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Thursday, 16 August 1906

Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) . - I approve of the action taken by the Government in regard to brandy made from pure grape spirit, for only that which is so made can be properly described as brandy. I hold, however, that it is an anomaly to differentiate between blended brandy consisting of a mixture of grape spirit and grain spirit, and that which consists of a mixture of grape spirit and molasses spirit. A few honorable members, who are ignorant of the facts, have endeavoured to show that spirit made from molasses is inferior to any other spirit; but any one who knows anything of distillation will admit that one highly rectified spirit is practically as good as another. It has been said, for example, that potato spirit is not as good as spirit derived from certain other materials ; but this is entirely due to prejudice. Before the distillation of. spirit from molasses, potato spirit was regarded as the cheapest that could be produced, and doubtless that led to the people viewing it as an inferior article. A few representatives of the " cockies " have become imbued with the idea that if we encourage the manufacture of grain spirit we shall practically emancipate the " cocky" farmers, and place them in a better position than they have ever occupied. These honorable members hold themselves up to ridicule when they declare that in the production of blended brandy grain spirit alone should be mixed with wine spirit. Whilst I fully appreciate the contention that brandy should be made from ' wine spirit, I fail to ses why we should differentiate between molasses spirit and grain spirit. The one is as good as the other. The Constitution does not allow us to differentiate between the States, but because New South Wales and Queensland can produce a very cheap spirit, a few representatives of other States are raising an outcry against its use. The complaint against the use of cheap molasses spirit has come for the most part from members of the free-trade party. They are always ready to support the free admission of cheap goods from China, Japan, and other countries, yet they are highly indignant when it is proposed that a cheap and wholesome local production shall be allowed to go into consumption. The honorable member for Coolgardie, who is among those who object to the use of molasses spirit, has always something to say against Queensland. He is constantly putting questions to Ministers in regard to the sugar industry of that State.

Mr Mahon - It is costing Us something like ,£1,000,000 per annum for Australia.

Mr DAVID THOMSON (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) - That statement only illustrates the ignorance of the honorable member so far as these questions are concerned. If it could be shown that grain spirit is better than molasses spirit, I should certainly favour the Government proposal ; but it is well known that there is no difference between highly-rectified grain and molasses spirits. Reference has been made to " rum brand v." but those who have been endeavouring in this way to play upon words are evidently not aware that the process of making rum, is altogether different from that followe'd in the manufacture of brandy. I intend to support the proposal of the Commission.

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