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Thursday, 9 December 1971
Page: 4555

Mr Grassby asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:

(1)   Have brandy imports into Australia since June 1968 exceeded 800,000 proof gallons representing a loss lo Australian growers of $1.3m.

(2)   Is the Australian taxpayer subsidising overseas grape growers to the extent of $3 per gallon.

(3)   Has the quantity of brandy held in bond increased from 4.2 million gallons in June 1970 to S.8 million gallons in 1971; if so, is this situation a threat to the Australian wine grape industry.

(4)   Has he ordered a tariff inquiry into the 15 per cent of the Australian brandy market which is represented by imports.

(5)   If so, when will the inquiry commence and when can the report be expected.

Mr Anthony - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Imports of brandy in the financial years 1968-69, 1969-70 and 1970-71 totalled 665,925 proof gallons. Most imports were in bulk at strengths exceeding proof.

(2)   The excise duty on brandy is $8.00 per proof gallon. The customs duty on most imported brandy is $8.50 per proof gallon. Accordingly, the Australian industry has protection through the Tariff at a level of $0.50 per proof gallon. There are no subsidies or import restrictions applicable to brandy. (3), (4) and - (5) Stocks of Australian grape brandy held in bond increased from 5.3 million gallons at 30th June 1970 to 5.8 million gallons at 30th June 1971.

On 13th October 1971, the Tariff Board was asked to inquire into the question of assistance to the Australian brandy industry.

It can be expected that the Board will receive evidence on both the build up of stocks and the level of imports of brandy. The questions of whether the stock and import situations present a threat to the Australian wine grape industry are issues on which it would be appropriate for the Tariff Board to furnish advice.

The Tariff Board has not as yet announced the date of commencement of its public inquiry and I am unable, at this stage, to forecast when the Board's report may be expected.

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