky, was regarded as a fashionable occupation. In Great
Britain, and particularly in Scotland, the manufacture of whisky has reached a high degree of excellence. I am not aware of the exact formula used by Scotch whisky manufacturers’; but I do know that the product of the Scotch distilleries is to be found throughout the world. These increased duties will have the effect of reducing the quantity of Scotch whisky consumed in Australia. Some people would regard that as desirable. I am not greatly concerned, personally; but Irealize, from the large quantity of whisky consumed in the Commonwealth, that this is a matter of considerable importance to . many in the community, who, if they had a voice in deciding this question, would not only reduce the duty to 30s. a gallon, but would abolish it entirely. I have suggested a reduction to 30s. only because I know it would be futile to go further. I cannot imagine anything so ridiculous as to tax a product of this kind. Such a tax is opposed to the best interests of the consumer of whisky. In Scotland, where the manufacture of whisky has been a national industry for many centuries, whisky is characterized, in the classical language of the Gael, as “ uisgebeatha,” meaning “water of life.”
– Does the honorable senator drink Australian whisky?
– I can drink any kind of whisky. I do not know why a commodity which is so appreciated by many of our people should be taxed to this extent. The duty is unreasonable, and I therefore oppose it. I understand that, during the five or six months that the increased duties have operated, there has been a loss of revenue on imported whisky to the extent of about £80,000. I realize that there may be other reasons for that reduction of revenue. I am entirely opposed to the increased duty, and when we are dealing with the excise tariff, I shall move for the deletion of the excise on Australian whisky. We may then be able to buy a bottle of it for about 3s.
Senator Sir HENRY BAR WELL (South Australia) [3.21]. - I think we are entitled to have from the Minister the reasons which, in the opinion of the Government, justify this increase in duty. Honorable senators should not be required to debate the item in the dark. The Government has said that an increase in the duty is necessary. For what purpose? Is it for revenue, or for the protection of the Australian industry ?
– The purpose of the proposed increase in duty on imported whisky is to protect those engaged in the manufacture of whisky in Australia. There are four distilleries in the Commonwealth. When this bill was introduced in another place, three had closed down, whilst the fourth was working only quarter time. Since the imposition of the duty, all the distilleries have recommenced operations, and are now employing over .100 men. They utilize Australian barley to the extent of a bushel for every 2 gallons of whisky produced, so it cannot be said that this increase is another burden on our primary producers. It is not proposed for the purpose of increasing the Customs revenue. It is considered that, since there is a demand for whisky, its production in Australia should be encouraged under conditions that will ensure the manufacture of pure spirit. Distillation is carried on under the strict supervision of excise officers. The product then has to be matured in the wood for two years.
– Did not the Minister mean that the spirit has .to be matured in the wood for five years?
– -No ; it has to be matured in the wood for two years. Supervision is not possible in the case of imported spirits, and there is reason to believe that a considerable quantity of the imported whisky, which is sold under a Scotch label, is not what it is represented to be, viz., a pot-still whisky, the product of barley.
– It is claimed to be a patent, not a pot-still whisky.
– A good deal of it is blended spirit. Some of it is made from grain, but a considerable proportion is made from other products.
– The British excise regulations do not allow that.
-They do allow it; but. not, I understand, in the case of whisky intended for consumption in Great. Britain.
– They do not allow it, either, in the case of whisky for export.
– They do. It may be exported in bulk if it is accompanied with a certificate of description. It is then bottled in Australia and sold as something else.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL (South Australia) [3.25] -When I suggested just now that the Minister should state the case for the proposed, increase in duty, I certainly thought wc might get from him some information to justify the imposition of the duty. I do not think, and I believe the committee will agree with me, that the Minister has said anything to vindicate the action of the Government. He has told us that tho duty is not for revenue purposes, but to encourage the development of the industry in Australia. I know very well that the policy of the Government is to give sane and reasonable protection to efficient Australian industries. I am not going to say that whisky making in Australia is not an efficient industry. It has been established as an Australian enterprise, and, as such, is entitled to reasonable protection. But the point I wish to put is that the industry has ample protection at the present time. The Australian whisky is placed upon the market at 76s. a case, as compared with 100s. to 114s. a case for imported whisky. At per gallon the Australian product realizes 9s. to lis., as against 27s. for the imported article; and at per bottle, 7s. 6d. and less, compared with 10s. 6d. upwards for the best known imported brands. In most places it is sold by the nobbier, at, I think, 6d.. against 9d. and lOd. for the imported whisky in Victoria, and I think, ls. in Western Australia.
– How much is it in Queensland ?
– I am informed that in Queensland a nobbier of Australian whisky costs 6d., and imported is ls. Surely that is adequate protection. I have been looking through the report of the Tariff Board and I find that that body states that the imported brands are better known than the Australian whisky. That all depends upon what is meant by being better known. I should say that the imported whisky is more favorably known. Everybody who drinks whisky knows that Australian whisky is sold at 3d. and 4d. a nobbier less than imported whisky. Most whisky drinkers, I suppose, have sampled the Australian product. I have on more than one occasion, and all I can say is that the heaviest protection possible will not make me drink it if I can get Scotch whisky. Senator Reid. - The honorable senator’s taste must be demoralized.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Not at all. I think I can claim to be a judge of good whisky. Most whisky drinkers will agree with me that the Australian product cannot be compared with the best Scotch whisky. The Tariff Board also states that there is an unwarranted prejudice against Australian whisky. I do not think for a moment that there is, but it is not the same article as the Scotch whisky. I am referring to the taste. There is a general smile on the face of honorable senators, some of whom know nothing whatever concerning the subject, because they do not drink whisky.
– Hear, hear!
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.The honorable senator is not qualified to speak upon this subject.
– I am listening to the honorable senator’s words of wisdom.
– I trust the words of wisdom will have some weight with honorable senators who know nothing whatever about the subject. I notice in the returns to hand that from the beginning of September to December, 1925, when the higher duties were in force, importations of whisky fell off to the extent of 101,000 gallons. During the same period the production of Australian whisky was increased by 26,000 gallons, and the total consumption decreased by 75,000 gallons. I can understand Senator Thomas saying that that is very desirable, but the reduced consumption does not mean that people who have ceased drinking whisky have become teetotallers. They are probably drinking something else that is not as pure as whisky. On medical advice, I consume whisky to the exclusion of any other alcoholic liquor.
– Perhaps the people are drinking more Australian wine.
– I do not think a whisky drinker would substitute wine, excepting perhaps at meal times. The increased duty is penalizing consumers.
– In two ways.
– The honorable senator is quite right. It is said that 90 per cent. of the Australian whisky is sold in bulk, and that 95 per cent. of imported whisky is bottled and cased in Australia, which means that this work provides employment for a large number of persons. Employment is given to those engaged in the manufacture of bottles, cases, cardboard packing, and straw envelopes, in addition to those actually employed in bottling. So far as I can see, the intention of the Government is to prohibit the importation of whisky, if that were possible, simply by making the price prohibitive. The extra duty is not required to encourage local production or for protection purposes. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) stated in another place that 500,000 bushels of barley were required this year in connexion with the manufacture of Australian whisky. Any one who knows anything at all about the subject will realize the absurdity of such a statement. From 1 bushel of barley 2½ gallons of proof spirit is distilled, so that from 500,000 bushels of barley 1,250,000 gallons of proof spirit could be distilled, which is equal to the total consumption of whisky in Australia. The returns show that the quantity of Australian whisky taken from bond last year totalled 127,000 gallons, which would absorb only 60,000 bushels of barley - a mere bagatelle as compared with the total output of Australian barley. If the Australian industry should be further encouraged it would be preferable to reduce the excise rather than increase the Customs duty as is proposed. Every case that comes before us for increased duties should be based upon a just principle. No case whatever has been made out by the Minister to justify the increase, and, before we can be expected to support any increase, the Minister will have to prove that it is necessary.
– Does not that apply to every item?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Not by any means. I am in favour of reasonable protection, and I believe that in the schedule there are instances where the increased duties are reasonable. In this instance the additional duties are not required for revenue purposes, and are certainly unnecessary to protect the industry. I asked the Minister to state the case for the Government on this item, as I was in the dark as to the reason actuating it in submitting such a proposal, but his statement shows that additional duties are not required for the protection of the Australian industry. Even if three distilleries were closed, and a fourth was working only quarter time, before the rates were raised the Australian whisky producers had a margin of from 24s. up to nearly 40s. a case and from 3d. to 4d. a nobbier to work upon.
– The present protection amounts to only 4s. a gallon, whereas Australian wine is protected to the extent of 12s. to 15s. a gallon.
– Surely that is no argument. The question is whether this industry needs increased protection. I maintain it does not, since it has a fairly wide margin on which to operate. It cannot be said that they cannot compete because the protection is insufficient.
– Evidently it was not profitable to sell at the price mentioned.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.They could increase the price by 10s. to 12s. a case, or anything up to 20s. a case, or by 2d. per nobbier, and still be able to undersell the imported article. I do not intend to vote in the dark for increases of this nature. If the Government can show that any of these additional duties are necessary to provide reasonable protection to any established industry, it will have my support. I trust honorable senators will stand up to the principles which they enunciated on the second reading of the bill, and decline to support higher duties which cannot be justified.
– It has been stated that the discussion on this item in another place was a spirited one, which was not due to the fact that the item was whisky, but because it was the first in the schedule. The consumption of whisky is greater than that of any other spirit. Certain honorable senators may say that there is far too heavy a consumption; and some, if they had the power, would absolutely prohibit the manufacture and consumption of all kinds of whisky, whether
Scotch, Irish, Canadian Club, or Australian. This afternoon we are not called upon to deal with that aspect of the liquor question ; but I, as a protectionist, must assist the Government to pass those duties that are essentially of a protective character. It rather surprised me to hear Senator Barwell, who is an Australian by birth, say that the Australian whisky is not equal to the imported article.
– I did not say that. What I said was that the Australian whisky did not suit my taste.
– The honorable senator inferred that we should judge whisky by its taste and not by its quality.
– Would not the honorable senator do that?
– No. The test of quality is the purity of the ingredients, not the taste of the article. The honorable senator’s arguments reminded me of the pioneers in the co-operative movement, who, possessing limited capital but a high ambition, put forth superhuman efforts to place upon the market commodities that were free from adulteration.
– A commodity must be palatable.
– Because the people were accustomed to partaking of unwholesome commodities, it took years of effort on the part of the pioneers in that movement to educate them to the virtues of pure and wholesome foods.
– The public is the best judge, and it says that the Scotch whisky is the best.
– For the moment we are not concerned with the views of the public in regard to this duty. We must act irrespective of any opinion that may be expressed outside regarding the quality of any commodity, and we must encourage in every possible way the establishment of industries in Australia. In 1914 the duty on whisky was 14s., and the excise 10s., the preference amounting to 28 per cent. In 1921 the duty was 30s., the excise 26s., and the preference 13 per cent. Although in the latter year the difference between the excise and the import duty was the same as in 1914, the percentage preference was reduced by 15 per cent.; 4s. on 14s. as against 4s. on 30s. Senator Barwell has appealed to members of the committee to act consistently with their attitude in relation to protectionist duties. He represents a State that is extensively engaged in viticulture, and he has never in this chamber raised his voice against the higher duties on wines. There is a duty on wine of 12s. 6d. a gallon in bulk, and 15s. a gallon in bottle. Senator Barwell argued that because the Australian whisky is cheaper than the imported, there is no necessity to increase the duty. If that were so, it would apply also to wine. Is not Australian champagne sold for less than the imported? AH governments, whether they be protectionist, freetrade, or revenue tariff in their views, are prone to take the line of least resistance and to tax luxuries. Great Britain is not a protectionist country, yet its duty on whisky is £3 12s. 6d. a gallon, £1 17s. 6d. a gallon greater than is imposed in Australia.
– Is not the British duty imposed purely for the purpose of raising revenue ?
– It is ; but that is by the way.
– lt is not by the way.
