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Thursday, 13 September 1906


The PRESIDENT - No ; I ruled that it may be done.


Senator PLAYFORD - It is a very convenient ruling, because it will enable me to deal with the two Bills in one speech. It will be recollected that the Reid Government appointed a Royal Commission for the purpose of inquiring into the working of the Tariff. I had the honour to be a member of the Commission until I became a Minister of the Crown. It includes three members of the Senate, namely, Senators McGregor, Clemons, and Higgs. From the intimate acquaintance with the whole subject which thev have gained during the examination of witnesses in all parts of the Commonwealth, they are perhaps better informed than 1 am, and no doubt will supplement to a considerable extent my remarks on the Spirits Bill. Although the Commission included three protectionists and three freetrade members of the Parliament, yet on the subject of the spirit duties their report was unanimous- There must have been a good reason for making the report when it was agreed to by both free-traders and protectionists. The first report of the Commission was merely a progress report which stated that they had held so many meetings, and examined so many witnesses ; but it contained no recommendations. The second report which the Government divided into two parts - I call them No. 2 a and No. 2b - dealt with the whole question of the spirit duties, and made certain recommendations. One part of the report was given to the public, because the recommendations therein contained did not affect the re venue, but the other part which proposed the imposition of certain Excise duties was not made public when it was received. In those reports honorable senators will find, as no doubt most of them have done, a most complete epitome of the whole subject. The third report dealt with the wine-growing industry in Australia, while the fourth report dealt with the question of industrial alcohol. The second part of the second report contains the Commission's recommendations in regard to the Excise duty on spirits. Practically these have all been embodied in the Bill. I shall point out by-and-by where one or two additions have been made. The report on the winegrowing industry contains a mass of useful information, showing the diverse laws of the States relating to the fortification of" wine. In Victoria no duty was charged in that connexion. In New South Wales no duty was charged, but the vigneron had to pay a licence- fee of 20s., and a stamp duty of 20s. In South Australia there was a duty of 6d. per gallon. In Western Australia the duty was 6d. per gallon on local spirits, and 2s. 6d. per gallon on imported spirits. In its Tariff the Commonwealth fixed the duty at is. per gallon, but the Tariff Commission recommended that it should be reduced to 6d., because that would yield sufficient to cover the cost of inspection, and in the Excise Bill it has been reduced accordingly. When the Right Honorable Charles Cameron Kingston introduced the Tariff Bill in. 1901 he fixed the dutv at is. per gallon, because he thought that the revenue it would yield would be required to pay the cost of inspection, in order to see that the vigneron did not use more than a certain quantity of spirits. Up to the end of the last financial year the Commonwealth had collected £45,470 from the dutv of is. per .gallon ; but the cost of inspection had amounted- to only ^20,000. Therefore, with a view to encouraging the. wine industry, the Tariff Commission very properly recommended that the duty should be reduced to 6d. per gallon, and that is the' rate provided for. The limit of the fortification of wine was fixed at 35 per cent, of spirit. It is raised in this Bill to 40 per cent., owing to representations made to the Commission that ordinary ports and sherries were being imported fortified up to 40 per cent., while a number of our sweet wines had to be fortified at from 35 to 40 per cent. At page n of the report on the wine-growing industry honorable senators will find the reasons why it was proposed that the limit of fortification should be raised from 35 to 40 per cent. Personally, I would like our people to drink light wines in preference to heavily-fortified wines. I do not like the idea of agreeing to this high fortification, but our wine-growers point out that they have to cater for the taste of the public, which demands highly fortified strong wines.


Senator Clemons - I am glad to hear that the honorable senator does not approve of it.


Senator PLAYFORD - That is my personal opinion, but, at the same time, I must point out that the wine-growers insist that they have to cater for the public taste. When I was in London as AgentGeneral for South Australia, I started a wine depot. I obtained a quantity of wine from South Australia. I knew the manager very well, and was frequently present. I. went into the whole subject myself. I found out that the light wines that were sent to London were practically unsaleable. The wines that we could sell were strong Burgundies and wines with a fuller body. As is pointed out in the Tariff Commission's third progress report on wine-growing (page11) -

The Wine Growers Club of Victoria, through Mr. Henry M. Gooch, suggested that the regulations regarding the alcoholic strength of Australian wines be similar to those applied to imported wines. It was urged that the standard might be increased from 35 per cent. to 40 per cent. ; but it was not suggested that all wine would be fortified up to 40 per cent. It would not be necessary to do that for the purpose of the Australian market, but it might be necessary in the case of wine for export.


