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Friday, 11 June 1926

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain (VICTORIA) - The honorable senator is not in order, and I ask him to confine his remarks to the question before the committee.

Senator GRANT - It is anticipated that £10,700,000 will be collected this year in the form of excise duties. Fortunately, tea has never been taxed, although there are some ultra-conservatives in this Parliament who favour such a proposal. The imposition of these excise duties will not have the effect of reducing the consumption of whisky, but it will make it more costly. My objection to the impost is that it is levied upon firms in proportion to their output. I have heard illinformed people suggest that the working man of Australia has adopted the go-slow policy. I cannot imagine anything more detrimental to the progress of an industry than for it to be taxed in proportion to its output. This form of taxation is an incentive to go slow. It penalizes the employment of capital and tends to drive capital out of the country; although I do not know where it goes. If my requested amendment is agreed to the consumption of Australian whisky should substantially increase, and the imports decline toa corresponding extent. I understand that none of these taxes are levied on spirits or tobacco consumed at Government House. That is an excellent idea. The same principle should be applied to Canberra, and so make the place more attractive to quite a number of people. I have submitted my request in order that those honorable senators who are genuinely in favour of removing an unfair impost on an Australian industry may have an opportunity to register their views. They need not be greatly concerned about its effect upon the revenue, because the financial relationship of the Commonwealth and the States is more or less in the melting pot, and as we shall be called upon shortly to deal with legislation affecting that matter any loss of revenue from the abolition of the excise duties on this item can be adjusted. Last night, on the item dealing with picture films the committee insisted upon an increase in the duty on foreign films to the extent of about £80,000. The Government did not seriously object to that addition to the revenue, so why should there be any objection to my request in this item, even if it does mean a loss in revenue to the extent of £1,200,000. Ministers cannot take everything without expecting to give something in return. I hope that the genuine supporters of Australian industry in this Chamber will vote for my request.

Request negatived.

Schedule agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported without request; report adopted.

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