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Monday, 24 September 1906


Senator McGREGOR (South Australia) . - I intend to adhere to the subclause. Senator Trenwith seems to entertain a doubt as to their effect. The Minister has indicated from his experience the kinds of wine which are most likely to take the market in England, and it is the manufacturers of such wines who are advocating the enactment of the provision. I wish to show Senator Trenwith the ab- . surdity of the idea that wine-makers would fortify wines more than they could help. The Distillation Act provides that Australian wine must be fortified with, spirit distilled from wine. According to all the information I could get, Australian wines naturally contain from 15 to 20 per cent, of alcohol. If a man wanted to make a gallon of wine spirit, and the wine from which it was to be made contained 20 per cent, of alcohol, and that is pretty highhe would need to use 5 gallons. The price of wine generally ranges from 9d. to is. per gallon ; while an inferior wine might cost as low as 7d. If a man required a good spirit, it must be made from a good wine. Using wine that was bought at is. a gallon, it would cost 5s. to make a gallon of spirit, and to that must be added the Excise duty of 6d. If a man wanted to fortify 10 gallons of the same priced wine, he .must use 4 gallons of spirit, for that is the proportion which the provision as to fortification up to 40 per cent, allows.


Senator Millen - No; because there is already some spirit there.


Senator McGREGOR - I am only giving the proportion. Of course, in a quantity a man must allow for the spirit which was already in. the wine.


Senator Mulcahy - Then it would take only s. gallons of spirit for the quantity of wine referred to?


Senator McGREGOR - Suppose that it did, then the 2 gallons would cost 9s. Taking the 10 gallons of wine at is. each, and the 2 gallons of spirit at 4s. 6d. each, the total cost would be 19s., whereas 12 gallons of wine would cost only 12s. Is it likely that a manufacturer of this class of wine would use that quantity of spirit unless it was absolutely necessary ? There was a time in Australia when a wine-maker could .fortify his wine with a spirit that did not cost much more per gallon than the wine itself.


Senator Playford - Not quite so much in some instances.


Senator McGREGOR - Exactly. A gallon of molasses spirit used to cost from 9d. to is. A wine-maker could then profitably fortify wine up to 50 per cent., but under our legislation he cannot do that now, and that is where the safety comes in. If men like Mr. Smith, of Yalumba, and Mr. Salter, and others in the Angaston district, say that, in the interest of the class of wine which they make, fortification up to 40 per cent, is not too high, then, having regard to the cost, I think that it would be only just to such men to give them the opportunity to fortify up to that limit. I wish to say a few words about the wine which we are told makes people drunk. Wine is made containing 20 per cent, of proof spirit, and then 10 per cent, more is added, bringing the total percentage up to 30 per cent. That indicates the 'danger which a person runs in drinking the wine. It only ap- plies, however, to a very cheap wine. It is not likely that a wine-maker would fortify a cheap wine up to 40 per cent., when 25, or 26, or 28 per cent, would be quite sufficient, and that percentage would make a man quite as drunk as he desired to be. Heavy, rich wines will not keep unless thev are fortified, and a large percentage of alcohol is required in order to prevent the second fermentation. That, I believe, is the reason which induced the Tariff Commission to recommend that the percentage of fortification should be increased from 35 to 40 per cent.







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