– The duty is imposed in Australia allegedly for the purpose of granting protection to the Australian industry.
– Although the British duty is imposed mainly with the object of raising revenue, it is considerably greater than that .which we impose for the purpose of granting protection to an Australian industry. The present increase of 5s. a gallon ou proof whisky represents only an additional halfpenny per nobbier on that whisky when reduced to selling strength; but either the importers alone, or in conjunction with the retailers, have increased the price to the consumer by Id. a nobbier, and in some cases by a greater amount. There has not, however, been any increase in the price of Australian whisky.
– Why do the Australian manufacturers want the extra duty ?
– Australian manufacturers have always experienced considerable difficulty in obtaining a foothold in their own market, on account of the prejudice against local manufactures. Despite the light-hearted manner in which some honorable senators treat the matter, that prejudice is real, not imaginary. Prior to the war there was in certain quarters a prejudice against Australian beer, and it was not uncommon to hear some Australians, who ought to have known better, say that the English, the German, and the American beers were very much better than the Australian.
– The honorable senator knows that since the war the lighter beers have improved very much.
– I admit that. The same remarks apply to wines. At one time there was a strong prejudice against Australian wines, but it has almost disappeared because of the encouragement given to the local producers of wines. It is admitted by those who are competent to express an opinion that Australian whisky is the purest, a-nd probably the best on the market. At the same time, there is still room for improvement, just as there is in regard to other commodities included in the schedule to the bill. It is claimed that as a result of the imposition of the increased duty on whisky, there has been a decrease in the revenue. That may or may not be correct ; but even if it be correct it does not influence me in the slightest, because I do not believe in getting revenue through the Customs House merely to avoid direct taxation. On the other hand, if it has led to a falling off in the importation of certain brands of whisky, it probably means an increase in the consumption of locally-distilled whisky. The purpose of these duties being to give encouragement to Australian industries, our object is thus being attained. We have an industry producing the best whisky in the market under the most rigid regulations in the world, and under the best labour conditions in the world. It affords employment to a large number of people.
– To how many ?
– Probably ten times as many as were employed in it a few years ago. It gives encouragement to people engaged in bottle-making. It. gives a stimulus to the producers of barley, and in a small way encourages the printing business. I venture to say that all the printed matter required by those engaged in the industry in Australia is produced by Australian workmen. When I am on a railway station I am attracted by very catchy posters beautifully printed, but I am not unmindful of the fact that some of these posters are not printed in Australia.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
.- Because of the unusual circumstances surrounding the proposal to increase the duties on whisky, I, like Senator Barwell, expected from the Minister (Senator Crawford) a fuller explanation of the reasons actuating the Government in submitting this proposal. A duty is generally placed on a commodity to protect a struggling industry from unfair competition from abroad; but here we .are faced with a proposal to impose an additional duty of 5s. a gallon on imported whisky when the Australian distillery is selling its output at a price which is about 25 per cent, lower than that of the imported article. Senator Findley gets a good deal of pleasure from the fact that the decrease in the amount of revenue derived from the duties paid on whisky means a falling off in the importation of whisky. Let me remind the honorable senator that since the duty has been increased the revenue derived from the consumption of locally-distilled whisky has also decreased. Therefore, if the objective of the Government in placing this extra impost on imported whisky was either to protect a local industry or to raise additional revenue, it has not been achieved. The Minister (Senator Crawford) unintentionally I believe, misled the committee when he said that four Australian distilleries had been forced to close down. I do not think that such is the case. I have taken the trouble to obtain from the Registrar-General of Victoria a copy of the share register of the existing distillery company.
– Is there only one company?
– There is only one company operating now. It is the Federal Distilleries Proprietary Limited. It has a nominal share capital of 750,000 shares of £1 each. The total number of shares taken up is 565,000. No shares have been issued wholly for cash. The number issued as fully paid up, otherwise than for cash, is 565,000. I presume that they were issued by the company to existing concerns. The total amount of debts due by the company in respect of all mortgages and charges, which are required to be registered with the Registrar-General, is £80,000. These were probably taken over from the other companies.
– Has there been an amalgamation?
– Yos. The consideration for which these shares have been allotted is set out in an agreement between the Federal Distillery Company of the first part, the Australian Distillery Company of the second part, Brind’s on the third part, Breheny and Kennar’s Brewery of the fourth part, and the Federal Distilleries Proprietary Limited of the fifth part. The share capital is made up as follows: - Federal Distillery Company, £270,146; Australian Distillery Company, £194,469 13s. 2d.; ‘Brind’s, £131,456 17s. 6d. ; Breheny and Kennar’s £37,418 9s. lOd. Thus we see that three other companies have been absorbed by the Federal Distillery Company. There is only one concern now operating in Australia, and we are asked to give it a monopoly of the distillation business by imposing an extra impost of 5s. per gallon on imported whisky.
– There are four distilleries operating at the present time.
– What are their names?
– The Australian Distillery, Brind’s, Breheny and Ken.nar’s, and the Federal Distillery.
– They have all been absorbed by one company.
– That may be so, but there are four distilleries, just as there are many jam factories operating in Australia, although nearly every factory has been absorbed by Henry Jones and Company.
– The Minister is disputing a document supplied by the Victorian Registrar-General, showing that there is only one distillery company operating.
– I said that four distilleries were closed down. Does the honorable senator dispute that statement ?
– I shall read The share list of the Federal Distilleries Proprietary Limited. There are a few private individuals in the list. John Wren, of 15 Studley Park-road. Kew, holds’ 102,847 ‘ shares. Patrick F. Cody and Matthew J. Cody, merchants, of Flinders-lane, hold 102,846 shares.
Patrick F. Cody also holds one share separately. Frank A. Leith, of 20 Staniland-avenue, Malvern, holds 64,452 shares. F. E. Thoneniann, of 395 Collinsstreet, Melbourne; C. L. Brind, of 5 Camp-street, Ballarat, and J. P. Breheny, of Dent-street, Abbotsford, described as a brewer, each hold one share. The balance of the 565,000 fully-paid-up shares is hold by the Australian Distillery Company, Melbourne, 162,824 shares; Brind’s Proprietary Limited, 110,023 shares; and Breheny Brothers and Kennar’s Brewery Proprietary Limited, Melbourne, 22,004 shares.
– Is not the position exactly the same in Scotland? Are not all the companies there in one combine?
– I am not troubling about the position in Scotland. Practically all the shares in the Federal Distilleries Proprietary Limited are held by companies that were formerly running the business.
– They have amalgamated their business. That is all they have done.
– Yes; but there is only one distillery company operating in Australia to-day.
– No, there are four distilleries operating.
– Senator Barwell has already pointed out the advantage in price enjoyed by the local producer of whisky. I have with me an interesting little table giving the retail prices in the various States, and showing that the price of the local whisky is considerably below that of the imported whisky. The prices per nobbier charged! in the various States are as follow : -
– The prices in Queensland have risen to 8d. and1s. respectively.
– Passing by one of the leading hotels in Melbourne this morning, I noticed a window filled with Old Court whisky. The price at which it was offered for sal© was7s. 6d. for the full bottle, and 3s. 9d. for the half bottle. That hotel would charge 12s. 6d. for a full-size bottle of imported whisky. I can see no justification for this increased duty. No case has been put up for it. Even the comments of the Tariff Board, in recommending the increase, show that there is no need for the extra duty. The board reported as follows: -
The provisions of the excise tariff relating to the manufacture of whisky were framed for the purpose of compelling the Australian distiller to place a pure and wholesome article before the public,
I am not saying that the article is not wholesome and pure - and yet while these restrictions apply to the local producer, cheap blended, i.e., Scotch and foreign spirits, can be imported and sold at prices with which it is impossible to compete.
That is not a fact. No imported whisky is sold at the same price as Australian whisky.
– It may be sold at the same price to the retailer.
– I am speaking of the price charged to the consumer, who is the person that matters. The Tariff Board also said -
Operating under these stringent conditions, the local distillers are finding it difficult to maintain their existence.
Why do they not increase the price of their commodity ? During the war period they had the field to themselves. The brandy distillers took advantage of that opportunity to obtain the market, and they have held it ever since. They are, however, fleecing the public, because every increase of duty under the tariff means an increase in the price of brandy. That the whisky distillers could not hold the market which they obtained during the war period was due, not to any inferiority in the quality of their product, but to the fact that the public had acquired a taste for imported whisky. Teetotallers in this chamber have no right to say that those who drink whisky must drink Australian whisky. Personally, I do not care much whether any whisky is available for consumption in Australia.
– If honorable senators have no right to say that only Australian whisky should be consumed, what right has the honorable senator to say that we’ should only wear boots made in Australia ?
– I never said that. I hope, however, that all honorable senators wear Australian-made boots. The argument which applies to boots does not apply to whisky. We have no right to force Australian whisky drinkers to consume a spirit which they do not like. The effect of these duties will be to increase the price of Australian whisky and the dividends paid to shareholders in Australian distilleries.
– It is only natural that the commodity which forms the subject of this discussion, and which on many occasions has provided exhilaration outside Parliament, should, on the present occasion, exhibit its outstanding characteristics. There is certainly a lot oflife in this debate, and properly so. Nevertheless, the subject should be approached rationally. On this occasion I do not profess to cast my vote logically. I have assured the Minister that I intend to use all the vigour at my command to make his task in connexion with this tariff the most gigantic failure ever seen in this chamber ; but I intend to vote for an increased duty on whisky. Because the public interests are many sided, one cannot be logical in dealing with a tariff schedule. One is compelled to adopt different attitudes from time to time. I remind honorable senators that a present-day writer has truly said that, if he were asked to prove that the square to the hypothenuse of a right angle triangle was equal to the square of the other two sides, he might be unable to do so. I am in a similar position. I am asked to vote for this increased duty, and I intend to do so, because I agree that this industry has not been accorded sufficient protection in the past. To the question whether the production of whisky is an Australian industry, the answer must be in the affirmative. But a negative answer must be given to the question whether it has been sufficiently protected.
– It has been granted adequate protection.
– I submit that it has not been sufficiently protected. It has not been protected to the extent that other industries have been protected. Figures supplied by the Customs Department show that, for the year 1924-25, 57,405 gallons of whisky in bottles were imported into Australia., the value in bond being £76,000. Whisky imported in hulk for the same period amounted to 1,200,300 gallons, the value being £1,443,610. Thus, we had 1,257,705 gallons of whisky imported into Australia during that year, the value being £1,519,610. Those figures represent an average of 24s. a gallon, that being the value of the whisky before the imposition of the duty. The Minister said that, hitherto, the only protection afforded to Australian manufacturers of whisky was the difference between the excise and the import duties - a difference of 4s. a gallon. In other words, this Australian industry has been protected to the extent of about 17 per cent. only.It is now proposed to increase the duty by a further 5s. a gallon. The effect will be to raise the protection to about 37 per cent. Other industries are protected to the extent of 40 per cent., 45 per cent., or even 60 per cent., and in their case no supervision is exercised. What is the objection, therefore, to increasing the duty on this commodity to 37 per cent. ? The Government says that whisky must be produced, not in. a slovenly manner, as are boots and shoes, but strictly in accordance with certain regulations which are prescribed in order to ensure a wholesome article for consumption by the people. There is more warrant for a duty of 37 per cent. in the case of whisky than for the duties which are imposed on some other items. I admit that, if other industries were subjected to the same strict supervision as is the whisky industry, and if they sold the articles they produced at a price which is as reasonable as the price charged for Australian whisky, many of my arguments against the tariff would disappear. Australian whisky costs 7d. a nobbier, as against l0d. a nobbier for Scotch whisky. In Western Australia, Scotch whisky is 1s. a nobbler. Although the quality of Australian whisky is unquestioned, there is a prejudice against it. It is a matter of taste. Senator Graham will bear me out that when we landed on the Western Australian goldfields we were forced to drink condensed water, and that the taste was such that at times we spat it out. In time, we got used to it, for the sufficient reason that there was nothing else for us to drink. Taste is a matter of habit. A man can be induced to alter his taste, especially when to do so suits his pocket.
