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Thursday, 28 July 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I wish to draw attention to the difference between the British and Australian legislation governing the consumption of imported spirit, and my remarks will probably support the contention of Senator Benny that immature spirit comes to Australia from overseas. I am informed, on undoubted authority, that the facts which I shall relate apply to whisky, and I assume that the Excise laws aud regulations governing the importation and distribution of whisky apply also to brandy. Australia does a large export trade in whisky to Great Britain, and in the last financial year exported over i200,000 gallons of proof whisky, mostly to Scotland; Much of this whisky, I believe, returns to us as good old Scotch whisky. Now, -the Imperial Immature Spirits Act, which was passed during the year, and is still in force - and I do not think is likely to bc repealed - prohibits the liberation for consumption in Great Britain of whisky of British origin and of imported whisky unless it is proved to have been stored in wood for at least three years. However we may view the liquor traffic, and I view it from the stand-point' of temperance, we must admit that if persons will drink spirits, the provision which I have mentioned must be beneficial to the public health. The Commonwealth Spirits Act requires that spirit sold for consumption, whether made in Australia or imported, id usb be not less than two years old. Thus, all . spirits consumed in Great Britain, including that imported from Australia, must have been three years in the wood before it can be consumed^ although spirit sent here from France and elsewhere need be only two years old to enter into competition with the locallymade article. Naturally, French brandy makers would prefer to send their spirit to Australia, where it can be sold when only two years old, to sending it to Great Britain where it must be three years old, and thus we must get a large quantity of immature spirit from overseas. However, as this matter appertains more to the subject of Excise, I shall defer ' any extended remarks upon it until the Committee is dealing with the Excise schedule; but I trust that the Minister will note what I have said.

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