Senator Drake - Does that mean 40 per cent. of proof spirit?


Senator PLAYFORD - Yes.


Senator Drake - I should think that such wine is as strong as some whisky.


Senator PLAYFORD - But that is' the general strength of the sherries and ports that are imported from abroad. The representative of the vignerons of Rutherglen said that -

If Australian growers wished to manufacture wines of the same type as that produced in Spain and Portugal, they must be allowed to fortify to a higher degree than allowed at present. He suggested that the standards for the fortification of wines should be that of ordinary ports and sherries, namely, 40 per cent. They would produce a high class of ports if they were allowed to fortify them up to 40 per cent., but there might be a proviso (if it could be worked) that such wines were not to be sold at over 35 per cent.

That is to say, it was suggested that there might be such a proviso with regard to wines sold in Australia. Personally, I do not think that there is any necessity to sell wines so highly fortified in the Commonwealth -

It was for the higher grade wines, not for the cheaper wines, that the extra strength would be required.

Mr. DavidBanks Smith, vigneron, of Melbourne and Sydney, in his evidence, said -

It was believed by the majority of vignerons that they should be permitted to fortify their wines up to 40 per cent. if they so desired.

Honorable senators will find more information On this subject on page 11 of the third report of the Commission.


Senator Clemons - We should adhere to the lower percentage.


Senator PLAYFORD - I do not think so under the circumstances. When our vignerons say that it is necessary that they should be allowed to fortify up to 40 per cent. they should be permitted to do so for the foreign market, though, whether they should do so for our local market is another question. If they are going to make and export ports and sherries for the London market, they must be able to fortify them up to the usual degree of fortification that foreign producers adopt.


Senator Clemons - The honorable senator would divert the trade into the wrong channel.


Senator PLAYFORD - I do not think so. The man who plants a vineyard and makes wine does it for the purpose of selling at a profit. Although he may think that it would be a good deal better for the people if they would drink wines of a lower alcoholic strength, he has to think of his own pocket first. If he finds he can sell wines that are highly fortified better than lighter wines he must do it.


Senator Clemons - That is a very fallacious doctrine.


Senator PLAYFORD - It is not a fallacious doctrine for the man who has a vineyard, and has to cater for the public taste. I do not think we should interfere in the case of wine intended for export; but, so far as concerns wine for local sale, I am of opinion that it should not be fortified to a higher extent than 30 per cent. Now I come to the question of spirits and the distillation of spirits. The information contained in the report of the Tariff

Commission, which I call No. 2a, will give honorable senators an idea why the recommendations of the Commission were made. I shall not quote from it to a great extent, because honorable senators will be able to read it for themselves. But I will point out, in the first place, the duties of Customs and the Excise that prevailed in the States before the Commonwealth took over this matter. In Victoria the amount of protection, which the distillers of brandy enjoyed was 4s. per galJon, and the difference between the Excise and the import duty on other spirits was 2s. The Commonwealth, however, made the difference between the Excise and the import duty 3s. on brandies, reducing the protection by is., whilst the protection on other spirits was reduced to is. What was the result of that? It was to shut up all the distilleries in Victoria, with the exception of those distilling brandy.


Senator Clemons - But what was the result in' New South Wales?


Senator PLAYFORD - Of course previous to Federation there was no protection to distillers in New South Wales. The Excise and the import duties were the same, and the foreigner knocked the local distiller out of the market completely. But when the Commonwealth imposed uniform duties throughout Australia, the result in New South Wales was that distilleries were started, and in 1904 nearly 700,000 gallons were distilled. Before that time thousands of tons of molasses had been simply thrown away. In 1901, 88,680 gallons of spirits, were distilled in. New South Wales. In 1902, 479,559 gallons were distilled.


Senator Clemons - The Tariff had nothing to do with it.


