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Thursday, 4 May 1961


Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) . - Mr. Deputy Speaker, we have just heard from the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) a speech of delicate bouquet, generous body and brilliant lustre. I hope that I will not be misunderstood if I describe it as a better than average dry red. I am glad that this bill is receiving commendation from both sides of the House, because I am sure that, although it is not a bill of tremendous importance, it nevertheless deserves commendation as a constructive attempt to help a very worthwhile Australian industry. We have no need to be ashamed of our Australian wines. They are up to world standard and we, who are guilty of drinking them, know this. Here I follow the honorable member for Parkes in saying that it is a pity that they do not receive more identifying recognition. It is a pity that sometimes they are blended without the blenders saying what has happened to them. Very often they may be sold under French or other labels, and people who drink them with the proud relish which the honorable member described as, I think, " snob value ", may not always realize that they are in point of fact drinking Australian wine. This is a pity, and this bill and the organization to be established and continued by it will help to cure that state of affairs.

Unfortunately, the amount of good wine that we have for export is likely to be limited by two factors - first, by the increasing wine consumption in Australia, which one can well understand, because it is not only natural but is also right that our best vintages should be consumed on the home market; and also because, unfortunately, many growers are tending to get rid of their table wine grapes in favour of a brandy grape. This is a pity, and one hopes that a bill of this kind will help to reverse this tendency in the production of Australian wine.

My friend, the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean), is an authority on the very fine wines which come from the Hunter River valley, for example, and has frequently helped me to appreciate them. He is never tired of pushing them. Fine wines come also from South Australia, the home State of my friend, the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer), who has some interest in the Australian wine industry. Australia's wines need no advertisement here. Unfortunately, they do need advertising in London. I hope that not only in London but also in New York the kind of promotion that is envisaged in this bill will be adopted. I know that if this Government gives a lead, the industry will follow that lead and cooperate, and that is as it should be.

I want to make one point about a matter on which I differ - I hope in the most friendly way - from my friend, the honorable member for Parkes. I refer to the naming of wines. I believe that wines should carry a label which identifies them. I want all Australian wines sold abroad to be labelled clearly and pushed as produce of Australia. I want them to be labelled clearly and distinctively with their typename, their place name and their vintage name. The English people have a right to use the ordinary English word in describing a wine sold in> the United Kingdom, when that is the only word with which to describe it. I noticed, for example, that the honorable member for Parkes used - quite rightly - the word- " sherry " continually to describe that kind: of Australian wine. He did this because there is no other word in the English language which describes that kind of wine.

Wines are labelled with the descriptions " port " or " sherry ", for example, which are derived from place names. In all instances, the places referred to are not the places where these wines originated. They may be places where these wines were produced so well as to cause the place names to be used as a description of the wines concerned. This is very similar to the case of muslin. Do we think that only the merchants of Mosul should be entitled to use the word " muslin " as a description of their products? Do we think that nobody except the natives of Tangiers should be able to use the word " tangerine " to describe a kind of small orange? Do we need the permission of both Nationalist China and Communist China, or, indeed, of either, if we wish to describe a china article by the use of the word " china "? Of course we do not. So why cannot we use the ordinary type descriptions of "port", "sherry", " champagne " and the like in describing our own products in a market in which no other English words are used to describe these wines? This matter has come to the forefront as a result of a case which was decided in England only a few months ago. I think it was commonly known as the Spanish champagne case.

I feel that Australians have a right to insist on the use of the ordinary English word as a description of their product which is on sale in the English market. If the English law, in its present form, does not permit this, we have, I think, a right - and, indeed, a duty - to ask the United Kingdom Parliament to make the necessary changes in that law. After all, we in Australia are subjects of the Queen. We have a right to use the Queen's English in describing our products in the English market, and I think that we have some claim on the United Kingdom Parliament in this respect. We are entitled to ask it to ensure this right to us. It is a natural right.

I do not mean to suggest for one moment that place names should be appropriated to Australian use. If a word has not passed into the normal English vocabulary, we have no right to use it. If there is an English word to describe wine of a certain type, we do not want to use another description which is a place name. All that we want is the right to use an ordinary English word, which has passed into English usage, in describing our products in the British market where there is no other word by which to describe wine of the particular type. I do not propose for one moment that we should not label our wines clearly according to their origin. We do not want to pass off our wine as French or German wine. It does not need such a subterfuge. Our wine is good enough to stand on its own feet, as it were, and make its own reputation.


Mr Cope - It sometimes makes it very difficult for a person to stand on his own feet.


Mr WENTWORTH - It could even occasion the honorable member difficulty in sitting in his own seat.

That is the only point I wish to make, Sir. This is a thoroughly commendable bill. I think that the Government should follow it up by making representations to the United Kingdom authorities to ensure for Australians, who speak the Queen's English, the right to use the normally-used English word in describing their product which is sold in the English market. 1 agree with the honorable member for Parkes, of course, that we should identify our wines with a place name and a vintage name. Above all, we should endeavour to keep their Australian identity in selling them overseas.







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