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Tuesday, 19 July 1921

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) . - Senator Pratten has informed us that he is not speaking from the consumers' ' point of view, because he does not drink beer. I am at a loss to understand what his purpose is. First of all, he says that in the not distant future we shall be obliged to resume our trade relationship with Germany, and in view of that possibility he wishes to penalize Ger-' many by giving Great Britain a very much greater preference than is provided for in the present schedule. But he also tells us that the effect of the amendment will simply be to put an extra Id. per quart on imported German lager beer. Now, if Germany is likely to be such a f formidable opponent bf our local manufacturers of lager beer, she can do the extra Id. per quart bottle " standing on her head " in competition, so I do not see that anything is to be gained by the suggested amendment so far as the local industry is concerned. If there is any virtue in the reason the honorable senator has assigned for the amendment, why stop at Id. per quart bottle? "We shall have a substantial number of requests to make in connexion with the various Tariff items, and I, for one, am not going to be a party to loading up our message of requests with what appear to me to be unnecessary requests, or requests for requesting sake. In regard to the question of competition with locally-brewed lagers and beers, I am of opinion that the Australian industry has been very firmly established, and that the prices being charged to the consumer are very much in advance of what they were a few years ago, and beyond what occasion demands. If honorable senators care to study the balance-sheets of our local breweries, they will find that those breweries do not require very much in the way of protection. If anybody needs protection in regard to this particular industry it is the consumer. I have no doubt that people who prefer imported beers will be quite willing to purchase them, even if the duty upon them be increased by Id. per bottle or more. If Senator Pratten desires to extend a preference to Great Britain over the German product, and if he wishes to persist in penalizing our former enemy, he will go much farther than he has gone in the proposal which he has submitted.

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