– Whether it is good for his health or not ?
– The honorable senator’s interjection raises the question of the quality of Australian whisky. I ask him whether it is unwholesome or unfit for Australian people to consume?
– The people think that it is unpalatable.
– Proof of the relative merits of imported and Australian whisky comes from a most unexpected source. It has been said during this debate that Australian whisky has been sold as Scotch whisky.Were Australian whisky of inferior quality it could not be passed off as Scotch. Those who favour imported whisky have testified to the quality of Australian whisky; they have acclaimed it as being at least equal to Scotch whisky.
– No one said that it was not good.
– How does Australian whisky compare with Irish whisky?
– Only those things the quality of which it is desired to improve are blended. Irish whisky can not be improved, and therefore it is not blended. Australians naturally have a prejudice against wine. I have some figures here to show that the consumption of wine in Australia has declined. Sociologists may rejoice in the knowledge that Australia is becoming more sober. According to the Commonwealth Year-Booh the consumption of spirits in Australia for the year 1907 was 0.8 gallons per head of the population. In 1923-24 it was 0.4 gallons per head. Evidently the Australian still likes his glass of beer, because the consumption of beer has not decreased since 1907. In 1907, 11.07 gallons were consumed per head of population, and, in 1923-24, 11.08 gallons. Although that aspect of the question should not enter into this discussion, I suggest that it is not wise to drink intoxicating liquor to the extent that we have consumed it in the past. I support the increased duties for the reason that they will mean increased revenue. Whisky is not a necessity. A man can do without whisky, whereas he cannot do without a hat or a pair of boots. If this duty is likely to establish a profit^ able Australian industry, I shall be prepared to support it. but as far as other items are concerned, I shall not be so friendly towards the Ministry as I am in respect of this item.
– In dealing with this item, we have in the Senate two small sections to whom my sympathies go out. The first comprises the teetotallers, represented by SenatorReid, Senator Thomas and, possibly Senator Hoare, who find themselves in the difficult position of having either to vote on an item affecting an industry to which they are opposed on principle, or to abstain from voting at all.
– Not at all; they can express their opinion upon it.
– They can express an opinion, but they would probably, be better advised to vote for the old duty, because unquestionably an increased consumption of the more unpalatable and cheaper whisky will have the effect of increasing drunkenness. That, of course, would be anathema to them. Therefore they should vote with those of us who support the requested reduction.
– How will the honorable senator vote ?
– I do not think Senator Payne need ask me that question; I am in favour of the old duty. The other section of the Senate to which I refer comprises those Labour members who, because they are under the whip, are bound to vote for this high protection, and possibly, as soon as the item has been decided, will rush up to the refreshment room and order a Scotch whisky.
– I object to the honorable senator stating that We are under the whip. We are not under the whip at all.
– The remark is not unparliamentary.
– But it is not fair.
– I may not be thoroughly conversant with parliamentary procedure, but I am sure that if I transgress the Standing Orders, I shall be. called to order by the Chairman. Senator Lynch has urged that this duty will be revenueproducing. On very good authority I understand that if the item is agreed to as it stands, there will be a considerable decrease in revenue derived from importations of whisky. Again it is said that inasmuch as Australian whisky is sold as Scotch in many hotels, the presumption is that it is as good and as palatable as Scotch whisky. I am not saying anything concerning the basic production of Australian whisky. It is produced under the supervision of Excise officers, and consequently should be a pure spirit, but with whisky, as with many other things, it is a question of palate, and, obviously, Australian whisky is not as palatable as Scotch whisky, otherwise it would not be sold at a lower price. All whisky drinkers know that although they may call for a Scotch whisky, they do not always get the standard Scotch product. They may know that the whisky with which they are served is not that for which they asked, but few men care to challenge it at the time.
– They cannot very well give it back.
– The public demand is, after all, the real test, and the taste of the public is such that it will continue to drink imported whisky, and will pay the higher duty if the requested amendment is not made. Very many people prefer Scotch whisky, and will pay the higher price for it. And why should not Scotland be pre-eminent in the production of whisky ?
Senator Crawford. Why should it be?
– Because it is distilled with water drawn from peat wells. The whisky that I am in the habit of drinking is Clynelish, the best of all the classic whiskies of Scotland. It is distilled at North Brora, in Sutherlandshire, with water drawn from the peat-wells that have been there for centuries. The same may be said of other distilleries throughout Scotland and Ireland. This is the reason why nearly all Scotch whiskies are pre-eminent in the world to-day. Several assaults have been made on thom by distilleries in other countries, but still, Scotch whisky holds its own. In South Africa an old Polish Jew named Sammy Marks got a concession from the late President Kruger, and established the Earste Fabriken distillery. Senator Cox, Senator Glasgow, and many others who took part in the South African war will remember the product of that distillery. . Marks brought over a fine distiller from Scotland, imported a quantity of matured Scotch whisky, and produced a very palatable beverage, which he described as a sixyears’ old whisky. When the British army entered Pretoria the supply of sixyearold whisky was exhausted in a few days, and the product then available was aptly described as a six-day whiskey, because it was just as crude as any immature whisky could be. Canada and the United States have also been endeavouring to produce a good whisky, but still the Scottish and Irish product* retain their position of pre-eminence. The Tariff Board’s report on this item, instead of being a recommendation, is really an argument for honorable senators to vote against the duty. If the increased duty is agreed to, it will have the effect of penalizing the moderate drinkers who prefer, and will have, Scotch whisky. And in the case of the immoderate drinker, the inability to get a good whisky at a reasonable price will probably make him a greater drunkard than he is at present. I think, therefore, that in all the circumstances, the teetotallers in the Senate should cast their vote in favour of a reversion to the old duty.
.- I have listened very carefully to the debate. If the. Minister’s case for the increased duty is unconvincing, as one honorable senator alleged, I think if can be said that no case at all has been made by those who are opposed to the Government’s proposal. Senator Ogden urged that because local distilleries have not taken advantage of their position to increase the price of the Australian article, they are not deserving of further tariff protection, but time after time the local distillers have given an undertaking not to increase prices if they get the additional protection asked for.
– Did they make that a6 a condition in respect of this item?
– I do not know, but I believe that there was an understanding that there would be no increase in prices.
– Look at the margin they have already. Is not that sufficient protection?
– Prior to the war a nobbier of whisk)’ cost 6d. or 7d. The margin between the excise and the Customs duty was far greater than it is today. Following the outbreak of war, the Government deemed it necessary to raise additional revenue, and therefore increased the excise duty. The Commonwealth distilleries would be satisfied with the pre-war margin instead of increasing the duty on imported whisky, but for revenue purposes the Government declines to do this.
– Is this duty for protective or revenue purposes?
– The item is protective, but the excise duty is undoubtedly a revenue-producing proposal, since an increase in the production of Australian whisky will mean more revenue.
– The Minister stated that it was a protective tariff.
– I have just said that the Customs duty on whisky is a protective measure, but the excise duty is in a different category. It is a revenueproducing duty. It has always been urged that if we increase the Customs duty on any article local prices will advance. In this case that has not occurred.
– What would happen if we gave the Australian distilleries permission to increase the price of Australian whisky ? Would that be as satisfactory to them as this increased duty?
– No. The effect of any such increase would be to reduce the consumption of Australian whisky, and that would not suit Australian distilleries: Importers are awaiting the decisions readied in this chamber and whether the duties are raised or decreased there will be heavy importations of whisky. They would be foolish to import large quantities while there is a possibility of reduced rates being adopted.
– It does not make any difference to the importers, as the whisky is kept in bond.
– The protection under this proposal is 10 per cent, less than it was prior to the war.
– Yes, the local distilleries are at a greater disadvantage now than they were at that time. The Australian whisky is produced under the strictest supervision.
-*- Is not all whisky, except that manufactured inillicit stills?
– No ; there is hardly any supervision over the manufacture of some imported whisky. The local manufacturers of Australian whisky, who, Senator Ogden said, had formed a combine, have to compete with the Scotch whisky distillers, who comprise one of the world’s greatest combines, and have been in control of rum-running operations in the United States of America.
– Why have a combine here ?
– If the distillers in Australia have amalgamated, their work is under our supervision and control. Considerable expenditure in advertising is incurred on behalf of the manufacturers of imported whisky; at times whole pages of the daily newspapers are devoted to advertisements concerning the merits of imported spirits. In these circumstances it is reasonable to ask how the local distillers, who have not been operating fully for a very long time, can expect, without increased protection, to successfully compete with, such strong opposition. Before the higher duties were imposed, the Australian distilleries were languishing, but they are now increasing their trade, and it is only reasonable to assume that, as the quality of our wines has improved under a protective policy, the quality of our whisky is also likely to improve. If we can produce the finest brandy in the world, as is now admitted, there is no reason why Australian distillers should not manufacture whisky of a very high standard.
.- When I entered the chamber to-day I had not made up my mind as to how I should vote on this item. In common with other honorable senators who have expressed their views on fiscal matters, I am willing to assist in affording necessary protection to any industry which is striving to compete against the manufactures of other countries which are being sold in Australia at rates much lower than are being charged for similar articles produced in the Commonwealth. That is not the case in this instance-
– If the Austraiian Distilleries Limited increased the price of Australian whisky so that it would have to be sold at lOd. a nobbier, would the honorable senator support the higher duties ?
– That has nothing to do Avith the question. We have to face the position as it is. In this instance it is alleged that the Australian distillers are unable to compete with the distillers overseas, but the former are selling their spirit at a price which is about 33$ per cent, less than that of the imported.
– In that case they ought to be protected.
– What extra protection do the local manufacturers require when they are already able to sell their product at a cheaper price than that of the imported spirit? Had the Minister admitted that it was necessary to impose additional duties for revenue purposes, I should not have hesitated to support the item, because I think that in such circumstances it is preferable to raise revenue on whisky rather than on certain other commodities. For the six months ended 28th February, 1926, the total decrease in revenue in five of the States as the result of the combined operation of the whisky duties, amounted to £76,452. Senator Findley ‘s remarks this afternoon we’re a direct contradiction of those he made on the second reading of the bill, when he complained that, owing to the imposition of high duties, the value of shares and the dividends paid by certain protected companies had been increased.
– I did not say that.
– I understood the honorable senator to say that the shares of many of the protected industries had been booming during the last few months, and that the value of the shares and the dividends paid, in the case of woollen mills particularly, had been advancing. The honorable senator does not object to distillery shares being boomed, and additional dividends being granted to the shareholders. As the Australian distillers are not suffering from unfair competition, as are the manufacturers of knitted and woollen goods, I do not think they are entitled to additional protection.
– They suffered to the extent of having to close down three distilleries.
– Senator Ogden explained what has been done, and the Minister knows that it is a common practice for manufacturers in the same line of business to combine in order to save overhead expenses by using one big plant.
– In this instance the whole of the plants were practically idle.
– And since the higher duty was imposed they have recommenced operations.
– The manufacture is now controlled by one company.
– We have to consider whether additional duties are necessary for the protection of the industry, and if the local spirit is faced with unfair competition.
– Would the honorable senator apply the same reasoning to the duties on Australian wines which are being sold at less than the charge for imported wines?
– The duty on wines is not at present under consideration.
– The honorable senator did not object to the increase in the duties imposed on wines which are higher than those imposed on whisky.