Senator PLAYFORD - The Tariff did it all. In 1905 the distillation of spirits in New South Wales had| increased to 655,531 gallons. The Commonwealth import duty was 14s., and the Excise was 13s., making the protection is., and it was under the cover of that protection that the New South Wales manufacturers commenced to distil spirits. Now I come to Queensland. The imposition of the Commonwealth Customs and Excise rates had the effect of closing down most of the distillleries there.


Senator Pulsford - I think that is not correct.


Senator Drake - Queensland is producing more spirits under the Common wealth. The production has increased from i72»737 gallons in 1901, to 390.654 gallons in 1905.


Senator PLAYFORD - My note says that the Queensland Excise gave a protection of 2s. ; whereas the Commonwealthreduced it to is. ; and that, as the result, a number of the distilleries were closed.


Senator Drake - There are fewer distilleries, but more spirits are 'produced.


Senator PLAYFORD - That refers to molasses spirits I think.


Senator Lt Col NEILD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Col. Gould. - The same spirit as before.


Senator PLAYFORD - If I have made a mistake with regard to Queensland, honorable senators will be able to correct it from the report before them. In South Australia, before Federation, the Customs duty on brandy was 14s., arid the Excise was 9s. 4d., giving a protection of 4s. 8d. That protection was reduced in the case of brandy to 3s., and is. in the case of other spirits. It closed down the distillers of ordinary spirits - whiskies, and so on; but brandy continued to be distilled, because South Australia is a considerable wineproducing country. Brandy, in fact, was produced even to a greater extent than previously. Now I return to the Bill itself. The- recommendations of the Tariff Commission were -

1.   Brandy distilled wholly from grape wine by the pot still or similar process at a strength not exceeding 35 per cent, over proof, matured by storage in wood for a period of not less than two years, and certified bv a Commonwealth analyst to be pure brand)' - per gallon, 10s. (4s. less than import).

Honorable senators, on turning to the. Bill, will see that alterations have been made in those recommendations. The first is that the recommendation with reference to distillation at a strength not exceeding 35 degrees has been increased to 40 per cent, in the case of brandy . There is a great deal of evidence in favour of that increase in the percentage. With regard to the distillation of spirits, the position is this : If distillers distil spirits at 35 or 40 per cent, - not higher - the result is that there passes into the still, and into the spirit, a quantity of ingredients which are sometimes designated as injurious. They are the elements which give bouquet and flavour to the spirits. They consist of such ingredients as fusel oil, aldehvdes, ascetals, and other elements. There has been a con- siderable amount of discussion as to what is good and what is bad in those ingredients. Some years ago I read that fusel oil, which is an ingredient in giving flavour to spirit, is a most deadly poison, and ought to be altogether eliminated ; but subsequently, I read an article by a physician who stated that fusel oil is! one of the best properties that can be found in spirits, and recommended that it should be used not only to give flavour, but to make the spirit more beneficial to the consumer. If spirits are distilled 40 per cent, overproof, those volatile essences disperse, and when the percentage reaches 65 overproof, there is practically a pure spirit without any flavour. It does not matter whether the spirit is made from wine, barley, malt, grain, sugar, potatoes, or, it may be, refuse of any sort, so long as there is starch to form the sugar and ultimately the alcohol. When the spirit is distilled up to a particular strength, the impurities disappear, and .there is a silent spirit which can be mixed with other spirits and flavouring. I should now like to deal with the question of the pot-still and the patent still. Mr. Fowler, who was a member of the Royal Commission, took a great interest in this matter, and considered that the pot-still was the only one which should be employed. The difference between a potstill and a patent still is that in the case of the former there is a pot into which the material is placed, and distilled in the usual way. That still cannot rectify to any great extent, but with the patent still the spirit may be rectified up to any strength, until it even becomes perfect ether, and will evaporate in the air. There is also a combination of the pot-still and the rectifier, which is used to a large extent in certain parts of France for the making of brandy. The Government follow the recommendation of the Commission, so far as regards brandy, only increasing the strength of the brandy that may be distilled up to 40 per cent., and I think that is a very wise course. Another point on which great stress is laid is the maturing of spirit in wood for a given period. It is admitted on all hands by experts that spirits improve according to the length of time thev are stored in wood.


