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Wednesday, 23 March 1927

Senator CHAPMAN (South Australia) . - Like the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham), I regret that we have not had more time in which to consider this bill. So far as I could gather from the speech of the Honorary Minister, it appears that although it is proposed to continue the bounty for a further term of three years, the amount of the bounty is to be reduced. I regret that the Government has decided to reduce the amount of the bounty, because, according to the evidence given in Adelaide before the Tariff Board, the cost of producing grapes for wine exceeds the amount received by the growers of the grapes.

Senator Duncan - That applies to the growers of doradilla grapes.

Senator CHAPMAN - It applies to all wine grapes, not only to doradillas A large deputation of wine-growers, who attended before the Tariff Board in Adelaide, said that even with the bounty of 4s. per gallon, many of them were on the bread line. Among the growers of grapes are numbers of returned soldiers, who have taken up blocks since their return from the war. Prior to the time when returned soldiers engaged in grapegrowing on a large scale, very little wine was exported from Australia. The wine then produced was, for the most part, consumed in the home market; but now, with the increased production) the excess quantity must be exported, and has to compete with the products of other countries. The present unsatisfactory condition of the grape-growing industry is due to the high cost of production. The high wages awarded by the Arbitration Courts, and the heavy Customs duties make it exceedingly difficult for Australian wines to compete in the markets of the world with wines from other countries,and the exportable surplus has to be sold for as little, as1s. 6d. per gallon. It must be remembered that to these men the Government has advanced large sums of money, which will be lost if they are driven out of the industry. I regret exceedingly that the Government has decided to reduce the amount of the bounty, because I feel certain that it will have very serious effects.

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