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Thursday, 22 October 1931


Mr JONES (Indi) .- I represent an electorate which produces a fair quantity of good wine. Messrs. Gunn and Gollan, who spent a considerable time in inquiring into the conditions in the wine industry, presented a voluminous and informative report, and I assume that this measure will provide the machinery for giving effect to some of their recommendations. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) complained that the growers have not been consulted, but I take it that Messrs. Gunn and Gollan consulted the growers in every State visited by them.


Mr Beasley - He referred particularly to the growers in South Australia.


Mr JONES - I take it that Messrs. Gunn and Gollan conferred with the growers in the various States, as the members of the Select Committee on the Tobacco Industry conferred with the tobacco-growers, and that they took evidence from all angles, in order to get the views of the growers, the manufacturers and the consumers. The honorable member failed to give a single reason why the growers should not be registered. Clause 7 of the bill provides that no person shall produce grapes for use in the manufacture of wine unless he is registered. That does not mean that a person who has a. few vines at his back door must register. The registration of the growers of grapes intended for use in the manufacture of wine would be helpful to the statistiscians and for record purposes. Owing to the registration of tobacco-growers, I was recently able to ascertain from the Customs Department, by return post, the names and number of tobacco-growers throughout Australia. The registration of grape-growers will cost them nothing, aud the information obtained will be useful in considering any need for limitation of the acreage under crop. It costs a gold producer nothing to register his name, but if a man is not registered he cannot participate in the gold bounty. A tobaccogrower, even though he may not manufacture tobacco, is subject to a penalty for non-registration. There is more to be said in favour of compulsory registration than against it.

I was delighted with the homily of the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) regarding the manufacture of wine. If he had been accustomed to sampling the finished product, he might have spoken of sparkling wines, and of "beading bubbles winking at the brim". He said that at the present time there was little incentive for the blending of wines, but I claim that there is much incentive in that direction, because the excise duty is on the fortified spirit content of wine. The practice has grown of late years for some to blend dry wine with sweet wine, and sell the product as sweet wine, in order to evade the excise duty. If a flat rate of excise duty were imposed on all wine, there would be no inducement to blend in that way.

The honorable member for Angas complained of the penalties contained in. the bill, but I do not consider them to be too high. Heavy penalties act as a deterrent to those who may be disposed to transgress the law. ' If the penalties were nominal, excise officers would probably have to deal with many complaints. [Quorum formed.] I remind the honorable member for Angas that some of the grape-growers are also winemakers. If he had his way, the grower who is also a wine-maker would have to bo licensed as a winemaker, but he would not have to register as a grower of grapes for use in the manufacture of wine, and that would create an anomaly. There is in my electorate a vine-growers' association, which is represented on the Victorian Viticultural Council, and I received advice only to-day that two delegates from the association were attending a meeting of the council in Melbourne. It is clear, therefore, that the growers had a say in these matters. The growers in my area are not prone to indulge in destructive criti- cism. They are appreciative of the efforts of this Government on their behalf, and recognize what it has achieved for the wine industry. Some time ago, the Minister for Trade and Customs accompanied me to Rutherglen, so that he might obtain a first-hand knowledge of the problems confronting the wine industry. It became evident to him that many of those engaged in it were in a desperate plight. The previous Government had) reduced the export bounty on wine from ls. 9d. to ls. 3d. a gallon, and it did not then pay the wine-makers to export. Their cellars were full of wine, and they could not buy any more grapes from the growers. Many hundreds of returned soldiers, who had been encouraged to go on the land to grow grapes, were faced with the prospect of seeing their crops rotting on the vines. The Minister immediately restored the bounty of ls. 9d. a gallon, with the result that the wine-makers cleared their cellars, and were able to buy the grapes which the growers had to offer. The Government is deserving of credit for that. To-day I received a communication from the Vine-growers Association at Rutherglen, extending a cordial invitation to the Minister for Markets to visit them, so that they might express their appreciation to him for his work in bringing about the trade agreement between Australia and Canada. I hope that the Minister will be able to accept the invitation, and, if he does, I am sure the vine-growers will welcome him warmly. I am convinced that this measure will simplify the working of the Excise Act, and will safeguard the revenue.







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