Senator Lt Col Gould - That does not refer to white spirits.


Senator PLAYFORD - I am assured by Mr. Wilkinson, the analyst, that it applies to all spirits. [t5«]-2


Senator Lt Col Gould - The Minister will find that it does not apply to gin and other white spirits


Senator PLAYFORD - All spirits are white originally, and my information is that all spirits improve with age. This is well recognised in Canada, where, for a great many years, there has been a law in force that no spirits there distilled shall be sold until, they have been kept in bond for two years.


Senator Lt Col Gould - What kind of spirits ?


Senator PLAYFORD - Mostly rye and grain whisky. The Royal Commission very wisely recommend that all spirits distilled in Australia shall be kept in bond for two years before going into consumption, the effect of this storing being to mellow the spirit, and get rid of a considerable quantity of impurities. By this keeping the spirit becomes more wholesome, and, of course, if it can be kept for ten years so much the better. It will be found that the same provision runs right through all the recommendations in regard to spirits.


Senator Lt Col Gould - Does the Minister know from what spirit gin is made ?


Senator PLAYFORD - It is made from a very highly rectified spirit.


Senator Lt Col Gould - From which all impurities are cleared, and, therefore, there is no advantage in keeping it.


Senator PLAYFORD - I know that gin is flavoured with juniper berries, and that it is so difficult to deal with, that Sykes' hydrometer does not disclose its strength. The recommendation of the Commission is -

Blended brandy distillled partly from grape wine and partly from other materials containing not less than 25 per cent, of pure grape wine spirit (which shall have been separately distilled by the pot still or a similar process at a strength not exceeding 35 per cent, over proof), the whole being matured by storage in wood for a period not less than two years, and certified by a Commonwealth analyst to be brandy so blended and matured - per gallon, ns. (3s. less than import).

The Government have agreed to that recommendation, but they have inserted another condition at the recommendation, principally, of those interested in the industry in South Australia. First, . we have brandy, and then we have blended wine brandy, and we provide that this blended wine brandy shall not be blended with any spirit except wine spirit. The

Commissionrecommended that this blended wine brandy might be blended with any spirit, no matter from what material it was made, so long as it contained 25 per cent, of pot stilled brand v spirit. The Government do not believe in calling a spirit of that sort brand v in any sense. There is a kind of brandy made in South Australia from grape wine, and which, though not . so strong in essential oils and flavour as other brandies, suits the taste of certain people; and therefore there is the following item in the schedule to the Excise Bill-

Blended wine brandy, distilled from grape wine, and containing not less than 25 per cent, of pure grape wine spirit (which has been separately distilled by a pot still or similar process at a strength not exceeding 40 per cent, over proof! , the whole being matured by storage in wood for a period not less than two years, and certified by an officer to be brandy so -blended and matured, per proof gallon, 11s.

