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Tuesday, 15 May 1928

Mr PARSONS (Angas) .- It is my intention, not to deal with certain points raised by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) which are irrevelant to the question before the committee ; but to refer briefly to those which have a direct bearing on the matter now under discussion. The honorable member for Adelaide was right when he said that there is no one in the House who knows more a*bout the wine-growing districts of South Australia than the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Poster); but I suggest, judging from the remarks of the honorable member concerning the honorable member for Wakefield, that the former has yet a great deal to learn. When the honorable member was speaking I interjected, "What about Waikerie?" For the information of the honorable member I may say that I recently visited Waikerie, which is in my electorate, where there are many returned soldiers engaged in grapegrowing, all of whom are keenly interested in the bounty. These growers hold entirely different views from those expressed by the honorable member for Adelaide, and consider that a reduction in the bounty affects them more vitally than it does the wine-makers. That is one of the reasons why the winemakers are sitting back. They know that, if the grape-growers receive a reasonable bounty, they will also benefit. I would also remind the honorable member for Adelaide that the Renmark distillery, which is owned by returned soldiers, annually exports large quantities of wine, and that, if the bounty is reduced, there is a possibility of their export trade ceasing. That is one of $he reasons why returned soldiers interested in that distillery have undertaken a threedays' train journey to make representations to the Government, in the hope that it will not do this wicked thing of reducing the bounty. I am asking the Minister (Mr. Paterson) even at this stage to see the error of his ways, and to withdraw the bill or amend it so that the bounty will not be interfered with. I should like to inform the honorable member for Adelaide that the spirit used to fortify the wine to a higher degree of strength, to make it suitable for export purposes, is produced on the Murray river. What the honorable member for Adelaide said concerning certain wellknown wines is perfectly true; but those wines are sold almost entirely on the Australian market, and are, therefore, not fortified to the same extent. The spirit used for fortifying purposes is produced from doradilla grapes grown by returned soldiers on- the river Murray, which is one of the reasons why the growers wish honorable members to realize the injustice of the proposed reduction. I wish to again inform the honorable member for Adelaide and the committee generally that there are many returned soldier grape-growers who are not engaged on the river Murray fruitgrowing areas are scattered throughout my electorate. Aja association of grapegrowers at Barossa, composed of returned soldiers, of which Captain Francis is the president, put its case very clearly before the chief excise officer in South Australia, in support of the claim that the bounty should not be reduced and that the price of grapes should be fixed. I have also had a communication from Spring-: ton, from returned soldiers, stating that they are keenly interested in the bounty, and asking me -to press for its continuance at the present rate. The Minister (Mr. Paterson) said that there had been an increase in the preference under the last British tariff, but I should like to inform the Minister that there has been no such increase, the preference which Australia enjoyed on highly fortified wines before the lastBritish tariff was introduced was 4s. a gallon, and to-day it is the same. I challenge the Minister to prove that there has been an increase in preference, since thi rate remains the same. The Minister, in trying to bolster up his case, said there had also been an alteration in the spirit contents of wines. There has been an alteration in the spirit content, but there has been no increase in the British preferential tariff on Australian wines. The Minister also stated that several wine-makers had declared that they were not really concerned over the proposed reduction of. the bounty, inferring that there was no sincerity in the protestations of the winemakers, and that several had " let the cat out of the bag." Both the honorable member for "Wakefield (Mr. Poster), and I challenge the Minister to supply the names of those wine-makers. The honorable gentleman was not fair in his insinuations. During his second-reading speech he stated that there is a preference on paper, in which I agree with the honorable gentleman.

Mr Paterson - I said " was," not " is ".

Mr PARSONS - Then let it be " was ". The Minister is now trying to twist his words around.

Mr Paterson - I take exception to that remark, and ask that it be withdrawn.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Watkins - The honorable member must withdraw that remark.

Mr PARSONS - I withdraw it. An interesting admission in the Minister's speech occurred when he declared that there may be some blending going on in Great Britain, but that it does not affect the position much. Previously the honor able gentleman stated that there was not. and could not, be any blending there. I have a definite statement from Mr. Ronald

Martin, a grape-grower and wine-maker, which is confirmed by Mr. Angove, of Renmark, by Mr. Salter, and by a representative of the grape-growers, Mr. Gur.sansky, to the affect that wine blending is taking place in Great Britain. Mr. Martin said that it is quite easy to blend two parts of wine under 25 per cent, with one part of wine which is under 42 per cent. The duty on such foreign blended wine is reduced to 4s. 8d., as against 4s. on Australian wine. I shall now refer to a statement that was made by the Minister for Markets (Mr. Paterson) during his second-reading speech.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member cannot now make a second-reading speech, nor can he discuss at length any remarks made in- the course of a second-reading speech.

Mr PARSONS - The Minister declared that I stated that Australian wines are sold in Great .Britain at from 9s. 6d. to 10s. a gallon. The honorable gentleman deducted various expenses from those amounts, and alleged that Australian wine-growers are now receiving 4s. 2d. a gallon, which compares very favorably with the lower price previously received. The Minister was unjust, as I used the words " selling price." The honorable gentleman misused my statement, perhaps quite inadvertently, as he is not thoroughly familiar with the industry. I previously stated that the landed price was 9s. Id., which figure the Minister also quoted. Afterwards the honorable gentleman used the selling price of from 9s. 6d. to 10s., in an endeavour to prove that the wine-makers received a greater price than they stated to be the case. A selling price and a landed price are two entirely different things. When a British wine merchant lands wine at 9s. Id., he probably makes a profit of from 5d. to lid a gallon, and incidentally has to give terms, so that his profit is not exorbitant.

The Minister made reference to a " leading wine-maker " who recently returned from Great Britain, and who, he alleged, stated that there was a good market for Australian wines, and that the position in Great Britain was quite secure. I asked the Minister at the time to name the gentleman, but he declined to do so. I declared that the Minister had obtained his information from a newspaper article.

The honorable gentleman stated in reply that he obtained his information from an authentic letter. Subsequently in an interview with the Minister I asked him to show the letter to me. He then stated that the letter appeared ina newspaper. As the Minister was not prepared to supply the name of the person referred to, except privately, I endeavoured to obtain the information from other sources. I interviewed Mr. Salter in Adelaide, and he told me that the Minister had interviewed several winemakers in Melbourne, to whom he made similar statements, allegedly emanating from a wine merchant recently returned from Great Britain. Five times subsequently Mr. Salter, in conversation, mentioned the name of Mr. "Walker, and I am quite prepared to declare that it was Mr. Walker to whom the Minister referred. Mr. Walker has since written to the honorable gentleman denying that he made the statement referred to. I shall drop the subject there.

If honorable members paid a visit to my electorate they would realize how grave is the concern of the wine-growers over this bill, which will ruin many if passed ; therefore, even the Minister must excuse me if I appear to overstep the bounds of parliamentary procedure when speaking on this matter. I shall deal with British wines.

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