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Thursday, 28 July 1921

Senator BENNY (South Australia) . - I move-

That the- Bouse of Representatives be requested to make' the duty, sub-item (a), paragraph (i), general, 33s.

I propose also to move for. an increase in the duty under the general Tariff to 33s. Australian brandy is under Excise supervision from the date of the conversion of the wine into brandy until it is two years old in wood, and the Excise on it is 26s. per proof gallon on brandy distilled from grape wine- under 40 degrees over.proof, and 27s. when the brandy is distilled at over 40 degrees overproof; hut this overproof brandy must contain at least 25- per cent, of the pot-still product, and the total of it mu'st he aged oyer two years in wood. In the case of French brandy there is no limit as to the strength of distillation, and the whole of it could be distilled at over 40 degrees overproof, and pay, 31s. per proof gallon Customs Tariff.

It will thus be seen that the actual preference given- to Australian brandy is only 4s> per proof gallon; and even then the local article must have at least 25 per cent, of pot-still spirit in it. 'Before the \Var the Excise on brandy was 10s. per proof gallon on the pot still, and lis. 'on blended, while the duty on imported brandy was 14s. From a percentage point of view, therefore, the protection has been very materially reduced, and those connected with the brandy industry of Australia are of opinion that the import duty should be at least 33s. per proof gallon under the general- Tariff. One very material factor that more than does away with the entire preference now being given is the want of security as regards the purity and age of the imported article, whether it comes from France, Spain, or any other brandy-producing country: Under the Spirits Act,, brandy is described as an article which moist be derived from grape wine, and nothing but such distillation may be sold as1 brandy in- Australia. Another provision- states that the purity and age of imported, spirits must be vouched for by an official in the country of origin' as- having been distilled wholly from grape wine. As a matter of fact, brandy is admitted from France on the ' certificate of the mayor of the local town. How can- the- local mayor know that brandy has been kept in wood for two years a3 our brandy must be kept ? He is probably simply handed a paper and asked to sign it, and very likely he may affix his signature without looking at the document, or without' taking the' trouble to ascertain that the brandy has been kept two years in1 wood. I am informed by authorities in Australia that brandy imported from France has been' described aS having been kept for two ' years , in wood, although chemists and experts have declared that it was absolutely impossible for it to have been sa kept for such a period. This matter affects very materially a big industry in- South, Australia, and in; practically all the southern States of the Commonwealth. We have ' in South Australia 760 returned soldiers settled on the River Murray. They grow a great many Bora Dilla grapes, which are used for making wine for distillation into brandy ; and if we do not take care their industry will be ruined by the competition of inferior and worthless spirit imported from France.

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