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Thursday, 28 July 1921

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) . - I think the Minister overlooks the fact, when comparing the cost of German lager with Australian lager, that the cost of the bottles largely enters into the question. The cost of a bottle in Germany is about one-third of the cost of manufacturing one in Australia.

Senator Crawford - Is there not a duty on bottles?

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - There is a small duty. Prior to the war, Germany more or less swamped the market here with* lager beer. The Minister has said that a comparatively small quantity was coming in, but for the year 1913 the importations amounted to 815,000 gallons.

Senator Russell - I said so! I said that German beer was 20 per cent, of the imports.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Well, we wish the people of Australia to make up that 20 per cent, with Australian and British beer. The prices of beer, if the duty be increased, will not be raised unduly, because there will still be the competition of the British beer, the duty on which it is not proposed to increase. Furthermore, there is local competition, for, as I have said, there are seventy-two breweries in Australia. There is no collusion amongst those breweries, which give a vast amount of employment to bottlemakers, hop-growers, barley-growers, and others, and contribute over £5,000,000 per annum to the Excise revenue. If German and other foreign lagers are excluded, there will be the further advantage that the consumer will be supplied with a less spirituous and purer article than we have ever had from Germany. I cannot see why Senator Russell does not agree, not only with the sentiments expressed, but with the practical argument that the proposed increase is against foreign countries like Germany and Japan. It is of no use saying that lager beer does not come from the latter country. There may not have been much imported lately, but I happen to be connected1 with a company which acted as agents for Japanese lager. The Australian brewing industry is one which might be given the benefit of a little increase in the Tariff with harm to nobody and a good, deal of good in many directions. °

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