It is provided that in the mixing, a wine spirit must be used, and not a spirit blended from other material. Spirits distilled from cheap products must not be used. If there is blending, it must be with some of the best spirits obtained, and not with inferior spirits made from potatoes, and so forth. Now I come to deal with whisky, which is given a protective duty ' of 4s. on account of the expense of the materials used. Whisky properly so called, is distilled wholly from barley malt, and nothing else; if the spirit be distilled from any other material, it is not whisky. I know that in various parts of the world whiskies are distilled in all sorts of ways, and generally contain 25 per cent., and sometimes as low as 17 and 18 per cent., of malt. If ordinary grain is crushed, it cannot be fermented, but if there be mixed a certain percentage of barley malt, the starch of the grain is converted into sugar, and the alcohol obtained. With a view to letting^ honorable senators know how the spirit which we call whisky is made, I may say that in both the Irish and Scotch distilleries, it is the practice to put into the mash tub 42 bushels of malt, 25 bushels .of oats, 25 bushels of rye, and 158 bushels of ordinary crushed barley. That gives about 250 bushels ; and only 42 bushels of malt are required to turn the whole of the starch in the grain into sugar; and the result is that 14 gallons of spirit is obtained for every six bushels. Then there are blended spirits of various kinds, with a small foundation of pure malt whisky, and the balance is made up of all sorts of spirits, according to the conscience of the blender. It is possible, on the Continent of Europe, to buy spirits for 6d., ad., or is. per gallon, according to the character of the spirit one desires to buy. A man can buy these spirits, which are highly rectified, and blend them in the proportion of 75 per cent, to 25 per cent, of malt whisky, and with a- little flavouring and colouring he can ship them all over the world as whiskies. They are not whiskies in the true sense of the word, and, in the same way, many so-called brandies are not brandy. Brandy can be bought at 2s. 6d., and at even a lower price, per gallon. But such a brandy was never made from wine. It could not be made at the price. Whiskies can be bought at even lower prices, but they cannot have been made from barley malt. The evidence of experts plainly shows that it is impossible to make whisky from barley malt, for less than 4s. 6d. per gallon. The Commission have recommended that the highest protective duty should be given in respect of the spirit manufactured from the. most expensive, and that' is from the best material. There can be no doubt that wine spirit is the best spirit that can be produced. I have referred to the recommendation with respect to brandy, and the Commission recommend a similar duty in the case of whisky made from barley malt. The proposal is made in respect of whisky distilled wholly from barley malt by a pot still or similar process, at a strength not exceeding 45 per cent, overproof. There is here a rise of 5 per cent, in the strength at which the spirit is to be distilled, because if distilled at that strength" there will be less impurities in it. Such a spirit matured by storage in wood for a period of not less than two years, and certified by an officer to be pure malt whisky, is to bear an Excise duty of 10s. per proof gallon. On this question I may say that the evidence is that, while spirits can be improved by maturing in wood, they cannot be improved if matured in glass. Spirits may be kept in glass for twenty or thirty years, and will then be the same as when they were bottled. I have never been able to ascertain exactly why spirits undergo a change if matured in wood, and not in glass, but there is no doubt that they do. We, therefore, make provision for the maturing of spirits in wood, and not in bottles or in iron tanks.


Senator Lt Col Gould - In the old country gin is matured in iron tanks.


Senator PLAYFORD - I was not aware of that. Then we deal with blended whisky, and the only alteration we have made in that case is that we have not allowed the use of any material other than grain. We deal with -

Blended whisky distilled partly from barley malt and partly from other grain.

We have not included in this item whisky distilled from materials other than grain, such as molasses, spirits, or spirits produced from materials other than grain. In this case the Excise duty fixed is11s. per proof gallon, and the difference between that and the Customs duty of 14s. per gallon gives a protective duty of 3s. per gallon. In the case of rum, we provide for a protection of 2s. per gallon. Previously, the protection given to locally-distilled rum was only1s. per gallon. In the case of gin, we provide that it shall be -

Distilled from barley malt, grain, or grape wine, matured by storage in wood for a period of not less than two years, and certified by an officer to be pure gin. and in that case the Excise duty fixed is 12s. per gallon, and the protection afforded to the local article is 2s. per gallon. It has been said that a mistake has been made in providing that gin shall be matured in wood for two years, because if it is kept in wood it becomes discoloured. I have a sample here of Bol's gin, the best on the market. It has been matured in wood for two years and over, and honorable senators will be able to see that no discoloration of the spirit has taken place. We contend that the keeping of gin will tend to improve the quality of the spirit just as it improves the quality of brandy, whisky, and rum.


Senator Lt Col Gould - The Minister will find that scientific evidence is against that.


Senator PLAYFORD - I do not know what better evidence honorable senators can have than the samples which I produce. This is a sample of the best gin in the market, and it is marked at 8s. 6d. per gallon, which, I suppose, is the wholesale price. It is known to the Customs Department to have been kept in wood for two years, and there is no discolouration of the spirit. I have another sample here of bulk gin, which was produced in New South Wales. It is a good spirit; it has been kept in wood for over two years, and the discolouration is of the slightest character, possibly due to the fact that the wood in which it has been matured was different to that in which the previous sample was matured.


Senator Mulcahy - Both are slightly discoloured.


Senator PLAYFORD - We contend that gin can be kept as long as any other spirit, and is improved by maturing. Honorable senators will agree that the gin, samples of which I have shown them, would not have been kept all the time it has been if it was not believed that the spirit was improved by being matured. Customs officers and an analyst have told me that gin improves by keeping.


