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Friday, 2 September 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - In effect, the Minister (Senator Pearce) stated that the Australian chemists could not be relied upon to act fairly in this matter. I do not know what is wrong with the chemists in the Commonwealth. They are trusted in other countries, where it is more necessary to exercise closer supervision than it is here.

Senator Pearce - They are under the eyes of Customs officials.

Senator LYNCH - We have not prohibition here, and there is less necessity to suspect thebona fides of chemists than there is in, say, America. The rate has been increased from 13s. in 1913 to 25s. This is really a tax upon the sick and infirm section of the community. We are all likely to develop sickness, and as most people are not opulent, a tax of 25s. per gallon must bear severely upon those who fall by the wayside. I quite realize that public hospitals receive special treatment; but they are the only medium through which the community can be reached. Many have to depend upon the chemist's shop around the corner, and, in most instances, there is an hotel on the other corner, where whisky can be obtained for 9d. a nobbier.

Senator Pearce - A patient would not consume a gallon of spirit in medicine in ten years.

Senator LYNCH - There seems to be a fear on the part of the Department that chemists will surreptitiously substitute this spirit for whisky. A man is not likely to go to a chemist's shop for a drink when he can get a cheaper and better glass of whisky at a neighbouring hotel.

Senator Pearce - If the rate of the Excise duty be reduced a man will be able to get his spirits cheaper at a chemises shop.

Senator LYNCH - Yes. If he prefers the chemist's whisky to a good glass of whisky obtainable at an hotel. This duty has been nearly doubled during the last few years. It is now 25s. per proof gallon, whereas in Great Britain it is 14s. 9d. per proof gallon. In New Zealand, for 60 over-proof, the duty is 20s. per gallon, so that the tax on this commodity in the sister Dominion is very much below that which we are imposing.

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