– The honorable senator will have an opportunity later of testing the feeling of the committee on wine duties. Even if the quality of the Australian spirit was superior to that of the imported product it would not alter my opinion as to the way in which I should cast my vote. I believe that the Australian whisky is a pure spirit, but the question of whether it is superior to that distilled in Scotland, Ireland or else* where, has not to be considered. The fact that the Australian product is manufactured under the supervision of excise officials, and that it has to be kept in the wood for a specified period, is a guarantee of its purity. It is stated in to-day’s newspapers tha,t the revenue obtained from Customs and excise is £2,000,000 in excess of that estimated by the Treasurer (Dr. Page), and consequently it is unnecessary to impose high duties on whisky for the purpose of raising more revenue, but if the result of the imposition of this additional duty on whisky had been £350,000, as anticipated, it would have been one of the strongest arguments that could be used in asking the Senate to maintain the present rates. I should prefer to see revenue raised from whisky rather than from boots and clothes; but my information is that this duty has not produced more revenue. Our revenue has not been affected. Australian whisky is sold at a price 25 per cent, below that of the imported article, consequently it does not need this additional protection. I am consistent in that I believe that an Australian industry ought to be- protected against the possibility of being under-sold by oversea manufacturers. But I consider that on this occasion I shall be justified in voting to request the House of Representatives to reduce the item by 5s. a gallon.
– As I understand the position, we have upon the Tariff Board gentlemen in whom this and the sister chamber have every confidence. From the report of that body I have not been able to glean any information which convinces me that it is necessary to impose a higher duty on imported whisky. I largely adopt the arguments that have been used by Senator Foll. The Minister (Senator Crawford) has burnt his boats. He has informed us that the increase is proposed with the object of giving protection to the Australian industry. Apart from the information that Senator Ogden has furnished, we do not know the number of employees engaged in this industry, where it operates, or the quantity of primary produce that is involved. Having regard to the figures that have been made available, I should be lacking in my duty if I were to vote for the additional duty. The Minister suggested that three distilleries had been closed down. That is the type of closing down that we frequently have in matters of this sort. Senator Ogden’s statements appear to me to warrant our sending this matter back to the Tariff Board for further investigation before we cast a vote upon it. It is not that we have any complaint to make against the chemical properties of the Australian whisky. As a young man I took partin the defence of a chemist, who was accused of having sold vinegar that did not answer to the standard of malt vinegar. We proved that, although it was acetic acid vinegar, chemically it answered the standard of malt vinegar. But who would use acetic acid vinegar instead of malt vinegar ? Whatever chemical tests whisky may be subjected to, I can subject it only to the test of public opinion. What is it that the people of this country desire? The Minister and supporters of the Government have shown that the price of Australian whisky is lower per nobbier, per gallon, and wholesale, than the price of imported whisky; yet the public of Australia will not accept it! Surely the public is the best judge of what is good for it?
– Could not the same argument be used in respect to South Australian wines?
– South Australian wines only need to be known to be taken. I point out to those honorable senators who speak so glibly of South Australian wines that I have never voted either for or against a duty on wine. In any case, wine is in an entirely different category from whisky, the manufacture of which in Australia is an artificial industry. Wine is one of the natural products of this country. Rightly or wrongly, the Australian public will not drink the local whisky.
– But it will drink local wines.
– That is so. We have not exported any whisky, but we have exported a certain quantity of wine.
– With the aid of a bounty.
– Quite so. Senator Elliott has given us the assurance that the price of Australian whisky will not be raised. I endeavoured to puncture a similar argument, which was put forward by one of my Tasmanian friends in relation to the price of timber. We are not here to make bargains. As business men we must apply our minds to any matter that comes before us. According to Senator Ogden there has recently been an amalgamation of interests for the purpose of controlling the manufacture of whisky in Australia. I understand from the Minister that there are only four whisky distilleries in Australia. Shares have been allotted to the various interests that have amalgamated. Despite the fact that the Australian article is being sold at a lower price than the imported, we are asked to increase the duty on the latter. The inevitable result will be an increase in the price of Australian whisky, if the duty is sufficiently high to keep out the imported article. I predict that that will never happen, and that we shall merely be penalizing the consumer. We should have placed before us facts and figures justifying the proposed increase. We have been inundated with correspondence from both the Federal Distilleries and the representatives of the importers. The argument advanced in favour of the increase is that it is necessary for protective reasons. No such case has been made out by either the Government or the Tariff Board. I shall support Senator Grant’s request.
– The quality of Scotch whisky does not concern me very greatly. Experts assure us that the quality of Australian whisky is excellent. I want this industry to be built up under Australian working conditions. I have always argued that it is the duty of the Australian Parliaments to promote Australian industry whenever they have a say, either directly or indirectly, in the working conditions of the people who are employed in that industry. “We have no say in the conditions of employment of those who manufacture Scotch, Irish, or other whiskies. I would make the duty higher than is proposed. I hope that this is but a commencement, and that later further increases will be imposed so that the distilling companies of Australia will have an opportunity to provide adequate stocks for those who desire to purchase their product’. The following paragraph appeared in this morning’s press: -
It is interesting to note that early in April last the Minister of Finance for the Union of South Africa announced in the Cape House of Assembly that the duty on whisky, brandy, and gin was to be increased from 37s. Gd. to 45s. per proof gallon. That duty is now in force.
If the Government of South Africa is not afraid to enter into competition with the great whisky combine in the Old World, why should we in Australia not act similarly, and thus build up a profitable industry ? Where would our wine industry have been but for the highly protective duty that it has enjoyed ? I remember the prejudice that existed years ago against clothing which was manufactured in Australia. There was a man in South Australia who invariably sent’ to London to have his clothes made. There was not in Australia a tailor good enough for him. Our wines are gradually finding a place on the market, and we now have good Australian gin and whisky. If the price. of the imported article is made dearer under the operation of the tariff, the people will naturally take to the Australian article. The local industry can be controlled. As a matter of fact we could take over that industry if it became a menace. I hope that the Government’s proposal will be carried. Let us give it a trial. If in twelve mouths or less we find that we have made a mistake we can revert to the previous duty. I trust that when the industry is better established it will continue .to produce as good a whisky as it is producing to-day.
Senator HOARE (South Australia) other teetotallers ought not to vote upon this matter. I intend to vote for the proposal of the Government, because I am in favour of building up an Australian industry. I do not agree with the sentiments which were expressed by Senator Ogden. If there were a whisky distillery in Tasmania he would cry aloud for a very much higher duty than that which is proposed. He said we should vote against the increase because it would mean the creation, of a monopoly” in Australia. It would be better to have a monopoly within our shores than abroad, because we could then exercise some control over it. Senator Barwell referred to the falling off in the importations of overseas whiskies. That is what we want to see. Preference must be given to the Australian whisky. So long as there is a market for the spirit we should support its manufacture in Australia. It is a luxury, and those who are not prepared to drink the Australian product should pay a higher price for the imported article. Some honorable senators have condemned the flavour of Australian whisky. We had the same experience in South Australia. When the production of Chateau Tanunda Brandy was first undertaken there was a prejudice against it, but it was gradually worn down, and to-day that brandy is regarded as one of the best in the world. People will gradually realize that Australian whisky is as good as any that oan be imported, and its consumption will steadily increase. Senator Lynch has pointed out_ that, when all is said and done, a man generally considers his pocket and buys the cheaper article.
– People are not doing it to-day.
– At any rate we ought to give the matter a trial before saying who is right or wrong in that respect. We know, that distilleries which had to close down have resumed operations since the imposition of these increased duties, and that the price of the local article has not been increased. If while there is no increase in the price of the local article, the increased duty affords employment to our own people, I think we are entitled to give the matter a trial. There will he ample opportunity to review our decision of to-day when the tariff again comes before us for revision.
– I think Senator Lynch hit the nail on the head to-day when he said that one has to cultivate a taste for a particular brand of whisky. A young man has to cultivate a taste for tomatoes, but once he has done so he becomes very fond of them, and, as with whisky, he has many varieties to choose from. I have a drink when I feel I want one. If I want a drink of whisky I drink whisky; if I feel that beer will suit my palate better, I drink beer. I think I have tasted all the whiskies on the market, and I am satisfied that the Australian whisky is all that it is claimed to be. A man can drink Australian whisky at night time and feel no ill effects in the morning, but I cannot say the same of some of the imported whiskies. They give you that dark brown taste in the morning that urges you to have a hair of the dog that hit you. As I said on Friday last I shall vote for duties on articles that can be manufactured in Australia, in order to protect them from outside competition.
– Whisky is already well protected.
– It is not sufficiently protected to enable the local producers to carry on. If it is a fact, as stated to-day, that 500,000 bushels of barley are used each year in the production of Australian spirit, it means something to Australians to have Old Court whisky produced here. Honorable senators must bear in mind that the Australian whisky is distilled under stringent regulations, and that the analytical reports show that it is an absolutely pure spirit. In that respect no imported whisky can beat it. It is certainly equal to any of the Scotch whiskies referred to by Senator Barwell, Senator McLachlan and others. It has been said by an honorable senator that when this increased duty is given there will be nothing to prevent the distillers from increasing their prices, but the Tariff Board Act in effect provides that manufacturers cannot increase their prices without the approval of the Customs authorities. This distillery company, whether it covers four concerns or represents one distillery only, gives employment to a number of people. It is only a matter of the Australian people acquiring a taste for a particular bever age. Senator Lynch has told the Senate that the price of a nobbier of Scotch whisky in Western Australia is 1s. - when he and I first went to the State, beer was1s. a glass - and that the man who is asked to pay 8d. a nobbier for Australian whisky as against1s. a nobbier for imported whisky will realize that he is in pocket in buying the former. I have heard no arguments against the proposed increase in the duties. I regret that the Minister (Senator Crawford) did not have more to say in support of the item, but because it is intended to encourage an Australian industry. I shall give it ray support.
– Will the honorable senator quote that part of the Tariff Board Act which indicates that producers cannot increase the price of local whisky.
– The provision of the act is as follows : - 16. (1) The Minister shall refer to the board for inquiry and report the following matters: - (ft.) any complaint that a manufacturer is taking undue advantage of the protection afforded him by the tariff, and in particular in regard to his -
This shows conclusively that when an increased duty has been imposed the manufacturers cannot increase their prices at their own sweet will.
– I have listened with very much interest to the debate on the first item of the schedule, and from what I have heard I can come to no other conclusion than that if the increased duty on whisky is agreed to it will mean the more permanent establishment of the industry of distilling whisky in Australia. When I was speaking on the second reading of the bill I think I gave a fair indication that I favoured what I termed adequate protection for Australian industries, but I must qualify that statement. While I am quite prepared to give protection to industries the establishment of which I believe will be beneficial to Australia, at no time shall I vote for the more per- manent establishment of any industry which has for its object the manufacture of alcoholic liquor in Australia. I do not believe that such an industry will benefit Australia, and I am therefore compelled to vote against an item which if agreed to will bring about its successful establishment. I make this statement now so that when a division on this item is taken my attitude will be clearly understood.
.- I shall support the item, because the Tariff Board which has examined the whole of the facts has recommended it. It is impossible for Parliament to ascertain the whole of the facts surrounding any particular industry. That is the reason for appointing committees and commissions to inquire into such matters. I take it that the Government has been guided by the Tariff Board in proposing this duty. One honorable senator informed me that it was impossible to make good whisky in Australia. He said that we might make a good spirit, but not whisky, because we had no bog here. I asked him whether it would be possible to import a bog for the purpose. Although there is a great difference between the prices, there’ is not much difference between the quality of Australian and imported whisky. As Australians, we should be concerned with the establishment of industries in this country. People who should know have told me that Australian whisky is made under conditions which are far superior to those imposed in any other part of the world.
– The whisky importers did not say that.
– No. The whisky importers hitherto have had things much their own way. A few years ago a bottle of imported whisky could be purchased for 4s. 2d. ; it is now 13s. 6d. Australian whisky is about half that price ; and I am told that, in all probability, its price will be reduced before long.
– Does not the fact that Australian whisky can be sold at a lower price suggest that there is no need for the additional duty?
– I think that the argument is in the opposite direction. I admit that I am not acquainted with all the circumstances leading up to the recommendation of the Tariff Board, but there must have been some reason for it, and for its acceptance by the Government. The imposition of duties on whisky is not a party question. An Australian industry is concerned. Surely we in this chamber stand for establishing Australian industries! One honorable senator said that the establishment of this industry was not in the best interests of Australia, and that therefore he could not vote for its encouragement. “Whatever may be our private opinions regarding strong drink, we know that the fighting races of the world have always been drinkers. That disposes of one difficulty in the consideration of this question. The industry is here, and our own countrymen are engaged in it. Notwithstanding what may be said regarding Scotch, Irish, or other imported whiskies, we should stand by this Australian industry.
