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Tuesday, 28 August 1973
Page: 428


Mr EDWARDS (Berowra) - While these Bills are mainly machinery measures, I rise to support the remarks of my colleague, the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O'Keefe). The reference by the honourable member for Darling (Mr Fitzpatrick) to the necessity for the reallocation of resources seems to me to have very little relevance. The fact is that the provisions of the recent Budget provide the wine growers, especially the small ones, and the Australian Wine Board with some problems. Those provisions were the increase in spirit excise applied to brandy - the loss of the duty differential which has long been accorded to brandy - as well as the changes proposed for the valuation of wine stocks.

Beyond supporting the earlier remarks of my colleague, it is true that the principal content of these Bills is the conversion to metric measure of the definitions of 'winery' and distillery' for the purpose of the several Acts specified in the Bill. In the case of the Wine Grapes Charges Bill, where the minimum annual grape intake to determine whether an establishment is liable for the charge is at present 10 tons, this is to be changed to the nearest metric equivalent, namely 10 tonnes. The maximum charges provided for per ton in the Act I understand will remain unchanged per tonne. As a tonne is some 2,204 lb as compared with the 2,240 lb of the ton, the maximum levy per lb will thereby be increased by about li per cent. The levy is not a price, but this is perhaps illustrative of how, if vigilance is not applied, metric conversion can lead to upward creep.

In the case of the Wine Overseas Marketing Bill, as the honourable member for Darling said, for the purpose of a poll and voting the definition is changed from the present relevant annual grape intake of 25 tons to 25 tonnes. As the wine industry and for that matter its products are not subjects with which I am overly familiar, I am curious about the differential in magnitude in the qualifications provided for in the 2 Bills. I gather that the lesser quantity specified in the Wine Grapes Charges Bill - the charge finances the administrative and marketing activities of the Australian Wine Board - is designed to spread as widely as possible the burden of financing the Board. It seems curious to me that where an establishment is liable to a financial obligation it is not thereby qualified to participate in a poll, the apparent purpose of which is to determine the issue of whether the Wine Board - the very reason for the charge - should continue in operation. Perhaps the Minister for Northern Development (Dr Patterson) might make reference to this point in his reply. I conclude by saying that as these are broadly machinery Bills to effect metric conversion, the Opposition supports them.







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