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Friday, 18 November 1927

Senator KINGSMILL (Western Australia) . - The discussion on this subject has suffered a good deal from the introduction of much extraneous matter. The main point is that .the Minister for Trade and Customs has taken a step which has resulted in penalizing the wine industry to the extent of Sd. a gallon on the sale of wine in England. We have to work out a sum in our minds to see whether that disadvantage is outweighed by a corresponding benefit gained by the coopering industry. Bearing in mind that, in spite of the preference, we have to meet very many extremely powerful competitors in Great Britain, it seems to me that the imposition of a price such as is caused by this quaint, I might even say grotesque, class of protection, is likely, to kill the wine export industry, unless the government with its desire to help everybody, including itself, wishes to raise the bounty on exported wine by 8d a gallon. .1 do not know whether that is the intention of the government.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Can we get over the difficulty by asking Great Britain to give an additional preference of Sd a gallon?

Senator KINGSMILL - I do not know that we could get over the difficulty in that way, but there is no objection to making the request. There are any amount of ways of getting over the difficulty. We might, for instance, do away with casks by inventing some other sort of container to convey our wine to Great Britain in bulk. All sorts of devices could be used to get over the difficulty; but I am afraid they would not be practicable. It seems to mt that ) the experience of centuries has shown that the only way in which wine can be carried is in casks. It' seems to me also that this latest step in protection proves what is evident to some of us in this chamber, including my friend and colleague, Senator Lynch - the fallacy of this " protection run mad " policy with which we are inflicted.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator's colleague was very strong for duties on timber.

Senator KINGSMILL - I refuse to be led aside by the disorderly interjection of the honorable senator. Nor do I intend to follow the course which I regret my friend and colleague, Senator Lynch, pursued in castigating Senator Barwell for the attitude he has taken up on .this question. Rather do I welcome a new convert to the fold, and rejoice that he has seen the right light. I hope that Senator Barwell realizes that hitherto he has been following a sort of fictitious gleam, and that he sees now where it might have led him.

Senator Sir Henry BARWELL - No one could have criticized the government more strongly than I have done.

Senator KINGSMILL - I am sorry to have been led aside. These cognate subjects will persist in obstruding themselves. It seems to me that the imposition of this duty is the height of absurdity. It would be absurd if it were not cruel. Unfortunately I know of no method by which in either House the matter can be set right. Instances like this make us realize that it is a vicious system to place in hands of one man the right to exercise power such as this. I cannot say that I have much pleasure in supporting the motion, because I regret the necessity for it; nevertheless I support it, because I believe that the step which has been taken by the government is a false step in the interests of every one, and more particularly in the interests of Australia. It bears out what I have already said, that we are - I was going to say gradually, but this is a sudden step - building round Australia a wall of protection which will . isolate us from the rest of the civilized world. We are not like other countries, able to live on our own markets. That being so, I hope that the Minister for Trade and

CuStoms will - I have my doubts about it - see the error of his ways and relax a little that inflexible predilection he has for the infliction of outrageous and,-in this case, absurd duties.

Senator SirHENRY BARWELL (South Australia) [12.6]. - I do not know that 3 ever felt more sorry for a Minister than I did for Senator Crawford when he at- tempted to" defend what he apparently knew was indefensible, and what I think every honorable senator must feel is indefensible. The Minister said that the Senate would find that this was only a small matter, because it .dealt only with a claim for £14 by one man. It is true that Mr. Young's claim is for £14. Mr. Young referred his claim to me, and I brought it before the Minister; but no sooner had that been done than I received a communication from the secretary of the Vignerons Association pointing out that the whole of the industry was in the same position as Mr. Young. I advised the secretary of the association not to' take action, as Mr. Young had already seen me in reference to the matter, and that I intended to bring his case before the Government. I said that if I did not succeed with the Minister I would bring the matter before the Senate. This I have done. It does not affect Mr. Young only, and it certainly involves more than £14. Affecting as it does the whole of the vignerons who export their produce, the sum involved on this year's estimated export is £66,000.

Senator CRAWFORD - We shall have that statement investigated.

Senator Sir HENRYBARWELL.The Minister can have it investigated as much as he pleases. No one knows better than the vignerons themselves what will be the wastage on this year's estimated export of 2,000,000 gallons of wine through their not being permitted to import free of duty returned Australian made casks for refilling.

Senator Herbert Hays - How did the vignerons arrive at that figure ?

Senator Sir HENRYBARWELL.On the basis that while this duty is imposed, old casks cannot be brought back and used again. As long as this duty is retained it will be impossible for the vignerons to use casks more than once.

They must use neW casks each season. The vignerons know the average life of a cask, and how many times it can he refilled for export. On. that basis they are able to calculate to a nicety the amount cf wastage involved in having to buy new casks each year.

Senator Reid - What is the price of a. new cask?

Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL - The price is £3 6s. 6d. Mr. Young in his letter to me says : -

The statement that Wills tendered £1 9s. 9d. per cash duty is incorrect; they contested any payment, and would only get the casks on paying this amount.

Senator Reid - What does it cost to bring the old casks from London ?

Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL - I do not know, but it has been put to mc that it is impossible to make use of them if duty has to He paid in addition to the freight. Mr. Young in his letter says further : -

T have had to cable to England to stop all further shipments, and this is preventing my usual orders from coming along.

Senator Reid - Does the duty make old casks dearer than new casks?

Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL - Yes, when freight and other charges are added. As for the wide range covered by this debate, my remarks in submitting this motion were confined to the one question - the imposition of this duty. Even the Minister had to be stopped by the President when he was telling us what had been done to help the wine industry. It was very interesting to hear about the amount of spirit there is in wine, but it had nothing to do with the case. The truth was that the Minister was not able to defend the action of the Government, which as I have said before, is indefensible. One argument advanced by the Minister was that we must pay consideration to relative industries, and that the coopering industry is related to the wine industry must also be protected. He said that in order to protect it we must have the absurd situation that it is impossible to bring used casks out from Great Britain and fill them again. The old season's cask is infinitely better than a new cask which may leak and is not seasoned.

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