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Monday, 24 September 1906

Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania) . - We should discuss this matter, not so much from the point of view of a man who wants a drink, as in the interests of the Australian export trade. In that connexion, I think that the word "standard" is of great value. Its use will indicate that the brandy to which it is applied is of the highest grade obtainable in Australia. I hope that the word will be retained, not only because the Tariff Commission recommend its use, but because it will be of value in connexion with our export trade.

Senator Sir JOSIAHSYMON (South Australia) [4.19]. - I like to see the loyalty with which the members of the Tariff Commission support its recommendations ; but I would point out to Senator Clemons that the use of the word " standard " will not signify that the spirit to which it is applied is of the highest quality that Australia, can produce.

Senator Clemons - We do not apply it to blended brandy.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - No; but if "standard " means of the highest quality of brandy that Australia could produce, I should say that it would be very useful on a label. It would mean thai it was applied to a brandy which had been distilled in a pot still not exceeding 40 per cent, over proof, matured for two years, and certified to be pure brandy. But mv honorable friend knows perfectly well that we might have an Australian brandy matured for twenty years, which was an infinitely superior article, and which was worthy of being called not standard, but the finest Australian brandy. What would the term " standard " mean in that case? I venture to think that my honorable friends are under a misapprehension. If we define the word " standard " to mean the very highest quality of brandy, matured for fifty years in bottle or wood, that is another thing. But just as one star differs from another in brilliance, so all our brandies would differ in quality. I was astonished to hear Senator Macfarlane, who is a very experienced merchant, trying, to support the definition.

Senator Trenwith - Because he knows.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I know, too. South Australia is probably the State in which the initiative was taken in producing the very finest pure brandy from grape wine, and I believe that it has maintained its reputation to this day. I have nothing to do with its production.

Senator Trenwith - How long have the distillers in South Australia been makins it? 8

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - For a great many years. Certainly, during the last twenty years, the South Australian distillers have been producing a very large quantity of the article. I know of South Australian brandy which is twenty and twenty-five years old. If my honorable friends tell me that by retaining the word "standard" in the definition, it would indicate that brandy two years old was equal to that brandy, I do not share their view. I am perfectly certain that brandy distillers in South Australia, who are proud of their article, are very averse to' the use of the word " standard " for the reason that each of them has his own high standard. Of course, he must comply with the provision as to quality, namely that the spirit must be pure. But if he were compelled to put on his label the word "standard," the brandies would be placed upon the same level no matter how old they might be.

Senator Fraser - But by-and-by there will be such a demand that there will be no brandy over two years old.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I do not agree with my honorable friend. A brandy distiller who wants to maintain a reputation will have a certain quantity which will be far more than two years old. My honorable friends would give him no encouragement if thev retained the word "standard," and said that it should be applied to all that brandy. From a con- versation with the distillers, and from living in South Australia, I happen to know something about the trade. I know that, from the point of view I have put, the use of the word " standard " in the definition is regarded there as having no significance. I am quite with my honorable friends in endeavouring to secure that the article shall be pure Australian brandy. Although I do not think that it is necessary to use the word " pure," still that would be an indication to a man who was buying a case, or a bottle, or a glass of Australian brandy that he was getting a pure article. It is very important that we should maintain the Australian reputation for the quality of the article. The best way in which that could be done would be by making it known all the world over, without using the word " standard " or " pure," as Australian brandy which carried its own certificate on its face.

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