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Thursday, 29 May 1930

Criticism of the bounty paid on Australian sweet wines exported, was made by the chairman of Vino Products Ltd. (Sir Reginald H. Blade) at the annual meeting of that company held in London. He referred to the trade in Dominion wines conducted by the company, and said that the South African interests of the company were developing satisfactorily. The progress made in the sale of Empire wines would have been greater had the market not been influenced by the surplus stock of Australian wines which had not been cleared up since the heavy inrush of supplies when the bounty on wine was first decreased in 1027. The heavy surplus had resulted in' forced sales of Australian wines, which had depressed the market. "The export bounty given by the Australian Government," said Sir Reginald Brade, " changes with the wind or with the change of Government, I am not sure which. In any case, far from being beneficial to the Australian wine industry it has proved detrimental. It has had the effect of lowering the prestige of Australian fortified wines, so that, instead of competing in a profitable field against medium quality ports and other Continental fortified wines, they now rank with those of lower price and strength." He pointed out that the vagaries in the export bounty had involved London merchants and companies in loss and had tended to discredit the whole trade in Empire wines. He suggested that the preference given to Empire wines was being lost to other Dominions by the action of Australia, which, in granting a bounty on exports, was practically cancelling the preference given by Great Britain to South Africa and Cyprus. Sir Reginald Brade praised the quality and . careful marketing of South African wines and predicted that eventually they would secure the foremost place among Dominion wines sold in Great Britain.

South African wines go on to the British market without the assistance of a bounty. I contend that the payment of a bounty specifically to assist our wines to be placed on the British market in competition with those from another Dominion, prejudices our claim for a continuance of preferential treatment under the United Kingdom tariff. We should be wary how we proceed, lest we add to the already appreciable number in Great Britain who are hostile to the policy of preferential treatment to Australian products. The Senate should carefully consider whether the proposal to increase the bounty by 9d. would not accentuate the glut of our wines on the British market brought about by the 1924 bounty. I was unable to find any reference in the speech of the

Vice-President of the Executive Council to that phase of the matter.

Senator Daly - It is being satisfactorily dealt with by the members of the Wine Marketing Board.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE.It is not clear to me that the surplus of Australian wines in Great Britain has been disposed of.

Senator McLachlan - The stocks of our wines in Great Britain are materially less than they were.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE.I have not seen any figures to indicate that they are less. It is extremely likely that we shall restore that glut if we again stimulate Australian export by the proposed bounty. I shall read a couple of extracts on the subject from the press, which is the only source of information at my disposal. Unlike the Minister, I have not access to departmental statistics. These extracts give rise to some doubts, in my mind. The. first is taken from the West Australian of the 12th February last, and reads -

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