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Thursday, 5 December 1985
Page: 2995


Senator MICHAEL BAUME(11.38) —I want to comment on a response by Senator Walsh to a very sound point made by Senator Vigor. Senator Vigor expressed concern about the impact on the wine industry that would clearly and inevitably flow and is already flowing from this Government's attack on entertainment in general. The Minister quoted statistics of bottled wine sales as evidence of his claim that so far the Government's assaults by way of sales tax and so on have not damaged the wine industry. That is a nonsensical point, as the Minister knows perfectly well. He has the capacity to look at the discount sales, the extraordinary price cuts and the way in which wine companies have been cutting each other's throats to get rid of the stocks of wine they had because of the impact of this Government's anti-wine industry policy. There have been sales increases in volume terms in the wine industry; as the Minister pointed out, by an `enormous' 1 1/2 per cent. The Minister quoted the October figure, yet only a little while ago, when he defended his offensive wine tax, he talked about a much greater increase and how wonderfully well the wine industry was doing.

The reality, as the Minister knows, as a result of this Government's action, which is the latest in a series of such actions, is that the wine industry has been put under intolerable pressure. There have been massive disposals at cut-throat prices. There will be continual forced mergers, people going broke and so on in the wine industry as a direct result of this Government's actions. For the Minister to defend those actions, on the basis of forced disposals at discount prices of wine stocks, shows the extent of deception he can enter into.