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Thursday, 25 November 1971
Page: 3657

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It gives me great pleasure to rise in support of the motion ' moved by the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles). I am glad to know that the honourable member has changed, his mind on this question because he was among the Government supporters who voted for the imposition of the tax when it was first introduced and until now he has given no indication of any disapproval of the Government's action. The honourable member tor Angas, like any other member of this Parliament who knows anything at all about the wine industry, knows perfectly well that the industry is almost the only primary industry left that is able to stand on its own feet.

Mr Nixon - What about beef?

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I said 'almost". Beef is another industry but wine is almost the only one. The number of prim acy industries that aTe able to stand on their own feet without government assistance are dwindling in number all the time. Indeed, literally thousands of secondary industries are able to stand on their own feet only because of a great deal of government assistance they receive by means of tariff protection.

Australia produces the finest wines in the world. Our wines are infinitely better than wines that are produced on the Continent in spite of what people from the continental countries might say. Yet, this wonderful Australian industry, which dates back to 1840. and perhaps even before that year - In South Australia the industry dates back almost to the foundation of the colony - is being crippled by a tax that is not yielding good returns of revenue.

Mr Grassby - The Goverment will lose revenue.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - In fact, it is losing revenue. I want to congratulate the honourable member for Riverina on the magnificent exposition of the Government's weak position which he has given to the Parliament. There is no honourable member in this Parliament who has stated the case for the wine growers and the wine makers so eloquently and with such compelling logic as the honourable member for Riverina has consistently done ever since he has come here. The wine growers and the grape growers of Australia have in the honourable member the most effective representative that this Parliament has ever seen. Never before have we seen an honourable member who has graced this chamber with such eloquence on behalf of these people.

Let us have a look at the ridiculous situation we have in Australia in respect of the wine industry. We have a flat imposition of excise duty on wine which means that cheap wine, when the excise was first introduced, carried a burden of up to 33 per cent. This was the percentage rate of the tax which was placed upon cheap wine, the wine that the ordinary working man has to drink. The only wine that the ordinary working man can afford to consume usually is flagon wine. When this imposition was first placed upon wine he had to pay a tax of the order of 30 per cent. According to the honourable member for Riverina, the ordinary man still has to pay; 1 think, 25 per cent. Is that what the bon.ourable member for Riverina said?

Mr Grassby - The tax here gives the Government 4 times what the grower gets out of that bottle.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - What is the tax on a flagon?

Mr Grassby - On a flagon it is 20 per cent. :

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am obliged to the honourable member for that information.

Mr Giles - It is 50 per cent in some cases.

Mr Grassby - That is right, in some cases it is 50 per cent.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - As we have heard, in some cases it is 50 per cent. I notice that the honourable member for Angas has interjected to say mat the imposition in some cases is 50 per cent. Therefore, although my original statement of 30 per cent sounded outrageous when it fell from my lips, I now realise that this was an understatement of the true position. Expressed as a percentage, what is a tax of 8c on a bottle of expensive imported French or Italian wine? It would be about 1 per cent or 2 per cent. Therefore, it is just outrageous and indefensible for this Government to carry on with the present situation.

I am of the opinion, and no-one will convince me to the contrary, that the Government's sole reason for introducing this tax on wine was to placate its wealthy backers from the brewery interests. Everybody knows that the breweries of Australia are heavy contributors to the Government's campaign funds, and why would they not be? Why would they not want to see this Government returned year after year when through this Government they are able to cripple their competitors? They are crippling their competitors in the wine industry in this way. The former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), gave the game away only a few moments ago when he said that it was not fair to have a tax imposed on one kind of alcoholic beverage and not upon another.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - I rise to order. Is it in order to point out to the honourable member for Hindmarsh that the breweries make beer, which is drunk by the workers, who are represented by members of his Party?

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