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Monday, 24 September 1906

Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania) . - I desire to give honorable senators a little more information on the subject. I propose, first, to quote Mr. Daniel Ferguson, Senior Inspector of Excise for Victoria, as to the alcoholic strength of wine- 2028. I suppose that wine containing more than 40 per cent. of proof spirit is practically spirit ? - A glass of wine containing 35 per cent. of proof spirit would consist of more than onethird of proof spirit.

Senator Drake - The public do not know that.

Senator CLEMONS - That is the position which, I think, has sometimes been overlooked. We have to recognise that, if wine were allowed to be fortified up to 35 per cent., a consumer of the wine would drink one-third of proof spirit.

Senator Mulcahy - Even strong whisky is 17 per cent. under proof.

Senator CLEMONS - Yes. I desire to give some information on the question of fortifying up to 35 or 40 per cent., as tested by the importations. In reply to question 2034, Mr. Ferguson said -

The consignments tested at the Customs House during 1904 for alcoholic strength amounted to 11 hogsheads, 219 casks, 137 quarter-casks, 17 octaves, and So cases; but the only consignments which exceeded a strength of 35 per cent. proof spirit were 33 casks, of which 12 still remain in bond ; 15 quarter-casks, of which 1 still remains in bond; and 25 cases, of which 6 still remain in bond.

That is to say, a very small proportion of the imported wines contain over 35 per cent. - 2035. How many gallons were there containing more than 35 per cent. of proof spirit? - I do not think more than 2,000 gallons.

In view of that fact, surely it is not desirable to allow Australian wine to be fortified above 35 per cent. - 2037. BySenator Playford - I understand that most of the casks contained only a few points over 35 per cent. of proof spirit? - Yes. 2038. Do you think that the quantity imported containing over 33 per cent. of proof spirit would seriously affect the local industry? - No.

Senator Millen - Mr. Ferguson was an official witness ?

Senator CLEMONS - Yes, and he told the Commission quite plainly, in answer to those questions, that the quantity of imported wine, which is supposed to he heavy and strong in alcohol, over 35 per cent. is extremely limited.

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