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Thursday, 28 July 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I desire to clarify a position which, since the Minister made his speech, has become somewhat involved. My sole desire in moving a request was. as I said, to make those persons who continue to drink German lager, once trade with. Germany is resumed, pay for it. Under the Government proposal, the duty on British beer in bulk is 2s. 6d. per gallon. The Excise duty on Australian beer is ls. 9d. per gallon, the protection given being, therefore, 9d. per gallon. The Government proposal on foreign beers in bulk is an import duty of 3s. per gallon. The Excise duty on Australian beer being ls. 9d. per gallon, the protection afforded against foreign beer is ls. 3d. per gallon. The Government proposal on British beer- in bottle is an import duty of 3s. per gallon. The Excise duty is ls. 9d. per gallon. Without allowing anything for the extra cost of bottles or bottling materials in Australia, and wo all know there is a big extra cost, the protection on bottled beer as against Great Britain is ls. 3d. a gallon, or 2½d. a quart bottle, or lid. a pint bottle. The Government proposal on foreign beer in bottle is an import duty of 3s.- 6d. per gallon. Again, deducting ls. 9d. Excise duty, and not considering anything extra for packages in favour of the Australian brewer, the protection is ls. 9d. per gallon, or 3½d. per quart bottle, or 1¾d. the pint bottle. I am not a beer drinker, but I am quite convinced that we ought to consider what is going to happen when we renew our trade relations with Germany.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - And when there is no anti-dumping Bill !

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Quite so. During the war it was freely acknowledged that we had been supplying golden bullets to Germany to fight us, and most of us, I think, said, "Never any more!" I support the amendment of Senator Guthrie because it will not interfere with British beer importations, or place any handicap on our friends across the water, and will, at the same time, put a further check on the importations of German lager beer. Here I might be allowed to say that Beck's beer is already coming into Australia under another name; and if people insist on drinking it, in the belief that the best beer comes from Germany, the amended duty will make them pay for the privilege, and the revenue will thereby benefit.

Senator Russell - If Beck's beer ia coining in, it is being illicitly imported.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - As I say, the revenue will bo increased by the importa tion of this lager beer, with some possible relief to the much-harassed taxpayer in other directions.

Senator Reid - Whom will the extra protection benefit if the Excise is not adjusted ?

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not call it extra protection; my mind is rather in the direction of. imposing a super-duty on German lager, if people will insist on importing it. If lager beer is not imported, then the beer drinkers here will be thrown back on- British or Australian beer, in the price of which there will be no difference. It seems to me that Senator Russell should have seized with avidity on the suggestion which has been made, so that, in the first place, we may be consistent with regard to our future attitude towards German trade, and, in the second place, benefit the revenue.

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