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Friday, 18 December 1914

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) . - I yield to no man in my desire to encourage the establishment of Australian industries, and I see no reason why the whisky-drinking public should not be supplied with Australian whisky. But I would be the last to suggest that encouragement should be afforded our whisky distillers to produce an inferior article. Everything that Australians manufacture should be of the very best quality. If this Bill represents an attempt to encourage our whisky distillers because they have not enjoyed a sufficientmeasure of protection, I say that the Government are going the wrong way to achieve their object. Is the matter one of such urgency that its consideration cannot wait until the Tariff is being dealt with in a general way ? I recollect that on a previous occasion the distillers of Australia were singled out for special consideration. Our agricultural implement makers and our distillers were selected for special treatment because they urged that if Parliament did not go to their rescue their industries would be strangled. Apparently the whisky distillers of the Commonwealth have only to make known their desire in order to assure that desire being granted. I say that they are entitled to no more consideration than is any other manufacturer. I agree with Senator Story that the measure represents an attempt to extend protection to our whisky distillers who are dissatisfied with the protection they at present receive. If we pass the Bill, the quality of the whisky produced in the Commonwealth will not be as good as it is supposed to be to-day. Seeing that we are nearing the festive season, when the weather is usually warmer than is that experienced during the winter months, and when whisky is not so largely consumed, it appears to me that this matter cannot bo one of extreme urgency. Before granting special consideration to our distillers at a time when the importation of spirits is more limited than it was a few months ago, we should consider the position very carefully. The matter, I repeat, is not one of urgency, and I see no reason why the Australian distiller should be singled out for special consideration. Seeing that the Bill will affect the consumption of Australian whisky, we ought to hesitate before we pass it.

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