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Thursday, 20 September 1906

Senator DRAKE (Queensland) .- I am sorry that we cannot obtain an estimate of the effect upon the revenue of any alterations that may be proposed in the schedule. We know that the whole schedule is estimated to reduce the revenue by £70,000 or £80,000, but we do not know what will be the effect of an alteration in any particular item. The question of revenue is a serious one. I point out that if the recommendations of four members of the Tariff Commission were carried out - that is to say, if brandy were allowed to come in at a reduced import duty - the effect would be to reduce the amount of protection on the article to 3s. If the second rider attached to the Commission's report' were carried out the effect would be to reduce the protection to 3s. 6d. There is not the slightest possibility of the Government acting upon either of those recommendations in the direction of altering the import duty. But we might safely adopt the recommendation of the members of the Tariff Commission who signed the second rider, so far as the amount of protection is concerned. As four members of the Commission have proposed to reduce the margin to 3s., making the duty ns.y -and two members have proposed to reduce the margin by 6d., which would be equivalent to; altering the Excise to 10s. 6d., I think we might reasonably add 6d. to the Excise for the sake of securing more revenue.

Senator McGregor - The honorable senator is losing sight of the preference to be given to grape and malt spirits.

Senator DRAKE - I do not think that I am. The proposal is to reduce the import duty upon pure malt whisky or pure malt brandy. If that alteration is not made those articles will pay 14s. on importation. Senator McGregor himself recommended that the import duty should be reduced by 6d. That clearly was a proposal to reduce the margin of protection .to 3s. 6d.

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