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Tuesday, 18 September 1906

Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania) . - While the import duty is 14s. per gallon on all spirits, the proposed Excise gives a. clear preference of 2s. per gallon to grain and grape spirit over molasses spirit. There is no evidence, so far as I can follow the report of the Tariff Commission, that molasses spirit is unwholesome, though the arguments of Senator Best and of other honorable senators, would lead one to suppose that it is deleterious.

Senator Best - I said quite the contrary.

Senator MACFARLANE - The honorable senator said that molasses spirit was an inferior spirit.

Senator Best - What I say is that molasses spirit is neither whisky nor brandy.

Senator MACFARLANE - Pure spirit is neither whisky nor brandy; "whisky" and " brandy " are distinguished by the flavourings, and not the spirit. If molasses spirit is wholesome, why should we differentiate? The truth is that molasses spirit is an article cheaply and easily produced, and there is a popular belief that such articles are of very little value. I am very much afraid that molasses spirit is getting a bad name simply because it is cheaply and easily produced.

Senator Col Neild - Because it is not produced in Victoria.

Senator MACFARLANE - I shall not say that. But molasses spirit is driving out a great deal of the grain spirit, and, therefore, the production of the latter is to be bolstered up at the expense of the production of the former. It has been contended by very many eminent medical men, and, so far as I can see, not contradicted, that one spirit is as wholesome as the other. Dr. Fiaschi, one of the most eminent medical authorities in Sydney, has said, in effect, that he can say nothing against molasses spirit, that brandy must be made from the grape, and that all spirits for consumption ought to be ten years in the wood. This gentleman has also said that he does not complain of spirit being made from molasses, but that good spirits must be made, and that if it be matured for so many years, its wholesomeness is increased.

Senator Trenwith - The words of Di. Fiaschi, as given in the Tariff Report are - 21186. Speaking generally with reference to the secondary products of spirits, you think that they should be left in a true brandy or a true whisky after the process of distillation ; not that they should be rectified out of the spirit, and afterwards added again. You do not believe in the doctoring up of spirit? - I do not. I believe in getting the best spirit by means of the pot still, and then ageing it.

Senator MACFARLANE - Hear, hear. I contend that brandy and whisky are appreciated because of their impurities.

Senator Playford - So-called impurities.

Senator MACFARLANE - Well, socalled impurities. I take it that the whisky and brandy made by Messrs. Joshua Brothers were not appreciated by the public because, being made out of molasses spirit, the production did not contain the proper impurities - it was not because the spirit was not right, but because the impurities were not there to give the flavouring which the public desired. As to revenue, it seems to me that" we ought to raise the Excise so as to decrease the prospective loss. In Canada, a difference of 2s. per gallon between Customs duty and Excise, has proved sufficient to secure the whole of the trade to the local distillers. Why. then, should there be a difference of 4s. allowed to the distillers of grape or pure malt spirit? I shall be glad in. Committee to support any proposal to increase the Excise dutv. I hope, also, that methylated spirit will not be so handicapped as to interfere with its consumption. I think it was Mr. Knox who, in his evidence stated that if spirits are methylated with certain substances, their lighting, explosive, or propulsive power was decreased. We are looking forward to the time when, as in America, methylated spirits will be used in hundreds of ways for the propulsion of machinery and vehicles, and when we shall not have to endure the unpleasant odour which motor cars now leave behind them.

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