Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 22 November 1973
Page: 3767

Mr GILES (ANGAS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The honourable member does not think they have put Australia on the map?

Mr Birrell - That is right. I agree with him.

Mr GILES - I was referring to the honourable member for Hindmarsh who doubted my statement. If anyone has bludged more wine off the wine industry than has the honourable member for Hindmarsh, I would like to know who he is. One alternative in the event that the wineries are unable to find the funds is that they will go broke. The second is that they might be taken over. The third, which is probably the most important, is that these wineries will have to sell out the very stock from which their top quality wine is made. To quote an example - and I think some members of this House will understand the analogy that I am about to draw; I know that the Treasurer will - -Penfolds Grange Hermitage was to my knowledge last issued as a wine from the 1967 vintage. It has not been issued since. Penfolds winery will find that the very wine that it is trying to store from its vineyards above Adelaide and Magill will be the last stock they will be able to afford to hold. This ridiculous short-sighted section of this Bill does not make it possible in my opinion for wineries, particularly the small ones, to hang onto the very top quality stock which has made Australian wines favourably received not only overseas and in this country but also by some honourable members opposite, and I hope they damned well remember it.

If they find themselves short of funds and they have to sell off their high quality stock - and I hesitate to use this argument as I hesitated once before in a debate on wine excise - they may find that they will be forced to rescind contracts of 20 to 30 years standing with small wine grape growers. With great reticence I have succeeded in restraining myself from speaking on this matter since the Budget was delivered. I know that one firm has now cancelled contracts with 32 growers in my electorate who provide grapes for the purposes of brandy distillation. This is a direct result of revaluation of stock. If a firm such as this is squeezed for liquidity there is a very grave danger that in the event of a big yield of wine grapes in a year there will be an incapacity in the industry, due to this short sighted policy, of the little grape growers to sell their grapes.

Grapes are not like wheat or barley which are used to produce vodka and whisky. They are not like the sugar industry which produces rum. Those items are by-products of those industries. You cannot sell on any alternate market grapes which are grown for the purpose of making brandy. One can put grain even down an honourable member's gullet, probably with great advantage. One can do all sorts of things with sugar. But perpetually Federal government departments - not only under one Government - have succeeded in deluding themselves into believing that these levies on the wine industry are imposed on the big fat wineries. Very rarely does this happen. Frequently the onus is placed on the little people who have nowhere near an income of $105 which is the average wekly income in this nation today.

Now I would like to refer to what the Coombs report had to say about this area of taxation. Not only in this instance did the Government accept the recommendation of the Coombs report; in this case it went one better. The Coombs report says:

Upward revision of the rninimum values laid down under Section 31a would yield savings to revenue which, obviously, would vary depending upon the extent of the adjustment involved. Alternatively, Section 31a might be repealed . . .

That is what the Government decided to do. In this case it has gone one better than the Coombs report recommendation.

Let us look at what has been said elsewhere in relation to this matter. I have a letter which was distributed throughout my electorate prior to the last Federal election. This letter was distributed to wine grape growers, to distilleries and to wineries. It was a fund raising scheme concocted by the Premier of South Australia, not, I might say a man of my political colour but a man of the political colour of honourable members opposite. The Premier said:

The future of the wine industry has become an issue at the forthcoming Federal elections.

The Australian Labor Party believes, and its Federal Executive has stated, that the only solution that will guarantee continued prosperity for the wine industry and the many thousands of growers who supply it is complete abolition of the excise and its non replacement by a sales tax or any other imposition.

I seek your financial support for the ALP campaign for the Federal elections.

He went on to develop the alternative methods of donating to the Labor Party. He said:

.   . Pledge a donation to be paid only after the Federal Leader of the Australian Labor Party, Mr Gough Whitlam, has given an unequivocal assurance during the campaign that a government led by him will abolish the excise and not replace it with a sales tax or any other imposition.

Whitlam said it will not be replaced by any other imposition. Is this a serious imposition? Can it be looked on as an imposition? What do honourable members think about that? It seems to me that there has been a bit of political chicanery, if I might say so, in relation to that- I do not ask honourable members opposite to believe me or to believe anyone else but I would ask them to listen to what was said by the Premier of South Australia on the same issue. The Premier of South Australia said that Federal Budget tax measures against the wine industry were worse than those imposed by the last Liberal Government with wine excise.

Mr Cooke - What does the Minister for Labour say about that?

Mr GILES - What does Whitlam say about that? He is the one who has been caught with his pants down. He is the one whom the Premier of South Australia has dismissed as a potent political force because of his chicanery. He is the one whom the Premier of South Australia will not wear today because his word cannot be trusted. That is why. I speak here for hundreds of grape growers who believe the same thing.

I would like the Prime Minister to be here for once to answer some of the allegations that he himself has started; I did not. The whole situation is despicable for the people I represent. If they cannot believe in the Prime Minister of the land or any of his Ministers, whom can they believe in?

Mr Birrell - Not you.

Mr GILES - 'Very funny. The people in my electorate who are listening tonight will be delighted with that interjection. I do not think I have time in the 3 minutes left to me to go over, as I intended to do tonight, the history of the attempts by governments to tax the wine industry. The only comment I have to make in relation to it is this: It is very easy for city-based people to sit on their backsides, as Dr Coombs does-

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Hey, that is not parliamentary.

Mr GILES - I know that the Minister cannot sit on his because he is uncomfortable. People cannot sit on their backsides and say that this industry can stand some taxation or that industry cannot. The Grant report made very plain to the grape growing fraternity of this country, and I hope to one or two others which may have had time to scan through it lightly, that you cannot .under any circumstances over-tax these industries.

I have a marvellous quotation from a meeting which was held about 3 years ago frankly to crucify the honourable member for Angas. Several interesting things happened at the meeting, one of which I will mention in the two minutes left to me. This is an extract from the speech I made at that time when I had SOO people against me. I said that there was one condition on which I would join the Labor Party, in terms of its past exercise in trying to vote against wine excise which, by the way with 50 per cent off, would have been a damned sight better than what is levied on the industry today. That is a quotation from Mr Dunstan. At the .meeting I said:

I am distrustful of the Labor Party's intentions. I rather feel myself that they are in favour of the workman's best friend, beer, and will have scant regard and sympathy for wine grape growers or the Wine Industry.

At the time I was booed. I do not believe that I would be booed today because this legislation, if I might say so again, on 6 points is the worst bit of discrimination in my memory that has ever been brought to bear on the wine industry. I say with a great deal of emphasis and sincerity that it is a rotten deal for that industry.

Suggest corrections