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Wednesday, 15 August 1906

Mr DEAKIN (Ballarat) (Minister of External Affairs) . - The Committee having altered the import duties from 15s. to 14s., it will be necessary, to maintain the ratio between Excise and import duties recommended by the Tariff Commission, to reduce the proposed Excise duties by is., and the Government are prepared to do so in regard to all the classes of spirits named in the schedule, with the exception of blended brandy, the rate on which we are advised should remain at 12s. The Chairman of the Tariff Commission, speaking last night in regard to the Excise duties, said -

These matters of detail are fairly open to consideration. They are matters upon which even members of the Commission have no very pronounced views- Whether distillation should be at an alcoholic strength of 35 per cent, or 45 per cent, overproof is not a vital question, but it is vital that unless these spirits are distilled at a certain denned strength overproof they shall not receive the preference and advantages which we have recommended.

Our officers suggest that brandy and blended brandy should be distilled at. a strength not exceeding 40 per cent., instead °t 35 Per cent., as set down in the schedule, and that whisky, blended whisky, and rum should be distilled at a strength of 45 per cent., instead of at the respective strengths of 35, 25, and 35 set down in the schedule. These are technical alterations which their experience of the trade leads them to recommend. In paragraph 4 we propose to substitute for the words "other materials" the word "grain," so that it shall read, " Blended whisky distilled partly from barleymalt and partly* from grain."

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable and learned gentleman intend to make that alteration in regard to blended whisky only ?

Mr DEAKIN - I understand that in regard to blended brandy it is to be proposed that it shall be distilled partly from grape wine and partly from " other approved materials."

Mr Glynn - That would leave the matter at the discretion of the Executive.

Mr DEAKIN - Our officers have made no recommendations in regard to blended brandy. We propose to retain the duty on blended brandy at 12s., in order to increase the difference between the duty on brandy distilled wholly from grape wine and the duty on blended brandy.

Mr Watson - Do the Government intend to propose a similar arrangement in regard to whisky ?

Mr DEAKIN - I am not advised that it is necessary. Brandy distilled wholly from grape wine will then have a protection of 4s., that being the difference between the import and Excise duties, while blended brandy will have a protection of only 2s. Whisky distilled wholly from barely malt will have a protection of 4s., and blended whisky a protection of 3s.

Mr Glynn - What will be the duty on molasses spirit?

Mr DEAKIN - If it is spirit for industrial or scientific purposes the duty will be 13s.

Mr Glynn - But molasses spirit may come under the duty provided in paragraph 2.

Mr Hutchison - I propose to exclude it.

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