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Tuesday, 10 April 1973
Page: 1273

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - Mr Deputy Speaker-

Dr J F Cairns - We have heard some rabbit. What about the bulldog?

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - I would like to speak in support of the amendment that the Government is making in removing the excise from home made beer. I would like to congratulate the Minister for Overseas Trade and the Minister for Secondary Industry (Dr J. F. Cairns) for perhaps the smartest comment I have heard him make in 6i years. It is wonderful what office does to some individuals. I would like to take up the point raised by the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp), the former Minister for Customs and

Excise, in referring to the discrimination displayed by the new Government in removing completely, by regulation in the (first couple of weeks of its coming to power, the excise on wine. The honourable member for Hotham pointed out to the Minister that the new Government has introduced a measure that makes it easier for the businessman with an expense account to entertain and drink wine and yet continues the high tax imposed on those people who enjoy the very humble drink - I must confess that as a worker I like it too - beer. Might I say, while I am standing up for the worker, that the XXXX beer in Brisbane is probably one of the best beers one is ever likely to taste in Australia, and it is a pity that the excise on beer continues to make it more difficult for the people of the south to enjoy the superior drink. Getting back to the main point, I believe the new Government altered the regulations to remove the excise on wine at a time when they did not need altering.

Mr Grassby - Do you mean that you wanted to keep the excise on wine?

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - The honourable member for Riverina popped in here 3 years ago-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order!He is the Minister for Immigration.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - Is he? He wears many caps, but looking at him in that wine coloured suit, it is not an unfair comparison. He could be the wine coloured suit man or the Minister for Immigration, but I will always know him as the bubbling, popping member for Riverina. The Government introduced this measure to placate the honourable member for Riverina - the Minister for Immigration. It came after I had sat in this Parliament long enough to have beard arguments from both sides of the House on the matter and after I had heard the honourable member for Angas {Mr Giles), when we were in Government, campaigning strongly against the former Government's decision to introduce the wine excise. The Liberal Government halved that excise and I did not note the advantage to the consumer. The new Government has removed the excise completely and still I do not see any advantage to the consumer.

Mr Chipp - The price has gone up.

Mr Whittorn - It has gone up.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - As the honourable member for Hotham and the honourable member for Balaclava remind me - perhaps they indulge a little more than I- prices have gone up. The Government removed the wine excise on the ground that the wine industry had been severely affected by the imposition of this tax.

Dr J F Cairns - I think we had better keep our remarks relevant to the Bill.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - I am making a comparison between the way the wine drinker has been treated and the way the beer drinker has been treated. The situation was that the Government wrote into its policy months ago the sections relating to the removal of wine excise at a time when it appeared that perhaps the wine growers were suffering a little as a result of the imposition of the wine tax. But what happened was that the wine industry continued to expand, and those big combines which the Government so severely criticises as being monopolistic recognise the wine industry as an area of investment. Yet at a time when the big companies are investing millions in taking over small wine growers the new Government is doing nothing to stop them. The new Government in removing the wine excise is not only discriminating against the beer drinker but also is making it more profitable for those big companies and combines which wish to invest their money in the wine growing industry. I am not one to step in and trample on local investment, but what I say is that I do not believe that the welfare of every beer drinker in Australia who wants to buy a bottle should be put below that of the sectional interests of the Minister for Immigration. He was a fairly vociferous advocate in this Parliament for the abolition of the wine excise and obviously had an effect on his Party.

I ask the new Government whether it is fair to discriminate between wine drinkers, whether they make their wine at home or purchase the manufactured product made at the winery, and beer drinkers. While I freely acknowledge the benefits of this change which is presently before the House, I ask the Government how in all conscience, as a Party which pretends to be the champion of the workers, it can go along with the continuation of a 17c a bottle excise on beer bought across the counter by the worker. Perhaps the honourable member for Hotham, the former Minister, might be able to tell me how much of the 20c charged for a glass of beer goes to this new Government to help it to finance the removal of the excise from manufactured wine.

Mr Chipp - It is 3c or 4c.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - Is it that low?

Mr Chipp - That is for a glass.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) -It must be a pretty small glass. In conclusion, I would like to make one comment about my experience in Jamaica. When in that country I bought some Australian wine.

Mr Chipp - That is rum country.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - Rum was available. Obviously some members of this House enjoy-

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