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Wednesday, 2 June 1926

Senator GRAHAM (Western Australia) . - I think Senator Lynch hit the nail on the head to-day when he said that one has to cultivate a taste for a particular brand of whisky. A young man has to cultivate a taste for tomatoes, but once he has done so he becomes very fond of them, and, as with whisky, he has many varieties to choose from. I have a drink when I feel I want one. If I want a drink of whisky I drink whisky; if I feel that beer will suit my palate better, I drink beer. I think I have tasted all the whiskies on the market, and I am satisfied that the Australian whisky is all that it is claimed to be. A man can drink Australian whisky at night time and feel no ill effects in the morning, but I cannot say the same of some of the imported whiskies. They give you that dark brown taste in the morning that urges you to have a hair of the dog that hit you. As I said on Friday last I shall vote for duties on articles that can be manufactured in Australia, in order to protect them from outside competition.

Senator Sir Henry Barwell - Whisky is already well protected.

Senator GRAHAM - It is not sufficiently protected to enable the local producers to carry on. If it is a fact, as stated to-day, that 500,000 bushels of barley are used each year in the production of Australian spirit, it means something to Australians to have Old Court whisky produced here. Honorable senators must bear in mind that the Australian whisky is distilled under stringent regulations, and that the analytical reports show that it is an absolutely pure spirit. In that respect no imported whisky can beat it. It is certainly equal to any of the Scotch whiskies referred to by Senator Barwell, Senator McLachlan and others. It has been said by an honorable senator that when this increased duty is given there will be nothing to prevent the distillers from increasing their prices, but the Tariff Board Act in effect provides that manufacturers cannot increase their prices without the approval of the Customs authorities. This distillery company, whether it covers four concerns or represents one distillery only, gives employment to a number of people. It is only a matter of the Australian people acquiring a taste for a particular bever age. Senator Lynch has told the Senate that the price of a nobbier of Scotch whisky in Western Australia is 1s. - when he and I first went to the State, beer was1s. a glass - and that the man who is asked to pay 8d. a nobbier for Australian whisky as against1s. a nobbier for imported whisky will realize that he is in pocket in buying the former. I have heard no arguments against the proposed increase in the duties. I regret that the Minister (Senator Crawford) did not have more to say in support of the item, but because it is intended to encourage an Australian industry. I shall give it ray support.

Senator Grant - Will the honorable senator quote that part of the Tariff Board Act which indicates that producers cannot increase the price of local whisky.

Senator GRAHAM - The provision of the act is as follows : - 16. (1) The Minister shall refer to the board for inquiry and report the following matters: - (ft.) any complaint that a manufacturer is taking undue advantage of the protection afforded him by the tariff, and in particular in regard to his -

(i)   charging unnecessarily high prices for his goods; or -

(ii)   acting in restraint oftrade to the detriment of the public; or

(iii)   acting in a manner which results in unnecessarily high prices being charged to the consumer for his goods, and shall not take any action in respect of any of those matters untilhe has received the report of the board.

This shows conclusively that when an increased duty has been imposed the manufacturers cannot increase their prices at their own sweet will.

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