– We have in Senator Reid a Scotch teetotaller !
– In that case, he should be sent to the museum. My concern is that this industry should be firmly established in Australia.
– Then why not remove the excise duty?
– That would not meet the situation. If I had my way, instead of its being possible to sell imported whisky for1s. a nobbler, I should increase the duty so that it could not be sold under 2s. a nobbler ; and if that resulted in the price of Australian whisky being unjustly increased, I should assist to pass laws to deal with the profiteers. Some honorable senators seem to fear something in that direction, but I do not. The additional duty of 5s. a gallon should enable an Australian product, produced under close supervision, and suitable to the requirements and the pockets of Australia’s manhood, to compete on satisfactory terms with the imported spirit, which is manufactured under conditions of which we know nothing. So far as I am aware, there are no regulations governing the production of whisky manufactured in other countries, and imported into Australia.
– The export of whisky is controlled.
– I am of the opinion that much of the whisky exported from England is gathered from midEurope, where it is produced without supervision.
– That is n false statement.
– That at all events is my opinion. I point out that no honorable senator who favours the importation of whisky has informed the Senate of any regulations governing the manufacture of the spirit which they desire the Australian consumer to drink.
– So far as official information shows, the honorable senator is right regarding imported whisky.
– I am glad to have the Minister’s confirmation. I take it that the Government is concerned about the purity of the whisky consumed by the people of Australia; yet it has been unable to ascertain that there is any government supervision over the manufacture of whisky outside Australia.
– Then the Government has not found out much.
– The honorable senator will have an opportunity to explain to the Senate the conditions governing the manufacture of the whisky which is imported into Australia. I challenge any honorable senator to supply the formula to which the whisky distillers of other countries have to conform, or the regulations imposed upon them. We should at least know whether the whisky imported into this country is manufactured under decent conditions. This Parliament has laid down definitely the methods of manufacture for whisky produced in Australia, and the standard to which it must conform. From the harvesting of the barley to the bottling of the whisky, the whole process is under the supervision of the excise authorities. Moreover, all spirit produced in Australia must be matured in wood for a number of years before it is placed on the market.
– Two years.
– I am informed that no Australian whisky is placed on the market until it is at least five years old. ^ ‘ ‘
– The position is the same in Great Britain, both in regard to whisky for export and that required for home consumption.
– All whisky manufactured is regulated.
– I accept the Minister’s statement that the Government cannot ascertain the regulations governing the manufacture of whisky outside Australia. I ask honorable senators why they object to the additional duty of 5s. a gallon on imported whisky ?
– It is not necessary.
– The Government has said that it is necessary. It is not often that I am found supporting the Government; but the establishment of this industry is a matter of importance to Australia, and, because I am a protectionist, I. shall support the Government on this occasion. I am an Australian first, and I intend to do what I can to protect the industries of my own country.
– Does the honorable senator drink Australian whisky?
– I do my share of it. If the honorable senator wishes to get personal and first-hand evidence of my attitude towards Australian whisky, I suggest that, at the close of this debate, he should invite me to the place where we can get it. I cannot understand why any honorable senator should oppose this increase in duty, unless, as Senator Barwell interjected, it is because, in their opinion, the industry does not require protection.
.- Certain statements have been made during the debate which I think call for some explanation and contradiction. I stated that the probable result of an increase in duty would be an increase in the price of the local product. Advocates in this chamber of Australian whisky distilleries say that that is not likely to happen. I think Senator Elliott declared that the Australian manufacturer had given an undertaking that there would be no increase in price. Unfortunately for that honorable senator, I have documentary evidence to the contrary. I have in my hand a circular letter written by the Federal Distilleries Limited, Brinds Limited, and the Australian Distillery Company Limited to a client in Brisbane. It is dated 20th May, and reads: -
Bear Sir or Madam,
We are forwarding you under separate cover two show-cards representing the four advertised brands, of Australian whisky. We feel sure if these cards are placed in a prominent position, it will assist greatly in notify- ing the public of the decision of the United Licensed Victuallers Association, Brisbane, to charge8d. per nobbler for Australian whiskies. For your information the following comparison will show the advantage in selling our Australian product at 8d. as against the imported article at 10d.: -
– That is only what they might be expected to do. It is the obvious result of the increase in this item.
– But Senator Elliott said that there was a definite understanding that the price of Australian whisky would not be increased.
– The figures quoted by the honorable senator are the retail, not the wholesale, price.
– Of course. My point is that, whilst it has been said that the price of Australian whisky will not be raised, this document shows that definite action has been taken to increase the price. The circular continues -
Another very important factor is, the Australian nobbier at 8d. isbound to increase the consumption of whisky.
What do our temperance friends say about that?
– Eightpence, as against 6d . ?
There is room for this. The consumption of whisky in Australia fell from approximately 3,000,000 gallons in 1914 to 1,000,000 gallons in 1924.
Australian whisky is now distilled and bottled in bond under conditions described by Senator Barnes just now. The circular concludes -
Your esteemed support in this movementcannot fail to result to our mutual advantage.
This is documentary evidence that even before the duty has been agreed to by the Senate, an attempt is being made to increase the price. I am not an extremist, and I have no interest to serve in this matter. I look upon this proposal to increase the duty on whisky as one that will give local distilleries a licence to extort further profits from the people of Australia.
– Who signed that document which the honorable senator has just quoted ?
– It is signed by Mr. Charles Watt for the Federal Distilleries Limited, Brind’s Proprietary Limited, and The Australian Distillery Company Limited .
– What was the percentage rate of duty before the increase was given ?
– I think the Minister said the preference was 4s.
– That was the difference between the excise and the import duty.
– We have learned something in this debate. We have heard Senator Lynch contending that a tariff duty designed to give adequate protection may at the same time be revenueproducing. To me that is an extraordinary statement.
– But Senator Lynch admitted that he was illogical.
– All I can say is that I hope he will not be as illogical in the debate on the other items. I rose mainly to contradict the statement that the local distilleries would not raise their prices if this increase in duty were agreed to. I think I have shown that they have already done so.
– A few minutes ago Senator Elliott stated that the Australian distillers had agreed not to raise the price of the local product if the increased duty were passed. We were inclined to believe the honorable senator, and especially after Senator Hoare had made a statement to the same effect. Senator Ogden has now produced a document which flatly contradicts both those honorable gentlemen. The statement was definite that the price of a nobbier of Australian whisky in all the capital cities was about 6d. We now find from the circular quoted by Senator Ogden that the price in Brisbane is 8d. a nobbier. I know of no reason why the people there should be charged 8d. if the price elsewhere in Australia is 6d. If Senator Barnes is so anxious to encourage the manufacture of Australian whisky, why does not he move for the abolition of the excise duty ?
– I remind the honorable senator that the committee is not dealing with excise duties.
– I am aware of that, Mr. Chairman, and I was merely reminding Senator Barnes that, if he wished to encourage the Australian industry, the excise duty should be wiped, out altogether. I listened very carefully to Senator Graham who, quoting from the Tariff Board Act, said that the local manufacturers of whisky could not increase their prices, unreasonably. No one who examines the document produced by Senator Ogden will find in that any suggestion that prices will not be increased. T remind Senator Barnes also that we belong to a party that stands for the new protection, which ensures good wages for workers and fair profits for manufacturers. Very few forget the Harvester case, which had a direct bearing upon that policy. The High Court held that it was impossible, under our Constitution, to compel any manufacturer to sell his products at any price except that which he fixed himself. The same conditions will govern the attitude of local manufacturers of whisky. I am not aware of the conditions under which whisky is manufactured in other countries, but it appears to me that if Australian whisky is distilled from pure barley malt there must be something more in Scotch whisky to make it more palatable than the Australian article. I hope that the Government will not round up its supporters and compel them to vote for this infamous duty, but that, on the contrary, they will have a free hand. I have no objection to the encouragement of local industries, and again I remind honorable senators that the best way to encourage the Australian whisky industry is to wipe out the excise duty.
– Before the vote is taken it is just as well to clear away the misapprehension under which honorable senators appear to be labouring. Senator Ogden, from whom one would expect better things, chided me on my attitude towards this item, and said that increased duties, imposed for protective duty purposes could not also mean an increase in revenue. In theory, he is right. In the normal course of events, an increase in protective duties should mean a decrease in revenue owing to the expansion of local industry. I always endeavour to square theory with practice, and I am bound to say that, in certain cases, theory does not square with practice. For the purpose of enlightening Senator Ogden I remind him of what happened under the Massy Greene 1920-21 tariff, which may be described as the high-water mark of protection in this country. Before the 1920-21 tariff was passed, the revenue received under this item, was £13,000,000, but, in 1920-21, it jumped to £20,000,000. If Senator Ogden’s contention is correct, it should have declined. In 1921-22 it was £17,000,000, which shows a decline of £3,000,000, but, in 1922-23, it was £22,000,000; in 1923-24, £25,000,000; and, in 1924-25, £26,000,000. It will therefore be seen that, from 1918-19, it jumped from £13,000,000 to £26,000,000.
– The exchange rates were partly responsible.
– During portion of that period they were in our favour.
– That is not so.
– They turned against us, it is true, until, finally, owing to the action taken by this Parliament, the position was adjusted. It will, therefore, be seen that it is foolish for Senator Ogden to suggest that the imposition of higher duties must necessarily lead to a reduction in revenue. The duties were raised, and up went the revenue from £13,000,000 to £26,000,000. I am supporting the increased duties on imported whisky because I am anxious to protect an industry which has not received fair treatment in the past, as is shown by the Minister’s statement that the protection afforded was equivalent to only 16 per cent, or 17 per cent. No honorable senator has challenged the statement that an additional duty of 5s. per gallon will only give protection to the extent of 37 per cent. It is not right to use the importations over a few months as a basis of comparison. I am also supporting the proposal because I consider it right to afford additional protection, particularly when greater assistance is being given to other manufacturers. In giving additional protection to the spirit industry, I am not affecting the productive energy of this country.
– Why further protect a spirit which is already able to undersell the imported product?
– The action of Australian distillers in underselling is immediately converted into an argument against them. If the Australian distillers increased their rates, they would, I suppose, have the sympathy of Senator Ogden, but because they have declined to do so, and are giving consumers a fair deal, he is opposing them. The Australian distillers are placing pure whisky before consumers at a price about 25 per cent. below that charged for the imported spirit. Is that a reason why they should be penalized? I remember hearing of Joshua’s whisky long before the days of Federation, when those concerned in its manufacture were faced with a very difficult proposition. They had to contend with numerous difficulties.
– Because the public would not have it.
– No. The honorable senator and other old Conservatives have the taste of their forefathers, and are unable to recognize the merits of a good product. It is all a question of habit.
– Does the honorable senator drink Australian whisky ?
– I drink anything. With whisky, it is all a matter of custom.
– Why do so many people refuse to drink Australian whisky ?
– We should make consumers realize that it is to their advantage to change their taste, and when they do they will ask for only Australian spirit. Australians are not wine drinkers, because geographical, national and sentimental reasons have operated and have developed an antipathy and antagonism to wine. When I first visited Western Australia I had to drink condensed water, because nothing else was available, and soon became accustomed to it. In visiting Queensland many years ago I was offered all kinds of beverages, some of which seemed so nauseating that I had to spit them out, but later I became accustomed to them.
– The honorable senator developed a taste.
– Yes, and I wish Senator McLachlan to develop a taste for the Australian spirit. In pulverizing the arguments of Senator Ogden I did not have to go outside Australia for the facts, which, like the morning mists, are at our doors. As I have shown, the revenue increased from £13,000,000 to £26,000,000.
– Does not that show that under high protection the people are better able to purchase imported spirits - that they are better off?
