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Friday, 18 December 1914

Senator RUSSELL (Victoria) (Assistant Minister) . - It is quite possible that when the standard was fixed at 35 per cent. an injustice was done to an Australian industry. We take it that that really was done at the time, although done with the best of intentions. Senator Millen, I am sure, will not mind me quoting a memorandum from the experts of the Department, who, I tate it, are not interested other than to see the development of Australian industries -

Thu raising of the strength of distillation in the case of harley malt whisky from 35 per cent, to 45 per cent, over-proof is necessary, in order to permit of the production of a whisky which would mature within a reasonable time.

In the case of a whisky distilled at a strength of 35 per cent, over-proof, the product contains an excess of by-products such ad fusel oil, with the result that a much longer period than that provided in the Tariff item, viz., two years, would bc required to produce a potable spirit, and even then it is doubtful if the spirit could he used for other than blending purposes.

I think that most honorable senators who believe in Australian industries want to see Australian whisky put to a better purpose than that of blending with other whiskies -

Distillation at a strength approaching 45 per cent, over-proof permits of the elimination of the crude by-products and of the production of a cleaner spirit, which will mature within a period of two years.

It is considered that with the distillation strength restricted to 35 per cent, over-proof it is practically impossible to produce a whisky which could be sold to the public under its proper description; such whiskies would he usable only for blending with other whiskies.

If the distillation strength is raised to 45 per cent, over-proof there is reason to believe that local distillers would be able to produce a whisky which could be sold on its own merits.

We can produce whisky, and the desire of the Government and the Department is that a preference should be given to Australian whisky, and that it should not be used merely as an appendage to imported brands. I can quite understand the view taken by Senator Millen. It worried me a good deal when I first saw the Bill; but, after inquiry among the experts of the Department, I considered that the reasons they gave to me were quite sound.

Senator Millen - This is a case where the Minister should have invited the Senate to make a practical examination.

Senator RUSSELL - I have no objection to inviting honorable senators to test the article on the adjournment of the Senate for a Merry Christmas.

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