Senator Lt Col Gould - That statement is not borne out by the scientific evidence which was given before a House of Commons Committee.


Senator PLAYFORD - Some evidence on the subject may have been given after I left the Tariff Commission, and honorable senators who are members of the Commission, may have something to say about it.


Senator Findley - Were the samples exhibited by the Minister kept in wood by the Customs Department, or by the agents ?


Senator PLAYFORD - They were kept in bond, no doubt in a bonded warehouse. The casks of spirits have remained in the bond for over two years, and officers of the Customs Department took the samples I have exhibited from them. On spirits n.e.i. the Excise duty proposed is 13s. per gallon, which gives a protection of1s. per gallon. The dutyproposed on spirit for scientific purposes, subject to regulations, is 13s. per gallon. That duty gives a protection of1s. per gallon. There is not very much of that spirit required, but a little is used for scientific purposes. Some of our universities require it to preserve beetles, lizards, snakes, and other specimens. A highly-rectified spirit is required for this purpose, and it must contain no impurities or flavouring. I come now to deal with the question of methylated spirits. This is a very important question, and I have a great deal of information on the subject with which I do not propose to trouble honorable senators to-night. Methylated spirits are used for a variety of purposes, and are to some extent displacing kerosene gas, and petroleum for lighting purposes, and they are also used for generating power for motors. Germany ' was the first country to give facilities to people to obtain methylated spirits as cheaply as possible for use for all sorts of purposes. We are quite willing to do all that we possibly can to encourage the use of methylated spirits, but the trouble the Customs have had in the past and that was experienced in Germany for a long time, and to a certain extent even now, is that the material which is put into spirits to methylate them, and render them unfit for human consumption can be got out again. Wood naphtha is the principal material used to methylate spirits, and such spirits can be refined, and then used for the manufacture of essences, scents, and even for drinking purposes. That, of course, is against the law. The Tariff Commission took a great deal of evidence on this point, and I remember that in Sydney valuable evidence was given by a gentleman who gave an exhibition of lights that could be produced by the use of methylated spirits. In the spirits Bill honorable senators will find that provisions are included relating to the methylation of spirits, the method to be adopted for the purpose, and so on. If they will turn to clause 13 they will find that it is provided that there shall be four classes of methylated spirits, first of all, industrial spirits for use in the arts and manufactures, then mineralized spirits for lighting, heating, and power purposes ; spirits for special manufactures ; and spirits to be used for purposes of scientific investigation in connexion with universities or public institutions. Spirits for use in scientific investigation are to be treated and dealt with in a manner to be prescribed. . That is to say, we shall take all sorts of precautions to see that they are used for the purposes for which they are intended. Then provision is made to the effect that -

No methylated spirits' shall be used in the manufacture or preparation of any articles of food or drink, or of any scents, essences, tinctures, or medicines.

A penalty is provided for refining methylated spirits, and for selling illicit methylated spirits. Provision is made for the forfeiture of illicit methylated spirits, and there are other provisions dealing with spirits containing methylated substances; spirits methylated before the passing of the Bill, and also provisions under which the mode of methylating is prescribed. The Commission recommend, not only treatment by wood naphtha, but also treatment by pyridine liquid and colouring matter, so as to discolour the spirit, as this sample has been treated. I have more information on the question of methylated spirits; but, as the hour is getting late, I shall refer honorable senators to the report of the Commission, where it is most exhaustively dealt with. The Bill adopts its recommendation that methylated spirits shall be admitted free, instead of being dutiable at 6d. per gallon. The duty on spirit for fortifying Australian wine, subject to regulations, has been is. per gallon, but, in accordance with the recommendation of the Commission, it is reduced in the Excise Bill to 6d. per gallon.


Senator Lt Col NEILD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Col. Gould. - Has the honorable senator any idea what the reduction in the revenue will be?


Senator PLAYFORD - I am very sorry to say that it will be pretty heavy. When the report of the Commission was received, the Government obtained from their officers a report as to the extent to which the revenue would be affected by the adoption of its recommendations. The Commission did not recommend an increase in the import duties, and, therefore, we had to ascertain what the probable loss would be, and our officers estimated it at from £60,000 to £80,000 per annum.


