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Wednesday, 15 August 1906

Sir JOHN QUICK (Bendigo) -- In order to give the Committee an opportunity to determine whether the import duty on spirits should be increased, I move -

That after the amount " 15s.," line 17, the following words be inserted : - " and, on and after 16th August, 14s."

This question has been already fully discussed, and I do not propose to travel over, ground already covered. As Chairman of the Tariff Commission I am pledged to stand by its recommendations, which were ba sed ' on the assumption that there would be no increase in the import duty. Last night I gave the reasons why the Commissioners thought that . the import duty should net be increased, while recommending a reduction in the Excise dutv. Under the operation of the Tariff which we are now amending, there has been an enormous increase in the revenue derived from spirits, especially under the Excise duties. As will be seen from the statement made on page 45 of our report, the production of spirits in Australia in 1899 was 737,200 proof gallons, and in 1905 1,506,339 proof gallons, so that the production practically doubled, the revenue increasing correspondingly from ^147:935 to ,£267,454. The increase in production was due chiefly to the distillation of molasses spirit in Queensland and New South Wales, and one of the reasons why the whisky distil leries in Victoria were suffering so much was that the market was being swamped with that spirit. One of the objects of the scheme of reconstructed Excise duties was therefore to differentiate between various classes of spirits according to the cost of production, and it is believed that a substantial reduction in the Excise duties without- a corresponding increase in the import duties can be brought about without injuriously affecting the revenue, or reducing it below the standard anticipated and provided for bv the Tariff launched by the right honorable member for. Adelaide in 1901. The Commissioners thought that the increase of revenue from Excise duties had been so large tHat the duties could be lowered without makins it necessary to increase the import duties, which would result in an unnecessary disturbance of the retail and wholesale trade in spirits.

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