– I do not admit that. Another point which is slightly alien to the subject under discussion is the enormous prosperity which enables the people to purchase these commodities in spite of the price. The Australian whisky industry has been struggling against an almost impossible proposition, and has been growing faint-hearted by the wayside, but now, owing to the imposition of protective duties, it is in a better position, and is disposing of its product to the community at a reasonable price. I do not know any one associated with the industry in Australia; but, as the spirit being produced is being sold at 7d. a nobbier as against1s. charged in Western Australia for imported whisky the industry should be encouraged. As those associated with the business in Australia apparently have a conscience they should not be penalized. If they were charging l0d. or11d. a nobbler, Senator Ogden and Senator McLachlan would be accusing them of not doing a fair thing. If other manufacturers in Australia would sell at reasonable prices, when under the protection afforded they are able to do so. I would not oppose the duties proposed on many of the items mentioned in the schedule. In many instances, however, local manufacturers, taking advantage of the high protective tariff, raise their prices almost to the level of those charged for the foreign manufactures, and in many cases the prices of imported goods are also increased. That is one reason why I oppose excessive duties, which destroy the productive energy of a country. Whisky does not matter. If any of the superfluities enumerated under the old sumptuary laws are taxed to the extent of 60 per cent., 70 per cent., or even 80 per -cent., I shall support such items, because the people do not need them. I am illogical, but I am honest enough to admit it.
– Hear, hear!
– There is a long dark journey to traverse before we get through the tariff forest. Wait until we reach the duties proposed on South Australian wines. I think I have said sufficient to compel Senator Ogden to put on his considering cap. Honorable senators should also remember that the manufacture of this spirit is supervised by representatives of the Government. The distillers are told to do certain things in order to ensure a wholesome spirit being placed before the people. The Government do not prevent the bootmakers from using brown paper in the articles they produce. The Australian whisky must be made from a pure barley malt : molasses or potatoes cannot be used in its manufacture.
– The operations of butter manufacturers are under the supervision of Government officials.
– That is provided for under a special act. “We are told that the whisky produced overseas is subjected to supervision. Mr. Ruthven, the representative of the Johnnie Walker product, said before the Tariff Board -
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- I should not have spoken again but for the remarks made by more than one honorable senator in discussing this item. I have the greatest respect for those who hold certain fiscal beliefs, and who show some semblance of consistency, but it appears that some honorable senators are consistent only in their inconsistency. For instance, before Senator McLachlan had .completed one sentence he denned his attitude on this item. He said that, in the absence of full information, he would not vote for the increased duty. He also said that this was an artificial industry and should not, therefore, be supported. Why, then, is he anxious to obtain information in relation to it? He placed it in a different category from the wine industry. A section of the community - possibly a limited section - considers that wine, beer, whisky, brandy, gin, and other liquors are non-essentials.
– Brandy has exactly the same amount of protection that we now propose to give to whisky.
– Each of these industries should receive every possible encouragement from the people of Australia. The increase in the duty on brandy has had the effect of considerably increasing the output of Australian brandy, against which at one time there was a very strong prejudice. A similar prejudice existed against Australian wines, which, to use an Australianism, were not considered “ classy “ enough to place on the tables of “ classy “ people. To-day Australian champagne and other wines have a big market, principally because of the increased duties. Senator Payne said he declined to vote for this duty because he would not do anything to encourage the establishment of the industry iu Australia. It has been established for some years, and has had a struggle to exist. What attitude did Senator Payne take up in relation to it in previous debates on the tariff? Looking at the matter purely from the temperance advocate’s viewpoint, he should vote for higher duties, because, according to some people, they will restrict the consumption of whisky.
– The Australian industry will be enriched.
– Even assuming that the consumption of Australian whisky is increased, Senator Payne, to be consistent, should vote for the higher duty, because we are able to control our own industries. The Government propose to submit to the people a referendum in reference to the nationalization of monopolies. Have we not, time and again, by .legislation and the imposition of duties, assisted monopolies] I read, the other day, that there had been a merging of nearly all the hat mills in Australia. For what reason ? To save a certain amount of overhead charges, lessen the cost of production, and probably produce a superior article. If we accepted the argument that we ought not to increase this duty because the Australian article is being sold at a lower price than the imported article, we should have to apply that principle to almost everything that we manufacture. Our wines, our boots, our hats, are cheaper . than those that are imported. If a high protectionist is an “ out-and-outer,” then I am one. Some men are “inandouters” ; you never know when you have them ; they want the highest possible protection for industries that are established iu their States, but the lowest protection for industries that do not affect their States. There are also “roundabouters,” who, on the fiscal question, dodge here, there, and everywhere. “When I hear Tasmanian representatives making a pathetic appeal for a lower duty in respect to this article, I am not unmindful of the fact that time and again they have appealed for higher duties on timber 1 Why ? Because imported timber is being sold at a lower and sometimes higher, price than Australian. Those honorable senators do not claim that the imported timber is inferior to the local. Some builders regard it as a better class of timber for certain work. We have frequently heard honorable senators from Tasmania pleading for assistance to be given to the hop industry. Temperance advocates from that State do not object to the imposition of a high duty on hops. The adoption by the Government of a recommendation of the Tariff Board is not necessarily an argument in favour of Parliament agreeing to it. But we must not forget that the board is composed of gentlemen who, at the time of their appointment, were said to be well fitted for their high and responsible positions. Importers and manufacturers can appear before that tribunal, and have done so from time to time. The Australian manufacturers of whisky asked the board to grant the following requests - 1, That the regulations applying to the manufacture and maturity of the Australian standard pure malt whisky he applied to all imported whisky, described as whisky, and that same be strictly enforced,
From the second request it will be seen that they asked only for that preference which they had in 1914. The Tariff Board recommended the granting of that request. This was the only industry which suffered a decrease of duty during the war.
– Did anybody appear before the Board on behalf of the consumer ?
– Both inside and outside of this chamber I, and other members of the Labour party, have done our best to secure the representation of the consumers on the Tariff Board. The Labour party stands for that policy, but the Government of which the honorable senator is a supporter has never acquiesced in it. The consumers are certain to get a fair and square deal from the Australian manufacturer. The local spirit is distilled under the most rigid supervision. Australian working conditions are observed and the wages are fixed by either a wages board or an Arbitration Court, and not according to the law of supply and demand or upon the principle of freedom of contract. Similar conditions are not observed in the manufacture of imported whisky. It has been suggested that the excise should be reduced by 5s., the argument being that that would give an equal measure of protection to the local product. Let us examine that contention. When proof spirit is reduced to selling strength, a duty of 5s. per proof gallon amounts to½d. a nobbler. When that spirit is retailed, an increase of1d. and in some cases, according to some honorable senators, 2d. or 3d. has been passed on to the public.
– I do not think so. In Tasmania nothing waspassed on.
– I am reliably informed that since the imposition of the increased duties the price of imported whisky has been increased not only by the amount of the duty, but also by an additional charge. It is not a difficult matter to pass on an increase in duty. In fact, it is a simple matter to do so. It is also a simple matter to pass on something in addition to the duty, as the importers of whisky have done. If the excise duty had been reduced by 5s. a gallon, which would mean½d. a nobbler, it would have been very difficult for the manufacturer so to adjust his business that the consumer would be advantaged to the extent of that½d.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
.- I should not have risen had it not been for the assertion of Senator Ogden that I had misrepresented the position in regard to the undertaking of the local distillers not to increase the price of whisky. In support of his contention the honorable senator read a circular issued by the distillers to certain persons in Queensland. I must congratulate the honorable senator on the adroit manner in which he twisted its meaning. It is quite obvious from the tone of it that the letter was urging a decrease in the price, but
Senator Ogden had pencilled on the margin the words “ from 6d “, and read them as if they were part of the letter.
– I did not.
-The letter is as follows : -
We ave forwarding yon under separate cover two allow cards representing the four advertised brands of Australian whisky. We feel sure if these cards arc placed in a prominent position it will assist greatly in notifying the public of the decision of the United Licensed Victuallers Association, Brisbane, to charge 8d. per nobbier for Australian whisky.
Obviously if it meant an increase in the price they would not have been too anxious to notify the public. But even if it had meant an increase, it would not have disproved the contention that the distillers ‘ were not increasing their price, because the increase would have been made by the licensed victuallers and not by the distillers. As a matter of fact, the letter shows clearly that the licensed victuallers were being urged to reduce the price.
– I read that letter as indicating that the posters forwarded would be good advertisements for the Australian product.
– The posters were to assist in notifying the public of the decision of the Licensed Victuallers Association to charge Sd. a nobbier. Why should they seek to do so if they were proposing to increase the price? The fact of the matter was that as they were bringing about a decrease in price it was of great advantage to them to bring that fact prominently before the public.
– Was it not clearly an increase on the previous rate, that is to say, an increase from 6d. to 8d. ?
– No. After quoting comparative prices, the letter proceeds -
It will be seen by these figures that the Australian nobbier at 8d. returns 47.1 per cent, greater profit than imported at lOd.
Senator Lynch has shown that the charge on the Western Australian goldfields is ls. If the distilleries in urging the licensed victuallers on these goldfields to charge 10d., pointed out that it would be in their interest to do so, because it would give them a greater percentage of profit than they could get out of imported whisky at ls., they would be doing just what they were doing in the circular for warded to the Brisbane licensed victuallers. This letter proceeds: -
Another very important factor is, the Australian nobbier at 8d. is bound to increase the consumption of whisky.
How could an increase of price, if this was what they were urging, increase the consumption of whisky? Yet honorable senators who heard Senator Ogden, accepted the suggestion made by him that it was an increase in price that was meant. Obviously it was the very contrary. The letter proceeds: -
There is room for this. The consumption of whisky in Australia fell from approximately 3,000,000 gallons in 1914, to approximately 1,000,000 in 1924.
Showing, as Senator Payne is aware, that as a people we .are becoming more abstemious at any rate in regard to the consumption of whisky -
Australian whisky is now distilled and bottled in bond under Government supervision, and being described as “ old,” complies with a strict Government regulation which insists that whisky bottled in bond and described as “ old “ must be matured in wood for a minimum period of five years.
– The Minister says that the period is two years.
– Whisky is not classified as such until it has been matured in wood for at least two years. But if it is described as old whisky it must be matured in wood for a period of five years. The letter concludes: -
Your esteemed support in this movement cannot fail to result to our mutual advantage.
How would it result to the mutual advantage of the public and the Australian distilleries if the price at which Australian whisky was sold to the public was increased, when the obvious intention was to increase the consumption of the article ?
– That letter was addressed to the trade and not to the public.
– Yes; but it rests with the trade to bring these particulars before the public. In any case how would an increase in the price increase the sale of their article? Obviously the best way to increase sales is to decrease the price.
– As the debate proceeds we acquire a little more information. Incidentally we have had lectures from some of our Puritan friends on the Government side of the chamber. For instance, Senator Payne has lectured all and sundry. He may avoid the use of whisky, but I do not know that he lectures against gambling.
– I wish the honorable senator would stick to the item.
– The honorable senator will do nothing for any other State unless he can get something for Tasmania, and, as he cannot see anything in the proposed duties on whisky to the advantage of his own State, he gives us one of his occasional lectures. I hope that in future he will be consistent, and as he has become a real Puritan, I hope that he will go outside and talk against gambling.
– The honorable senator must desist from personal observations.
– I have a circular, which contains the following: -
It is now generally recognized that the majority of the Scotch whiskeys now on the Australian market are blended spirits, consisting of approximately 25 to 30 per cent. pure malt whisky, and the balance silent or neutral spirit.
– We can safely contradict that.
– It will be something to contradict. The letter which the honorable senator read seemed to be a “ frame-up “ for this debate.
– I should not be surprised at the honorable senator getting that impression.
– It gave more than one honorable senator that impression. I believe it was a “ frame-up “ for the distinct purpose of defeating this item in the schedule.
– It is quite reasonable to suggest that, to sell an article at 8d. would bring more trade than would the selling of it at1s.
– Senator Ogden, in reading the letter, said that these people wanted to increase the price from 8d. to 9d.
