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Wednesday, 15 August 1906

Mr HUTCHISON (Hindmarsh) . - I wish to move -

That before the word " materials," line 45, the word " approved " be inserted, and that after the word "materials," line "45, the words " not including spirit made from molasses," be inserted.

If honorable members will look at the report of the Commission, they will find the following statement: -

With reference to the constituents of blended brandy, we are of opinion that no spirit should be regarded as a blended brandy unless it contains 25 per cent, of true brandy, the product of grape wine, the result of a separate distillation at a low alcoholic strength; the balance may be patent-still spirits from any approved material.

Honorable members will see that the Commission recommend that spirits used for blending shall be made from approved material. They apparently came to the conclusion that certain kinds of spirits should not be used for blending with brandy. I fully agree with that view. No doubt the Commissioners had it in their minds to preclude the use of cheap spirit made from molasses. I am afraid that if manufacturers were permitted to use molasses spirit for blending purposes the distillers of pure brandy in South Australia would be entirely shut out of the market. Spirit made from molasses should be used only for making rum, or for the purposes of methylization In the United States the bulk of the molasses spirit is methylated, and nearly onehalf of the molasses spirit produced in the Commonwealth last year was similarly treated.

Mr Fisher - That was not because it was bad spirit.

Mr HUTCHISON - No, but because it could be more profitably used for industrial purposes. If we were to permit the use of molasses spirit for blending purposes, pure grape brandy would be entirely shut out of the market. ' The manufacturers of brandy would have to buy cheap spirit for blending purposes, and would have to turn out an inferior article. In fact it would destroy the trade entirely, and that is the reason why I propose to exclude molasses. It would mean not only that the manufacturers would have to sell inferior brandy, but that a very large acreage which is under vines at the present time would be rendered practically valueless. It would mean the ruin of some hundreds of vignerons, and great injury would be done to thousands who are engaged in the industry. I should like to point out to honorable members that we have not merely to consider the persons who are actually employed in the processes of distillation. The industry indirectly employs many hundreds of growers, harrowers, pickers, and carters.

Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - The growers get only about £2 per ton for their grapes, so that they would not suffer any very serious loss.

Mr HUTCHISON - They would suffer a verv serious loss. The honorable member must recollect that this trade is capable of enormous expansion. Personally I do not wish to see saw spirit excluded other than molasses. Under my proposal in the absence of the word " approved," it would be open to distillers to make use of potato spirit. I find that Mr. Cleland, in his evidence before the Tariff Commission,, stated that he could purchase brandy f .o.b. in Europe for 7s. per dozen bottles.

Sir John Quick - The honorable member is referring to imported brandy.

Mr HUTCHISON - Exactly. My point is that if brandy can be made in any part of Europe for that amount it can be produced in Australia. But under my proposal the Minister would see that spirit of that character did not go into consumption.

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