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Monday, 24 September 1906

Senator PLAYFORD (South AustraliaMinister of Defence) .- The report of the Tariff Commission is plainly in favour of permitting fortification up to 40 per cent.

Senator Clemons - The Commission was not unanimous on the point.

Senator PLAYFORD - On page 13 of the report of the Tariff Commission No. 2, references are made to this subject. I do not know that I need read all those references, but I may say that it is pointed out that, so far as the consumption of wine within the Commonwealth is concerned, fortification up to 40 per cent, is not necessary. As pointed out by Senator Mc'Gregor, it does not pav to fortify wines up to the degree mentioned. It is unprofitable, as adding to the cost of production, to extract a gallon of spirits out of some 5 gallons of ordinary wine, and to use that spirit for the fortification of other wines up to 40 ner cent. I can assure Senator Neild that there is no danger of those highly fortified wines getting into the military canteens, except, of course, ports and sherries, which must be fortified to a certain degree. We must recollect that now the whole of the spirit used for the fortification of wine must be distilled from the grape, and that is a very expensive form of distillation, seeing that a gallon of spirits cannot be made under 4s. 6d. As has been pointed out, however, if certain Australian wines are to compete in England they must be fortified up to 40 per cent.

Senator Clemons - That is a great mistake.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - It is not necessary to fortify to that extent the wines intended for the English market.

Senator McGregor - Not claret.

Senator Clemons - Nor hocks and chablis.

Senator McGregor - But there are ports and sherries.

Senator PLAYFORD - Here-is a statement of the Tariff Commission on page 13 of their progress report No. 3 -

The wine wanted for export must contain at least 20 per cent, of alcohol, and must be a heavy-bodied, fruity wine. - (Q. 1841). A few years back growers and merchants used to ship red dry wine, but now the leading merchants told them that they wanted fruity burgundies. They had not been able to get the London market for ports, because they had not been allowed to fortify them up to 40 per cent.

Here we have the reason why 40 per cent, is recommended. A little lower down, we read -

If Australia is going to open up large markets in other parts of the world, it will be necessary that its wines should be fortified up to thi: standard of well-known European types, such as ports and sherries, which contain 40 per cent. Fortifying up to 40 per cent, is not required in Australia for internal use to anything like the extent it would be required in opening up an export trade. - (Q. 1712).

If this is a digest of the evidence, it is in favour of allowing fortification up to 40 per cent, upon the assumption that we desire to encourage the export trade. It is admitted that such fortification is not necessary for the Australian market; and, in any case, 40 per cent, is the maximum. I think we should be wise to allow the clause to pass.

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