– No. I said that they wanted to increase it from 6d. to 8d.
– Thatwas not the impression the honorable senator conveyed. He said, first of all, that the price was 6d., and that later on these people wanted to raise it from 8d. to 9d. As a matter of fact, they were anxious to get the price back from 9d. to 8d. In some places, it had risen to 9d., and they were energetically seeking to reduce it to 8d.
– Does the honorable senator mean that I framed this up?
– No. But I believe that it was a “ frame-up “ on the honorable senator.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to8 p.m.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Bill received from the House of Repr esentati ves .
.- I move-
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through all its staged without delay.
In order to explain the urgency of this measure, and the need for the motion which I have moved, I remind honorable senators that, within the last few days, the Commonwealth has lost the services of a valued public servant, in the person of Mr. J. W. Israel, the late AuditorGeneral. During his illness, the Government, under the provisions of the Audit Act, appointed Mr. C. J. Cerutty as Acting Auditor-General; but, under the terms of the act there is, on the death of the Auditor-General, no power to appoint an acting Auditor-General. Such an appointment can only be made during the life of the person holding the office of Auditor-General. The Government could, of course, appoint another Auditor-General, but here a serious difficulty arises. The Audit Act provides that the AuditorGeneral shall be appointed for life. The Government deems it desirable - and I think honorable senators will agree - that a retiring age for the position should be fixed. If we appoint an Auditor-General under the present act, he will be appointed for life; no subsequent amendment of the act could rightly take the appointment from him. The appointment of an Auditor-General is urgently necessary, because there are many matters requiring the immediate attention of the person authorized to deal with them as Auditor-General under the Audit Act.
It is essential that not a day should be lost in making the necessary amendment of the existing law. I do not propose, at this stage, to deal with the bill itself. I wish only to show the urgency of this measure, and the need for suspending the Standing and Sessional Orders on this occasion. When moving the second reading of the bill I shall explain its two provisions.
– Is the matter so urgent that it cannot wait until tomorrow ?
– There are certain forms to be complied with before this bill can become operative. To obtain assent to it may take’ a day or two. It is not desirable that there should be any longer interval than is necessary.
.- My attitude towards the suspension of the Standing and Sessional Orders is well known. I invariably oppose such motions. But the statement of the Minister indicates that there is. on this occasion, a real need for their suspension. A situation has arisen over which neither this Parliament nor the Government has had any control. Following the example of the Minister. I shall not refer to the provisions of the bill itself at this stage. In order to get over the difficult position by which the Government and Parliament is confronted, ‘ I shall not oppose the motion.
– There being more than a statutory majority of the whole Senate present, and no voice being raised in the negative, I declare the motion carried.
Bill (on motion by Senator PEARCE’ read a first time.
– I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Honorable senators will notice that there are two provisions in this bill. With the latter provision I shall deal first because it is the more important -
The Auditor-General for the Commonwealth shall cease to hold office upon attaining the age of sixty-five years.
The Public Service Act fixes the retiring age for public servants. When we consider the onerous duties cast upon the
Auditor-General it is clear that we require for that office a man who is in his prime, and is both mentally and physically active. From that I do not infer that the late Auditor-General did not carry out his duties in a thoroughly satisfactory and honorable manner. We all know that he did. But he was a remarkable nian, endowed, notwithstanding his age, with remarkable physical and mental abilities. It is not the good fortune of every mau to have that same mental and physical alertness at an advanced age. It is, therefore, felt that before another Auditor-General is appointed a retiring age for the office should be fixed. That age the Government considers should be 65 years. I do not propose to labour that point, because I believe that the Senate is in accord with the principle. I need only say that the Auditor-General is not an officer of the Government, but an officer of Parliament; he is responsible to Parliament only. He is the watchdog over the financial transactions of the Government, concerning which he reports to Parliament. He can be removed from office only by a resolution passed by both Houses of Parliament. Consideration of those facts should be sufficient to convince any one that for the office of Auditor-General a man of good health and great mental capacity is needed. That fact is made clearer when we remember that the receipts and expenditure of the Commonwealth amount to nearly £120,000,000 per annum. The other provision of this bill is to increase the salary of the office from £1,500 to £12750 per annum. I remind the Senate that when, in 1901, the Auditor-General was appointed under the Audit Act his salary was fixed at £1,000 per annum. To-day it would, take a salary of £2,000 per annum to be equal in purchasing power to the salary fixed for the office in 1901. So important did Parliament regard the position that the late AuditorGeneral, on his appointment in 1901, was practically the highest-paid officer in the Commonwealth Public Service. That state of affairs continued until the Great War, when the cost of living increased enormously. The Auditor-General thereupon made representations to the government of the day, and he was granted an increase in salary by way of an allowance voted annually by Parliament. It is most undesirable that, the Auditor-General should be dependent on an annual vote for a portion of his salary. He shouldbe entirely independent of Parliament. For that reason the Government, in 1924, introduced a measure to increase the salary of the office to £1.500 per annum. That was the salary paid to the late occupant of the office at the time of his death. The existing act provides for a salary of £1,500 per annum for life for the office of Auditor-General . But as we are in this measure amending the term of office to provide that the Auditor-General shall retire at the age of 65 years, it is obvious that unless an increase in the salary is made the new Auditor-General will be in a worse position than was his predecessor. Even with a salary of £1,750 per annum the Auditor-General will not be paid so high a salary as certain other officers of the Public Service. For the heavy responsibility which the Auditor-General of the Commonwealth has to accept a salary of £1,750 per annum cannot be regarded as extravagant. Those are the two provisions of the bill, and they call for no further advocacy on my part. They explain themselves, and are justified by circumstances. The Government desires that this bill shall be passed without delay, so that, as soon as all the formalities have been completed, it may appoint to this most important position an officer who may then proceed to carry out his onerous duties with proper legal authority. I, therefore, ask the Senate to agree to this bill without delay.
– I have had an opportunity to glance at this bill, and can see nothing in it to which exception can be taken. I look upon the Auditor-General as I do upon a judge of the High Court; I consider that he should be independent of Parliament unless Parliament feels that he has done something wrong. I realize the urgency of the measure. The sooner the gap caused by the death of the late Auditor-General is closed the better. The magnitude of the work shows the necessity for continuous watchfulness on the part of the Auditor-General, in order that he may correctly advise Parliament. I desire to express my regret at the death of Mr. Israel. All honorable senators will agree that he fulfilled his duties well. He rendered good service to Parliament and to the country. All my life I have advocated a proper recogni tion of a man’s worth, and adequate remuneration for his services. The duties of the Auditor-General are such as to justify the increase in salary provided in the bill. I will not say that, even then, having regard to the responsible duties to be performed,the occupant will be overpaid. I agree with the Minister that the Auditor-General should be required, as other members of the Public Service are, to retire at the age of 65 years. Realizing that it is desirable to make an appointment without delay, so that the work may be continued, I have no objection to offer to the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Salary of Auditor-General).
– The salary proposed to be paid is £1,750 a year. I do not object to that, although it is an increase upon the amount hitherto paid. My purpose is to direct attention to the haphazard manner in which salaries have been fixed for certain positions, in some instances without regard to the importance of the duties to be performed. I have in mind the salary of £2,000 a year that is being paid to the Official Secretary in Great Britain for the Commonwealth of Australia. It is well within the knowledge of honorable senators that when that lavish salary - I employ that word advisedly - was given to him, no one was more surprised than he. In this case we are fixing the salary for the Auditor-General, a post that carries far more important duties, at £250 a year below that now being paid to the gentleman I have mentioned. Every one knows that his meteoric rise was due apparently to the fact that he was close to the throne - he was under the eye of the Prime Minister of the day. Every one knows also that the salary paid to him. is far and away beyond the equivalent of the services rendered. Though the AuditorGeneral is, as the Minister has said, the watch-dog of the Commonwealth, he is to get £250 a year less than the Official Secretary of the Commonwealth in London. It is obvious that we should have some sense of relativity in fixing salaries for important posts. I offer no objection to the salary proposed for the
Auditor-General, but I do object to this policy of placing fortunate officials who happen to catch the eye of the Prime Minister of the day in a financial position far in advance of the value of the services performed. I support the bill, and only use this occasion to emphasize that salaries for important positions should bear some relation one to another, and be in keeping with the value of the services rendered.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
In committee (Consideration of the schedule, item 3, resumed, vide p. 2493) :
– When moving the adoption of this item, I stated that the purpose of the proposed increased duty was not to increase collections of revenue from the Customs, but to encourage the production of Australian whisky. I should like now to place before the committee certain figures which indicate .the effect which this increased duty will have upon the revenue ; because, whilst the purpose of the increased duty is not to obtain additional revenue, incidentally it will have that effect. In 1924-25, our importations of whisky totalled 1,147,011 gallons, which, at 30s. a gallon, yielded £1,721,978. In the same year, Australian whisky cleared from bond amounted to 127,291 gallons, upon which excise at 26s. per gallon was paid, amounting to £165,479, or a total from import duties arid excise of £1,887,457. Assuming that in the year 1926-27 there will be a total clearance from bond of 500,000 gallons- of Australian whisky, and that the same quantity of whisky is consumed in Australia, that would give us 774,302 gallons of imported whisky, which, at the increased duty of 35s. per gallon, would yield £1,355,028, and 500,000 gallons of Australian whisky at 26s. a gallon excise would yield £650,000, or a total of £2,005*028, or an increase for 1926-27, as compared with 1924-25, of £117,571. We are assuming that the consumption of
Australian whisky will increase from 127,000 to 500,000 gallons.
– Another estimate makes the loss £294,000.
– It has been suggested that the same object might be accomplished by reducing the excise duty to 21s. If that were done, there would be a loss in revenue of £201,004, or a total loss of £398,571, compared with what is estimated will be the result under the Government’s proposal.
– After allowing for an increase in the consumption of Australian whisky?
– Yes, allowing for the same increase, but reducing the excise by 5s. a gallon instead of increasing the Customs duty by 5s. The reduced duties on other items for which the schedule provides, it is anticipated, will mean a decrease in Customs collections of between £750,000 and £1,000,000 sterling, so that it would be a serious matter if the committee decided to decrease the excise duty on Australian whisky instead of increasing the duty on imported whisky. Senator Thompson said that it was impossible to make whisky of the same quality in Australia as that which is manufactured in Scotland, because Scottish distilleries obtain their water from peat wells. If the honorable senator is correct, I am surprised that Australian water is used for breaking down Scotch whisky.
– The honorable senator cannot put that over us.
– I understand that water used for breaking down imported whisky is either distilled or boiled. There are some people who condemn all whisky. I read recently of one man who said that all whisky should be called “ distilled damnation.” I do not know if honorable senators are prepared to go as far as that. I have never before heard it argued that Australian manufacturers should not get increased protection because they are not taking full advantage of existing import duties. The real difficulty confronting the Australian distilleries is not the price at which they have to sell, but the limited demand which exists for their product. If the output of existing distilleries can, with the assistance of nigher duties, be increased to 500,000 gallons a year, it may become profitable for others to engage in the industry. I understand that a prospectus has already been issued for the establishment of a distillery in Sydney. No opposition was raised when it was proposed to increase the import duty on brandy from 30s. to 35s. a gallon two years ago. The reason for increasing the duty on whisky is just as sound only it affects a different class of people. The barley growers in Victoria are likely to benefit by an increased duty on whisky, but the growers of doradilla grapes in other States benefited chiefly by the additional duties imposed on imported brandy. More Australian brandy is being manufactured and placed on the market than was the case two years ago, and less imported brandy is coming into the country. Senator Barwell says that the quality of Australian brandy is better than that of the imported.
– No. I said the Australian prefers the Australian brandy. It suits his palate.
