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Wednesday, 15 April 1931


Senator BARNES (Victoria) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) . - I move-

That the bill be now read a second time.

This is a small measure that is rendered necessary by faults that have been disclosed in the drafting of the principal act. Two of the three amendments proposed by it are merely formal.

Sections 10 to 12 of the Distillation Act deal with the control of stills. Small stills are used in laboratories for scientific and experimental purposes. Their use does not endanger the revenue, and in 1918 section 11a was inserted in the act to provide merely for a formal notification to the Customs Department in respect of stills of a capacity not exceeding one gallon. The amending section was not well drawn. In its present form it is interpreted to mean that notification is required in respect of such stills if used for purposes other than the production of spirits, but not if the stills are used to produce spirits.. Obviously there should be notification in the latter case also.

It is proposed to repeal section 75 of the act, which relates to licensed test stills. Section 13c, which dealt with licences for test stills, was repealed in 1918, and there are now no licensed test stills. Consequently section 75 is redundant. Apparently its repeal was overlooked in 1918.

The other amendment is proposed in consequence of representations made by the Federal Viticultural Council of Australia, and also by prominent winemakers in connexion with the fortification of wines.

Section 59 of the act prohibits the use of spirit for fortification unless the spirit is 30 degrees above proof. The reason for the prohibition is that the lower the strength of the spirit, the greater is the percentage of fusel oil, and other impurities contained in it, and 30 degrees above' proof constitutes a reasonable standard of purity. The use of a low-strength spirit, however, is essential for the production of wines of the highest quality, as it gives to wine> the desired fragrance, bouquet and mellow character. Ten degrees above proof is in this respect a suitable strength. The objectionable features of low-strength spirit disappear if the spirit, or wine containing such spirit, is permitted to mature.

It is proposed, therefore, to permit the

Use of low-strength wine spirit - fixed at not less than 10 degrees above proof - in the fortification of wine, and to keep such wine under customs control for a period of two years, by which time the objectionable features of the spirit will have vanished.

In bringing this proposal before honorable senators, I desire to inform them that its merits were investigated on behalf of the Government by the Chief Inspector of Excise, Mr. Gollan, and by the Honorable J. Gunn, Commonwealth Director of Development, on whose recommendations the Government is now acting.

As 1 have no personal knowledge of the wine industry, I have to be guided by the recommendations of the officers of the department, who, having made the necessary investigations, have informed the Government that this measure is necessary. As the bill is non-contentious I trust that it will have a speedy passage.







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