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Thursday, 22 October 1931

Mr LATHAM (Kooyong) .- The imposition of an excise duty on wine is a new departure. So far as I am aware uo such duty is imposed in any other wine-producing country. I suppose all countries collect excise duty on beer and spirits, and there must be some very general reason for the exemption of wine.

Mr Paterson - In the United Kingdom there is an excise duty on so-called " British wine ".

Mr LATHAM - Yes, and also, I think, on must; but I am referring to wine-producing countries. We have not yet seen the Wine Excise Duty Bill, but obviously it will impose a duty on wine, as such, instead of, as in the past, spirit used for fortifying wine. If the duty applies to all wine, the unfortified dry varieties, which are not so highly alcoholic as the fortified sweet wines, will be for the first time taxed, and the tendency will be to increase the price of them in relation to the price of the heavier brands, I would welcome any measure to increase the proportionate consumption of the lighter wines. It is questionable whether we are not taking a step in the wrong direction, having regard, not only to the ultimate interests of the wine industry, which I regard as secondary, but also to the interests of the people as a whole. Whether the effect will be what I fear, will depend on the scale of the duties, but any tax that would increase the price of the lighter wines and reduce the consumption of them against the stronger wines would be inadvisable. This clause merely applies all the general provisions of the Excise Act to wine; this obviously must increase the general expense of conducting the industry, but if an excise duty is to be imposed on wine, as distinct from fortifying spirit, some such provision is obviously necessary.

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