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Thursday, 28 July 1921

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) . - I move - 0

That the request be amended by leaving out 3s. ed.", with la view to insert "-4s." in lieu thereof.

If that amendment is .agreed to, I shall later move a further request with a view to making the duty on ale, &c., imported in bottles 6s. per gallon. I indorse Senator Pratten's remarks regarding the necessity for keeping in view the probability of our re suming business relations with former enemy .countries, including Germany. As regards the Tariff generally, I consider that as Australia has practically all the necessary raw materials, our people should use goods manufactured by Australians; but I am not a whole-hogger, and will not support high Protective duties on industries that I do not consider require them. Whilst advocating increased duties on beer, stout, &c, I would not favour increased duties which would spoon-feed certain already powerful and wealthy manufacturers, and thereby unnecessarily increase the high cost of living, more particularly when those high duties, 'if imposed, would increase the cost of the necessities of life. I 'am in favour of substantial Imperial preference. Several honorable .senators and others have misjudged my attitude in regard to the manufacture of woollen goods. Notwithstanding our immense production of wool, we are importing a greater quantity of manufactured woollen goode than we make locally; that is a very serious anomaly. We should manufacture locally the whole of our requirements in woollen goods; but .the factories already established have such a magnificent start that very high duties are not necessary for many reasons, which I will state in detail when the Committee reaches £he .duties on woollen goods. I am strongly in favour of substantial or adequate' Protective duties on infant industries, and I do not desire my remarks on the woollen industry to be misconstrued. Whilst I am urging increased duties on ale, beer, and cider, and will favour lower duties om some woollen goods, I desire it to be understood that I am in no way interested in the brewing trade, nor have I been approached directly or indirectly by any interested party; whereas, on .the other band, I am a shareholder in two Victorian woollen mills that are about to commence operations, and a director of a cooperative woollen mill in New South Wales. We should protect infant industries such as the manufacture of woollen goods-

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Buzacott - I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks ito the item before the Committee.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - I was about to say that I believe that the best way -to foster industries like the manufacture of beer and woollen goods would be to allow the necessary machinery to be imported free, or at very low duties. As regards beer, stout, and cider, I stress the fact that, whilst I am not a prohibitionist I voted for a reduction of licences at the recent referendum in Victoria. One reason why I shall fight for protection for the lager beer industry is that the people of Australia should be encouraged to drink light beverages such as lager, which contains only4 percent. of alcohol, as against imported beers and lager, which are very much stronger, and therefore more injurious. The German, Japanese, Dutch, and other lagers require to be loaded with spirit in order to enable them to carry properly, but they are no better than are our own beers. We know, too, that cider is made from apples, and applegrowing is an industry which is well worthy of our encouragement, more particularly as many returned soldiers have embarked upon it. They will need all the protection thatwe can give them. I am strongly in favour ofdecentralization, and the brewing of beer and lager is an industry which has led to decentralization. In Victoria alone, there are seventeen breweries, only two of which are in the metropolitan area, whilst fifteen are in the country.In Australia, there are seventy-two breweries employing 3,750 hands. In the glass works of the Commonwealths - and the manuf acture of beer bottles is the backbone of the industry - there are sixteen factories employing 2,500hands. In addition, there are fifty-nine malt-houses employing 700 hands, 2,000 barley growers, and 600 employees in the corks, seals, and label industry. Dealing with the duties upon ale, beer, and cider is a totally different matter from dealing with the duties which have been imposed in respect to many other industries which are highly protected. In some industries, the manufacturers do not obtain their raw materials in this country. Foreign competitors who are engaged in the brewing of beer and lager do not purchase here any of the raw materials that they use. Therefore they are of no benefit to the producers of Australia. I intend to support the imposition of high duties upon luxuries, and imported beer is a luxury. If there be anybody in the community like Senator Wilson, who is not satisfied with the magnificent beers that are brewed in the Commonwealth-_ such as Abbotsford lager, Foster's lager, or Ballarat lager, he can afford to pay a, higher price for the imported article.

Senator Wilson -Is the honorable senator satisfied that Victoria is the only State which brew good beer ?

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - I have never been asked by the honorable senator to test the quality of the beer that is brewed in South Australia, but I shall have much pleasure in doing so if. the honorable senator will guarantee that; it does not contain more than 4 per cent. of alcohol. In framing a Tariff, we have also to recollect that it is necessary to protect the local industry against the cheap labour of countries such as Germany and Japan, in which lager beer is chiefly brewed. Some people may ask what is the value of the lager beer industry in Australia. That industry not only employsa vast amount of capital and labour, but is conducted under good conditions and under Arbitration Court awards. We must also have regard to the ingredients which are contained in the local article - ingredients such as sugar, hops, barley, and, as regards cider, apples - as well as the corks, capsules . and labels which are used in the industry. I would rather drink good Australian beer than imported beer, especially German beer. In connexion with this industry, let me point to the consumption of barley alone. The Carlton United Brewing Company, of Melbourne, uses annually 500,000 bushels of malt, which is equal to more than 600,000 bushels ofbarley. It may also interest honorable senators to know that 95 per cent, of the total hops grown in Australia are consumed by the Australian breweries. Consequently, those breweries are, to a large extent, responsible for making barley growing a profitable industry to our primary producers.

Senator de Largie - How much tobacco do they put into the beer?.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - I do not know, because I do not frequent hotels the licensees of which would be guilty of such a practice.

Senator de Largie - The tobacco is not put in at the hotels, but at the breweries.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - I do not think that our breweries do that sort of thing.

They brew a pure and a particularly good article. They are subject to inspection, and no honorable senator would seriously accuse them of being guilty of the practice which Senator de Largie has suggested. If I thought that they were capable of doing such a thing I would not take the stand I am taking to-day. I have not been approached, either directly or indirectly, by anybody who is interested in the trade. I am arguing this question simply from the stand-point of principle. It may be urged by some honorable senators that the increased duty proposed is unnecessary. But I would point out that in 1913 we imported from Germany 804,622 gallons of bottled* beer in addition to 14,600 gallons in bulk. That is a trade which is quite unnecessary.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Under the honorable senator's proposal, if the same quantity of beer were imported from Germany during the current year, the Customs authorities would collect an extra revenue of £50,000.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Yes. But my object is to make it difficult to import German beer and to compel those who insist upon purchasing luxuries to pay for them. In 1913 the Australian manufacture of beer amounted to 60,000,000 gallons, and in 1920 - thanks to German lager having been eliminated- the quantity had increased to 69,954,000 gallons. In addition, the total Excise paid by the brewers of the Com- monwealth amounts to the magnificent sum of £5,600,000 per annum. It may be urged that the lager beer or the beer-brewing industry of Australia does not require protection, because it is already making good profits. But I find upon inquiry that' that is not so. It is not, at all events, making excessive profits. I gather from a glance at the share register that most of the brewery shares are below par, and that the Carlton and United Brewery, which embraces, with the exception of the Cooperative Brewery, all the breweries of this city, and is a large and well conducted enterprise, has never been able to pay by way of dividends more than 8 per cent. It has been able more frequently to pay a dividend of only 4 per cent. The highest rate of interest being paid by any brewery at the present time is that paid by the Swan Brewery of Western Australia, which is returning about 9.3 per cent. No brewery in Australia is making sufficient from brewing to pay a dividend of 10 per cent.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Buzacott - Order ! The honorable senator's time has expired.

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