Senator Lt Col NEILD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Col. Gould. - Does that contemplate an increased consumption of locally-made spirit and a proportionate reduction in the consumption of imported spirit ?


Senator PLAYFORD - Yes. Of course, the increased consumption of locally-made spirit will reduce the importation of foreign spirit, because, while the latter is dutiable at 14s. per gallon, the Excise duties on locally-made spirit range from 4s. to 6d. per gallon. As the adoption of the Commission's recommendations was estimated by our officers to involve an annual loss of from £60,000 to £80,000, the Government recommended the other House to increase the Customs duty to 15s. per gallon, and the Excise duty by is. per gallon all round, which would have given the same amount" of protection as the vignerons had enjoyed before, and which would have caused, if anything, an addition to the revenue, instead of the loss which we shall now have to sustain in consequence of the House having disapproved of our proposal.


Senator Lt Col Gould - Can the Minister say what is estimated as the proportion of increase and decrease respectively?


Senator PLAYFORD - No ; I could only make a pure guess. If honorable sena- tors will turn now to the Spirits Bill, which is practically a machinery measure, they will see that clause 3 contains definitions of "medicines," "methylated spirits," " illicit methylated spirits," and " Australian standard brandy." For years there was sold in Great Britain, and in the Colonies, a so-called brandy. It contained so small a proportion of brandy that it was a misnomer to so call it. At last it was given a name, and called " brandy of commerce." It is made up of partly wine spirit - that is, real brandy - and partly spirit derived from we do not know what source. We can guess that it comes from the cheapest possible source, but we do not know. It is a highly rectified spirit, and, therefore, flavourless. It is mixed with a certain proportion of brandy, and flavoured with a certain quantity of fusel oil, and other aldehydes which are the product of real wine brandy, and which are manufactured for the purpose of flavouring and so on. In England, steps have been taken to prevent the sale of that kind of brandy, and the authorities have insisted that brandy shall consist practically of pure wine spirit. A law on the subject has been passed, and chemists have been appointed who have examined brandies. There have been a great many prosecutions in consequence of persons having sold as brandy that which was not brandy. The Imperial Government are now working in conjunction with the French Government, who give to the manufacturers of brandies a white label on which they certify that they are manufactured from the juice of the grape, and the certificates are accepted by the Customs in England as a sign that it is pure brandy. The same thing has prevailed in Australia. Brandies have been made up in all sorts of ways, and the result has been that there has been hardly anything like a pure brandy to be found in the market. One may get something in the shape of pure brandy in Martell's, and, possibly, in Hennessy's, though I could not swear to that. The Commission recommended, I think very wisely, the enactment of legislation to the effect that a man shall be allowed to sell spirit no matter how it may have been derived, under all sorts of noms de plume, if he likes, but that he shall not be allowed to call it brandy unless it is brandy. The wine growers and distillers of brandy had complained to the Commission that thev were hampered, and that their business had been taken away to a large extent through the Commonwealth allowing brandies to be placed on the market with which they could not compete, which were not brandies at all, but perfect frauds. Therefore, the Commission recommended that it should be enacted that if a person sells in the Commonwealth a spirit which he calls brandy, and which is proved not to be brandy, he shall be prosecuted. It recommended that the Australian manufacturer be allowed to distil his brandy under the supervision of Customs' officers, and that after it has been kept for two years, he shall be allowed to sell it with a brand which will be certified by the Government, and which will comprise the words "Australian Standard Brandy," so that the public mav know exactly what they are getting. The definition also provides that " Australian Standard Brandy " shall be distilled wholly from grape wine and under Government supervision, that the spirit, when distilled, shall be put into wood, and stored in a bond, the keys of which will be kept, of course, by the Customs officer, and that, after being stored for two years, it shall be allowed to come out with a certificate that it is " Australian Standard Brandy." There is a like provision in regard to "Australian Blended Wine Brandy." Of course, the Bill contains a provision to prevent importers from bringing in spirits under the denomination of brandy when there is proof that it is not brandy. In the case of the definition of "Australian Standard Malt Whisky." we have the same provision as is applied to wine spirit. It must be made wholly from barley malt. It is not to be called whisky when it is not. If a man distils whisky wholly from malt, he can then place on his casks and bottles the brand " Australian Standard Malt Whisky." Of course, it will have to be kept in wood for a certain time. The definition of "Australian Blended Whisky" is drawn on similar lines, and if any one turns to the brand he will learn that it is a spirit consisting of not less than 25 per cent, of pure malt whisky and 75 per cent, of pure grain whisky. Then we come to the definition of "Australian Standard Rum," and we learn that it is a rum which complies with certain requisites which are therein stated.


