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Wednesday, 15 August 1906

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I have listened with very great attention to the Chairman of the Commission, from whom I should like to hear some arguments in favour of the recommendations of the Commission.

Sir John Quick - The honorable member will find them in the report.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes; but some very strong reasons can be urged in favour of a greater differentiation than is. per gallon between pure grape spirit and the blended article. I take it that we are all anxious to encourage the drinking cf Australian wines in preference to more ardent spirits. I should be willing to do this at any time, and should think I was promoting the greater temperance and morality of the people as a whole. I think it would be an excellent thing if we could substitute light Australian wine for the ardent spirits new consumed by the people, and I should regard any movement in that direction as of a distinctly temperance character. I should like to make a quotation from a statement contained in a letter written by Penfold and Company, of South Australia.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I suppose that a representative of the firm gave evidence before the Commission ?

Sir John Quick - Yes.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Here is the case which 'Messrs. Penfold and Company put. They point out that it takes five gallons of sound wine to make one gallon of. grape brandy.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Did they not make those representations to the Commission?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not know whether they did or not. They put a case which seems to me to require an answer. Thev say that the cost from the still is at least 4s. per gallon. They further say -

The cost of molasses spirit is at present about lod. a gallon. Thus four gallons of pure grape brandy would cost 16s. to produce, whilst three gallons of molasses spirit and one gallon of grape brandy would cost 6s. 6d. The difference in Excise on the four gallons is only 4s. in favour of true brandy, leaving a margin of 5s. 6d. on the adulterated article, which means is. 43d. a gallon.

Mr McCay - Will they not- obtain a higher price for the pure article?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am afraid not. I do not think that the prices as between these articles will be differentiated at all. If we are to make any movement, I think it should be in the direction of encouraging the production of pure grape brandy in. preference to that of the more ardent and fiery spirit.

Mr Deakin - Of which only 25 per cent, need consist of grape spirit.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Exactly. Ihave already pointed out that there is a differentiation in favour of the blended article as against the pure article of is. 4 1/2 d. per gallon., or 5& 6d. upon a four-gallon cask. That is a case which ought to be susceptible of answer by the members of the Commission. I am aware that it is contended that the pure brandy will have a label attached to it which will give it a commercial advantage as against the blended article; but I doubt whether any label which can be attached tothe pure article will command a sufficient price to compensate for the difference towhich I have referred. So far as I am concerned that is about the only point connected with the recommendations of the Tariff Commission in regard to the spirit duties which seems to be open to criticism. But I cannot shut my eyes to this great' difference in favour of the inferior, or adulterated or blended article.

Sir John Quick - The honorable member cannot call it an "adulterated" article.

Mr. -JOSEPHCOOK.- The pure grape spirit is adulterated by the addition of something which is not pure.

Mr McCay - The honorable membermight as well say that a piece of bread' is adulterated because it has butter uponit.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Not at all. I speak of adulteration only in. the sensethat the blended article differs from, and' is not so good as, the pure grape brandy. I believe that the best medical evidence is to the effect that there is no spirit which is as good as the pure grape brandy spirit.

Mr Page - But according to his bread and butter argument, the honorable and' learned member for Corinella considers that molasses spirit is as good as grape spirit.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am not anadept iri these matters, but I am very anxious to extend a preference - if we must offer any preferences at all - to pure grace brandy as against the more ardentand fiery spirit. I would extend it a preference in the interests of the. morality of' the people, ' and of the greater diffusion of temperance, and for the purpose of in- suring fair play between the distillers of these various compounds. I shall be bound to support the Government proposal unless the members of the Tariff Commission can answer the case which I have put, and which seems t<5 me to extend a preference to the adulterated article as against pure grape brandy.

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