– An honorable senator, who is regarded as an expert, said that if two or three glasses of whisky of different brands were placed before some persons they could not detect the difference by the taste, but an expert could tell by the bouquet. Objection has been taken to higher duties on whisky on the ground that there is a combination of whisky distillers in Australia, but it is common knowledge that a larger and wealthier combination of Scottish distillers is in operation which is spending very large sums of money in advertising in Australia and in other countries. Their propaganda probably costs as much as does the whisky they sell there. Higher duties are necessary in order to meet this strong competition and the prejudice that a great many native born Australians have to the products of their own country. It is considered practically impossible for the Australian distillers to make any satisfactory progress unless this additional protection, which is small when compared with that given to other indus.ri es, is afforded. Wine, for instance, is protected to the extent of 12s. 6d. per gallon, which on an ad valorem basis would be equivalent to 200 per cent.
– What is the percentage of the duty on whisky?
– With a 4s. margin it is from 15 per cent, to 17 per cent., but under the proposed duty it would be equivalent to 27-J per cent. This is about the only Australian product upon which protective duties have not been increased when compared with pre-war rates.
– Is it not a war increase which has not been removed?
– There has been a greater increase in the excise than in the import duties so that the Australian distillers are in a worse position than they were before the war.
– But they are still able to sell bottled whisky at 3s. 6d. below the imported price. .
– They are practically compelled to sell at present prices owing to the prejudice against the Australian spirit. No one suggests that the Australian distillers are making much profit at the prices at present charged.
– Why should there be prejudice against the Australian product?
– There is prejudice amongst a lot of persons in Australia, not only against local whisky, but against Australian productions generally. That is one of the difficulties with which the Australian manufacturers have to contend.
– I have never heard any one complain of Australian sugar.
– There is no room for complaint, as it is 100 per cent, pure. Some honorable senator said that neither the Minister nor the Tariff Board had made out a good case for the proposed increased duty on whisky; but I think a much better case has been made out in support of the increase than has been made by those who are opposing it.
– The Minister has exhausted his time.
– I am somewhat surprised at the interest which has been taken in this item. I cannot see why there should be any objection to the proposed duty, particularly as the prices now in force have been in operation since last September, and, so far as I have been able to gather, whisky consumers have been paying the higher rates without complaint. I have not, to my knowledge, tasted the Australian product known as Old Court, but I may have partaken of it Under another name. It may be quite as good as the imported spirit. ‘We should give the protection proposed; and if we do not we should prohibit importations. I can understand some honorable senators saying that we should not have any whisky at all in Australia; but if we are to allow the foreign products to come here, we should help the product of our own country. During last year, 1,147,011 gallons of imported whisky were taken from bond, which, at the then prevailing duty of 30s. per gallon, produced £1,721,978 in revenue. The Australian whisky taken from bond, upon which excise at 20s. a gallon was paid, totalled 127,291 gallons, and produced £165,479 in revenue. Therefore, the total quantity of whisky cleared for consumption was 1,274,302 gallons; and the amount received in revenue from Customs and excise, £1.887,457. In considering this subject, we have also to study the health of the people, and the standard of purity of the Australian spirit. I quote from a speech delivered in another place by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten). He said. “ I shall not enter into that aspect of this question; but I shall say, because of the way our excise regulations are framed, there is no purer whisky in the world than Australian whisky. No whisky can be purer than ours, which is produced according to the standard set up by our excise regulations.” We have set a standard for Australian whisky, which is manufactured from pure malt. If any honorable senators are opposed to the use of whisky as a beverage, they should assist in making the duties as high as possible, and thus support the doctrine which they preach. If they will not do that, they must be reasonable and consistent and protect an industry which is employing hundreds of men and handling a primary product. I intend to support the item as it stands, because, in doing so, I shall give effect to my fiscal beliefs.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL ( South Australia) [8.46]. - I should not have spoken had not the Minister (Senator Crawford) shifted his ground from that which he took up this afternoon. In his earlier speech he told us that the extra duty was required, not for revenue purposes, but for the further protection of the industry. When he found that his case had been torn to pieces, he used the argument that the revenue would suffer if the extra duty were not agreed to. Of course, it will ; but it can afford to lose the amount involved. We know very well that the increase is not required for revenue purposes, and we have proved that the industry already has a protection which enables it to undersell the imported article by 3d. a nobbler and 38s. a case. Surely that is sufficient ! A higher duty would simply mean increased cost to the consumer. Why should we penalize the consumer ? A lot of rubbish was talked this afternoon. The issue was clouded - especially by Senator Lynch - in a multitude of words. The Government practically admit that they have no case, but they say to us, “ You have not established a case against the increase.” The onus is on the Government to show that the increase is justified. Even if that were not so, we have made out a very strong case against the extra duty.
– Is the industry in Australia in a flourishing state?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.No. That argument was used by Senator Lynch and the Minister. The Minister said that there was only a limited demandfor Australian whisky. The reason is that that whisky does not suit the palate of the public.
– The reason is the prejudice that exists against Australian goods.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.It is absurd to make that statement. Is there any prejudice against Australian brandy ?
– There was for a long while.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.There has not been since the time when it, reached its present quality. I know that Australians prefer the Australian brandy. I always ask for it.
– That has been the case only recently.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.No; I have called for Australian brandy from the time that I first used brandy. Does Senator Guthrie drink Australian whisky ?
– If the honorable senator will invite me, I shall do so at his expense.
– I have no doubt that the honorable senator would make a martyr of himself. I know what it is compared with Scotch whisky, and I shall not drink it. Neither will the public drink it. Since the increased duty has been collected, the only result has been a decrease in the total consumption of all whiskies of 75,000 gallons. That covers a period of four mouths.
– That is very good.
– I do not admit that it is. It might be a good thing from the point of view of a teetotaller like Senator Thomas if it meant that men who formerly drank whisky had become teetotallers. That has not happened ; they have merely been driven to drink something for which they can afford to pay, and which is not as good for them as whisky. Whisky is a better and safer drink than any other liquor.
– It. is better to drink whisky than petrol.
– I rose merely to ask honorable senators to approach this matter in a proper spirit, and to decline to vote for the increase unless it was shown to be necessary. We should simply be following the Government blindly if w’e voted for the increase when no case had been made out in favour of it.
– I have been handed the following letter which was written hy the secretary of the United Licensed Victuallers Association of the Commonwealth. Melbourne, to the Manager, Federal Distilleries Proprietary Limited: -
Federal Distilleries Proprietary Limited, Melbourne,
In answer to your inquiry re prices ruling in Brisbane for “nips” of whisky, I give you the following information: -
Prior to the last alteration in tariff there was no difference between the price of Australian or imported whisky, both being sold at 9d. After the alteration last September, the price of imported was raised Id. to 10d., the Australian remaining as it was. Owing to your firm’s representations to the United Licensed Victuallers Association that encouragement should be given to the Australian article, while still’ showing a good profit to the retailer, the Brisbane United Licensed Victuallers Association reduced the price of Australian whisky to Sd. per “’ nip “ as from May 24th last,
Secretary United Licensed Victuallers Association of the Commonwealth of Australia.
That settles the point as to- whether the letter which was read by Senator Ogden proposed an increase in the retail price of Australian whisky in Queensland, as he suggested it did, or, as I urged, a reduction.
– It has been suggested that the wine industry is similar to that connected with the distillation of whisky. I should like to place before the committee one or two facts with regard to the production of alcoholic beverages in other countries, so as to make plain the distinction that in my earlier speech upon this item, I endeavoured to draw between the two. France is a wine producing country : England and Scotland produce whisky and ale. It is the rarest thing to hear whisky asked for in France, and the quantity which is made available to the various hotelkeepers is limited, France desiring to stimulate the consumption of her brandy and wines. England and Scotland are the home of the manufacture of whisky. Whether I incorrectly described the whisky industry as “ artificial “ I do not know. Australia undoubtedly lends itself to the production of all classes of grapes, from which even the best quality of champagne could have been produced in the early life of the industry had we possessed the necessary skill and equipment. It has also been suggested, by way of criticism of some observations that fell from me, that a prejudice exists against Australian whisky. That is a. libel upon the public who drink whisky in this country. They do not drink imported whisky because they have a prejudice against the Austraiian product. The majority of those men pay some regard to the cost of their refreshments. That is peculiar not to one class in the community, but to ever)’ class which consumes these beverages. There is in this matter something more than mere prejudice. Doubtless some of the wines that have been exported from this country answered the chemical test that was applied by the Customs Department, although they might not have answered the test oftaste if it had been applied. These are subtle matters, with which I am not familiar. I do not consider that any case has been made out for an increase of duty. The inevitable result of such an increase will be the raising of the price of the Australian article. Local manufacturers would act. foolishly if they did not increase their prices.
Question - That the request (Senator Grant’s) be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Items 6, 46, 54, and 57 agreed to.
– I suggest that the deferred duty on rennet should come into operation at an earlier date, and, if possible, immediately the Senate has agreed to the item. The State Abattoirs at Homebush are making large quantities of this rennet of very excellent quality. Their product is being used very largely in a great many of the chief cheesemaking factories of the Commonwealth, and is winning their increasing favour to such an extent that they are giving it their unqualified approval as a high-class product, which is meeting their requirements as fully as would any imported rennet. The following table showing the value of imports should be of interest to honorable senators: -
Denmark, which is the largest supplier of imported rennet, is of little value to Australia as a consumer of our products. I have with me a number of copies of certificates from State agricultural departments and of letters from satisfied consumers in New South Wales and, Victoria, bearing out my statement that the rennet produced at Homebush is not anly equal to imported rennet, but is, if anything, superior to it. The Under-Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Stock in Brisbane describes it as -
A high quality rennet above standard in activity and much better than claimed by the makers on the label.
The Senior Dairy Instructor of New South Wales says -
Australian standard rennet is being used in the manufacture of probably over 50 per cent. of the cheese of New South Wales at present, and I venture to say that sales will be materially increased as this article becomes better known, provided it maintains its present good qualities.
The Chief Veterinary Inspector of Victoria states that the Government cheese expert has carried out experiments at several factories, and has reported that the Homebush rennet is equal to the best on the market at the present time. Holdenson and Nielson Fresh Food Proprietary Limited, of Melbourne, say -
We do not wish to have to purchase imported rennet now that we have started to use your commodity in our factories.
– What is the cost of it?
– It is just about the same as the imported.
– As a matter of fact, the local product is cheaper than the imported article.
– I was just about to point out that at first it cost about the same as the imported rennet; but its price was afterwards reduced consider ably, and this had the effect of bringing down the price of imported rennet. The activity of the local article is higher than that of the imported, and as it is manufactured from calf veils, it is a valuable addition to our local industries that promises to be even more valuable in the future. The Tariff Board and the Government already see the necessity for protecting it against competition from low-wage countries overseas, where the cost of production is not as high as it is here; but why they should recommend that the duty should not be imposed until the 1st January, 1927, I cannot understand. I think the Minister might agree to make the duty operative at some earlier date.
– If the honorable senator moves anamendment to make the date the 1st October, I will accept it.
– Is that the earliest date the Minister can offer ?
– That would mean a fairly long time before any degree of security could be given the local producer.
– The local producer cannot supply the whole of Australia’s requirements at the present time.
– The bulk of the cheese is made after October.
– That is so. I do not wish to be unreasonable. I accept the Minister’s suggestion in the hope that it will be acceptable to the producers of this rennet in the State I represent, and I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 84 by leaving out the words “ January 1927 “ and inserting in lieu thereof the words “ October 1926 “.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bequest agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
– I should like the Minister to explain this item.
– It refers to unground spices which are to be put on the free list. Under the 1921 tariff, item 96 c, unground spices for manufacturing purposes were, under departmental by-laws, admitted free from all countries. Practically the whole of the imported spices come from foreign countries. It is hoped that this reduction will have the effect of causing the spices to be ground in Australia, and of lessening household expenses. The free admission of these goods will not injure any Australian industry. The abolition of the duty will mean a reduction of revenue of £23,540. A bounty has been approved on the export of unground spices from Papua and New Guinea.
– What was the duty?
– Twopence a lb.
Item agreed to.
.- I move-
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 June 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1926/19260602_senate_10_113/>.