Senator Lt Col Gould - Is it usual to distil rum by a pot still ?


Senator PLAYFORD - Yes, because if it were distilled at a higher percentage than 45 per cent, over proof the flavour would be lost. The clause contains no provision about gin, which is dealt with in the Excise Bill. It can be distilled from any spirit. It is usually distilled at a very high percentage of spirit - up to 60, and in certain cases to 65 per cent., when it is practically a pure spirit. It will then take any flavour which may be desired. It has no flavour of its own. After the sugar is put in, juniper berries and certain other flavouring matters are added, which obscure the spirit to a certain extent. As gin is always sold white, certain importers have stated that they do not want to have the spirit matured in bond for two years. It will be observed that clause 5 repeals sections 90 and 91, and paragraph s of section 229 of the Customs Act. That refers to the methylation of spirits, which the Minister is given power in the Excise Tariff Bill to deal with. By clause 6 the Distillation Act is amended by omitting from section 58 certain words in reference to the fortification of wine, which can be dealt with under the Excise Tariff Bill. The Bill contains provisions in regard to certificates and marking in relation to spirits, forging of falsely applying spirit marks, penalty for describing spirits wrongfully, and imported spirits being matured. If the Bill were applied immediately to imported spirits, or even to spirits which are in bond or which' have been distilled locally, it might create a short supply of spirits in the market. Clause ro, having reference to the maturing of imported spirits, is to apply generally after the 28th "February, 1907, but it contains this proviso -

This section shall not, until the ist day of January, 1908, apply to gin, Geneva, Hollands, schnapps, or liqueurs.

After which date they will have to be matured in the same way as other spirits, by storage in wood for a period of not less than two years. If a man has had spirits in bond for two years, whether imported or locally distilled, of course he will be able to take them out at any time. Clause 11, which provides for the maturing in wood for two years of Australian spirit, is not to be operative until the ist January. 1908.


Senator Lt Col NEILD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Col. Gould. - Why make a difference of one year between locally-made and imported spirit?


Senator PLAYFORD - There seems to be no necessity for a difference - and there is no difference - in the case of gin, Geneva, and Hollands. There will be no trouble about them; there are large quantities in bond.


Senator Lt Col Gould - There will be seme trouble in getting certificates.


Senator PLAYFORD - The Customs officers will be especially careful not to put the importers to unnecessary trouble. Of course, I can imagine cases where the importers will be in a difficulty about producing proof.


Senator Lt Col Gould - There is always a great deal of difficulty in complying with the requirements of the Customs, because of the difficulty of getting certificates.


Senator PLAYFORD - I. have heard of no complaints up to the present. The Bill also contains provisions regarding inferior spirits unsuitable for human consumption, which are to be destroyed. I may remark that we are going to be more particular in the future than we have been in the past as to the quality of the spirits imported into Australia. There are provisions with regard to methylated spirits and their use, and severe penalties are imposed on persons who put methylated spirits in articles of food, drink, essences, or medicines. There are also the usual provisions, to which I presume some honorable senators will take exception, giving the Min.ister power to make regulations. But I think it will be generally admitted that such a power is necessary in regard to a Bill like this. I have pointed out instances where the recommendations of the Tariff Commission have not been adhered to. for reasons which appear to the Government to be good and sufficient. But I must say that the value of the reports of the Commission cannot be over-estimated. I must pay my tribute of admiration to the elaborate manner in which the Commission collected evidence, and to the exhaustive, though not teo detailed, character of its reports. They supply honorable senators with a mass of most valuable information, excellently compiled, and well worthy of careful perusal. I now submit the Bill for the consideration of the Senate, and thinK that I may safely say that I shall not have much trouble in securing its passage.

Debate (on motion by Senator Pulsford) adjourned.







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