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Thursday, 15 November 1973
Page: 1855

Senator HANNAN (Victoria) - I refer to Excise Bill (No. 2) 1973 and to the schedule attached to the Bill. I take this opportunity merely to express briefly my intense opposition to the obsession which this Government, following perhaps the precedent set by its predecessor, has with the acceptance of the metric system of weights and measures. If honourable senators look at Excise Bill (No. 2) they will see that the dutiable contents of a hogshead shall be taken as 234 litres. For many years without any difficulty people who dealt in liquid merchandise have had no difficulty in handling gallons, pints and so forth. But we now find for some reason which confers no economic or other valid benefit upon the community as a whole that this Government is intent on taking us into the area of metric weights and measures.

Senator Sim - The decision has been made for Australia to convert to the metric system.

Senator HANNAN - I know that the decision has been made. I have already referred to that. But merely because a mistake has been made initially, I do not think that that is any reason why it should not be corrected before disaster overwhelms us.

Sir Kenneth Anderson - The honourable senator will have to move heaven and earth -

Senator HANNAN - Just a moment. I will deal with heaven and earth on a more suitable occasion and when the matter before the chair is more apt.

Senator Marriott - How would the honourable senator measure distance? In imperial or metric measurement?

Senator HANNAN - I would measure it in imperial measurement. I do not want to speak at any length now because I propose to raise the matter more adequately on a subsequent occasion. But this metric system has been adopted. I am not blaming this Government only for it. I do not want to sound unfair in this matter. But it has already caused a considerable increase in the price of milk and this Government has already used the device of measuring postage rates in grams in order to make an extraordinary increase in the cost of postage. Previously, it cost 7c to post a letter weighing half an ounce. Now, 20 grams is the maximum weight of a letter to which the 7c postage charge may be applied. That is roughly 60 per cent of the weight of a letter that would have been carried for 7c under the old imperial weights system. The post office is inflating the cost of its postage charges by using the metric system. As I said, on another occasion I will list a great number of commodities on which the price has been inflated simply by the use of the metric system. In the case of beer, I am informed on credible authority that the primary glass manufacturers are opposed to making litre bottles. At the moment, the normal bottle one buys is a 740 millilitre bottle. Last week I asked the lady in charge of our milk-bar in my little suburb for a 740 millilitre bottle of lemonade. She did not know what I wanted.

Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - Did not she understand about lemonade?

Senator HANNAN - She did not understand the metric system. She is in good company. Most of the people in Australia do not understand it, either. With these few introductory remarks, I will leave Excise Bill (No. 2 ) 1 973.

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