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Thursday, 28 July 1921

Senator RUSSELL (Victoria) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) . - In my opening remarks I expressed the belief that every member of the Commonwealth Parliament is in full sympathy with the desire to exclude all German and Japanese liquor, and surprise is expressed that I have not immediately accepted the amendment. As I say, I fully favour the exclusion of these foreign beers; but I emphasize the fact that this question has .to be considered. in conjunction "with the Excise Tariff. We have deemed' it necessary to give a preference of ls.- 9d. in favour of Australian brewers, and the proposal now before us is to give protection to the extent "of another 13. per gallon.

Senator Vardon - It is not proposed t> interfere with British preference.

Senator RUSSELL - Of course, if the price of beer were unduly )raised, too doubt the Tariff Board would take a hand. I do not wish for one moment to impute that there is any co-operation between brewers and members of this Parliament; but it is quite clear that the amendment does mean an additional ls. per gallon.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - As against foreign countries, not as against Britain.

Senator RUSSELL - Quite so; but instead of ls. 9d., which we have deemed sufficient protection, it ;is proposed to make the advantage 2s. 9d.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - As against the foreigner.

Senator RUSSELL - That represents a very large 'percentage increase on the protection which the Government deem sufficient. We have no desire to afford protection beyond what is fair and reasonable - that is, we wish to give sufficient protection to enable the manufacturer to successfully, and more than" successfully, compete with manufacturers overseas.-

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable senator not see that the desire is to have an almost prohibitive duty as against German lager? That is all that is intended.

Senator RUSSELL - Quite so; but, at the same time, it adds another ls. to the protection, which amounts to absolute prohibition.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Without such protection, Germany, with cheap bottles, cheap labour, cheap freight, and in the absence of an anti-dumping measure,, will « still be able to swamp the market.

Senator RUSSELL - Australia is not going to sleep while Germany is developing a trade in cheap beer and cheap freights- Australia must move with the world. If it is proposed to. increase the Excise by ls., for the sake of proportion

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - We are not suggesting that.

Senator RUSSELL - If not, it will mean 100 per cent., instead of 75 per cent., in favour of Australian brewers. That would give a still wider margin of protection.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - That is done throughout the Tariff.

Senator RUSSELL - If a duty of 10 per cent, on beer would give fair protection to Australian manufacturers - it would be almost equal to the prohibition of the imported article - we would be saying that, although 10 per cent, is sufficient, we are prepared to make it 25 per cent.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - As regards Germany, there would be no harm.

Senator RUSSELL - But we do not use a sledge hammer to drive in a tack. I am in agreement with honorable senators who desire to prohibit the importation of German beer, and to protect the local manufacturers; but the request goes beyond that. I do not think that the manufacturers in Australia have asked for additional protection.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - The brewers have not asked for any help.

Senator RUSSELL - Under the Tariff we had provided a protection of Is. 9d'., which is fair and reasonable, biit if the' request is carried the protection of the Australian manufacturer against the foreigner will be increased by Is. . per gallon. If honorable' senators desire' to retain- the same margin of protection to the Australianmanufacturer, the Excise- rate would have to be amended. If the Committee agree to the request, I may have to postpone the item' to enable consideration to be given, to the Excise duties. I believe it is the desire of the Committee to prohibit the importation' of line German product.

Senator Elliott - Then a little higher duty would not do any harm.

Senator RUSSELL - Perhaps not. If additional duties are imposed:, and; the brewers in Australia take advantage of the position,* the rales can' be considered' by the Tariff Board'.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) -if the' Board- proves that Australian brewers are charging too much,- the present duties' can be restored.

Senator RUSSELL - I believe the Board will have power to inquire and make recommendations in connexion with Excise duties, and if the- Committee carry the1 amendment the Excise fates will have to be reconsidered.

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