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Thursday, 14 November 1974
Page: 2397

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesMinister for Customs and Excise) - I take it that Senator Jessop is referring to the letter of 13 November. I am not sure of the technical details of how the ascertainment is made, but I know that there were some considerable difficulties in carrying out this procedure with great precision. My recollection is that I informed the Senate that I had instructed that every endeavour be made to improve these methods. I requested that a proper scientific assessment be made in order that we may get the best possible technique. It is obvious to everyone that there has been a great deal of passing off of very inferior products in the wine and brandy industry. It ought to be possible, I would think, to devise some skilful method of detecting the inferior products. We have scientific advisers and I have requested that the best scientific advice be obtained as to how the methods of detection can be improved. I will make a statement to the Senate on what is happening in this regard. I am aware of the honourable senator's interest and the great concern of the brandy producers all over Australia.

On the other matter, the amount of the excise on imported brandy, we will find out the precise figure for the honourable senator. He also asked whether it would be possible to increase the excise on imported brandy and in effect have some differential between the imported and the local brandy. Speaking for myself I think that would be a good idea. I understand there are some problems. The honourable senator will appreciate why I do not go into the problem of the international arrangements. Australia would not want to be in breach of international arrangements although, I understand, they are regarded somewhat elastically by other countries. I indicate that there is some sympathy with the viewpoint which has been put by the honourable senator. Some consideration will be given to it. I think that answers in substance what was asked by the honourable senator, except for the exact amount of the duties and I will obtain that for him.

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