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Wednesday, 2 June 1926

Senator MCLACHLAN (South Australia) . - It has been suggested that the wine industry is similar to that connected with the distillation of whisky. I should like to place before the committee one or two facts with regard to the production of alcoholic beverages in other countries, so as to make plain the distinction that in my earlier speech upon this item, I endeavoured to draw between the two. France is a wine producing country : England and Scotland produce whisky and ale. It is the rarest thing to hear whisky asked for in France, and the quantity which is made available to the various hotelkeepers is limited, France desiring to stimulate the consumption of her brandy and wines. England and Scotland are the home of the manufacture of whisky. Whether I incorrectly described the whisky industry as " artificial " I do not know. Australia undoubtedly lends itself to the production of all classes of grapes, from which even the best quality of champagne could have been produced in the early life of the industry had we possessed the necessary skill and equipment. It has also been suggested, by way of criticism of some observations that fell from me, that a prejudice exists against Australian whisky. That is a. libel upon the public who drink whisky in this country. They do not drink imported whisky because they have a prejudice against the Austraiian product. The majority of those men pay some regard to the cost of their refreshments. That is peculiar not to one class in the community, but to ever}' class which consumes these beverages. There is in this matter something more than mere prejudice. Doubtless some of the wines that have been exported from this country answered the chemical test that was applied by the Customs Department, although they might not have answered the test oftaste if it had been applied. These are subtle matters, with which I am not familiar. I do not consider that any case has been made out for an increase of duty. The inevitable result of such an increase will be the raising of the price of the Australian article. Local manufacturers would act. foolishly if they did not increase their prices.

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