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Wednesday, 2 June 1926


Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - Before the vote is taken it is just as well to clear away the misapprehension under which honorable senators appear to be labouring. Senator Ogden, from whom one would expect better things, chided me on my attitude towards this item, and said that increased duties, imposed for protective duty purposes could not also mean an increase in revenue. In theory, he is right. In the normal course of events, an increase in protective duties should mean a decrease in revenue owing to the expansion of local industry. I always endeavour to square theory with practice, and I am bound to say that, in certain cases, theory does not square with practice. For the purpose of enlightening Senator Ogden I remind him of what happened under the Massy Greene 1920-21 tariff, which may be described as the high-water mark of protection in this country. Before the 1920-21 tariff was passed, the revenue received under this item, was £13,000,000, but, in 1920-21, it jumped to £20,000,000. If Senator Ogden's contention is correct, it should have declined. In 1921-22 it was £17,000,000, which shows a decline of £3,000,000, but, in 1922-23, it was £22,000,000; in 1923-24, £25,000,000; and, in 1924-25, £26,000,000. It will therefore be seen that, from 1918-19, it jumped from £13,000,000 to £26,000,000.


Senator McLachlan - The exchange rates were partly responsible.


Senator LYNCH - During portion of that period they were in our favour.


Senator McLachlan - That is not so.


Senator LYNCH - They turned against us, it is true, until, finally, owing to the action taken by this Parliament, the position was adjusted. It will, therefore, be seen that it is foolish for Senator Ogden to suggest that the imposition of higher duties must necessarily lead to a reduction in revenue. The duties were raised, and up went the revenue from £13,000,000 to £26,000,000. I am supporting the increased duties on imported whisky because I am anxious to protect an industry which has not received fair treatment in the past, as is shown by the Minister's statement that the protection afforded was equivalent to only 16 per cent, or 17 per cent. No honorable senator has challenged the statement that an additional duty of 5s. per gallon will only give protection to the extent of 37 per cent. It is not right to use the importations over a few months as a basis of comparison. I am also supporting the proposal because I consider it right to afford additional protection, particularly when greater assistance is being given to other manufacturers. In giving additional protection to the spirit industry, I am not affecting the productive energy of this country.


Senator Ogden - Why further protect a spirit which is already able to undersell the imported product?


Senator LYNCH - The action of Australian distillers in underselling is immediately converted into an argument against them. If the Australian distillers increased their rates, they would, I suppose, have the sympathy of Senator Ogden, but because they have declined to do so, and are giving consumers a fair deal, he is opposing them. The Australian distillers are placing pure whisky before consumers at a price about 25 per cent. below that charged for the imported spirit. Is that a reason why they should be penalized? I remember hearing of Joshua's whisky long before the days of Federation, when those concerned in its manufacture were faced with a very difficult proposition. They had to contend with numerous difficulties.


Senator Thompson - Because the public would not have it.


Senator LYNCH - No. The honorable senator and other old Conservatives have the taste of their forefathers, and are unable to recognize the merits of a good product. It is all a question of habit.


Senator Sir Henry Barwell - Does the honorable senator drink Australian whisky ?


Senator LYNCH - I drink anything. With whisky, it is all a matter of custom.


Senator McLachlan - Why do so many people refuse to drink Australian whisky ?


Senator LYNCH - We should make consumers realize that it is to their advantage to change their taste, and when they do they will ask for only Australian spirit. Australians are not wine drinkers, because geographical, national and sentimental reasons have operated and have developed an antipathy and antagonism to wine. When I first visited Western Australia I had to drink condensed water, because nothing else was available, and soon became accustomed to it. In visiting Queensland many years ago I was offered all kinds of beverages, some of which seemed so nauseating that I had to spit them out, but later I became accustomed to them.


Senator McLachlan - The honorable senator developed a taste.


Senator LYNCH - Yes, and I wish Senator McLachlan to develop a taste for the Australian spirit. In pulverizing the arguments of Senator Ogden I did not have to go outside Australia for the facts, which, like the morning mists, are at our doors. As I have shown, the revenue increased from £13,000,000 to £26,000,000.


Senator Duncan - Does not that show that under high protection the people are better able to purchase imported spirits - that they are better off?


Senator LYNCH - I do not admit that. Another point which is slightly alien to the subject under discussion is the enormous prosperity which enables the people to purchase these commodities in spite of the price. The Australian whisky industry has been struggling against an almost impossible proposition, and has been growing faint-hearted by the wayside, but now, owing to the imposition of protective duties, it is in a better position, and is disposing of its product to the community at a reasonable price. I do not know any one associated with the industry in Australia; but, as the spirit being produced is being sold at 7d. a nobbier as against1s. charged in Western Australia for imported whisky the industry should be encouraged. As those associated with the business in Australia apparently have a conscience they should not be penalized. If they were charging l0d. or11d. a nobbler, Senator Ogden and Senator McLachlan would be accusing them of not doing a fair thing. If other manufacturers in Australia would sell at reasonable prices, when under the protection afforded they are able to do so. I would not oppose the duties proposed on many of the items mentioned in the schedule. In many instances, however, local manufacturers, taking advantage of the high protective tariff, raise their prices almost to the level of those charged for the foreign manufactures, and in many cases the prices of imported goods are also increased. That is one reason why I oppose excessive duties, which destroy the productive energy of a country. Whisky does not matter. If any of the superfluities enumerated under the old sumptuary laws are taxed to the extent of 60 per cent., 70 per cent., or even 80 per -cent., I shall support such items, because the people do not need them. I am illogical, but I am honest enough to admit it.


Senator McLachlan - Hear, hear!


Senator LYNCH - There is a long dark journey to traverse before we get through the tariff forest. Wait until we reach the duties proposed on South Australian wines. I think I have said sufficient to compel Senator Ogden to put on his considering cap. Honorable senators should also remember that the manufacture of this spirit is supervised by representatives of the Government. The distillers are told to do certain things in order to ensure a wholesome spirit being placed before the people. The Government do not prevent the bootmakers from using brown paper in the articles they produce. The Australian whisky must be made from a pure barley malt : molasses or potatoes cannot be used in its manufacture.


Senator Foll - The operations of butter manufacturers are under the supervision of Government officials.


Senator LYNCH - That is provided for under a special act. "We are told that the whisky produced overseas is subjected to supervision. Mr. Ruthven, the representative of the Johnnie Walker product, said before the Tariff Board -


The CHAIRMAN (Senator Newlands - The honorable senator's time has expired.







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