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Wednesday, 15 August 1906

Mr BATCHELOR (Boothby) .- The honorable and learned member for Parkes has described the Commission as a jury, and has declared that its findings, based on the evidence which it has heard, ought to be accepted as final by the Committee. I would point out, however, that the Commission was. not appointed to prepare a Tariff; it was appointed to take evidence, to report, and to make certain recommendations which would be considered, and, if thought fit, adopted by the Committee. The fact that it has made certain recommendations should not be sufficient to induce the Committee to abrogate their functions as a jury. We are responsible to our constituents and the country, and we must discharge those functions by examining the evidence. If we think that the Commission has made a mistake, it will be our duty not to adept its recommendations, but to act according to the best knowledge that we possess.

Mr Isaacs - Suppose that they do not agree ?

Mr BATCHELOR - The fact that the members of the Commission are unanimous lends additional weight to their recommendation, but it does not remove from us the necessity of deciding for ourselves whether that recommendation unanimously arrived at is a wise one. The Tariff Commission has undoubtedly carried out a monumental work, and I feel under a debt of obligation to it.

Mr Deakin - Hear, hear.

Mr BATCHELOR - At the same time, thev cannot call upon us - nor do I think they ask us - to refrain from exercising our own individual judgment on the facts which they have elicited. I certainly think that they have not recommended the best course to be pursued in regard to the differentiation in favour of pure wine brandy. It is admitted that absolutelypure brandy made from wine is perfectly wholesome, and that the encouragement of its manufacture must have a beneficial effect on the primary producers of the Commonwealth. There are something like 56,000 acres under vine cultivation in South Australia, and I understand that in Victoria alone there are some 3,000 wine growers interested in this question. The number in South Australia is probably much greater, whilst the number in Western Australia and New South Wales is largely increasing.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I hope that the honorable member will not forget the consumer.

Mr BATCHELOR - I have just said that it must be admitted by members of the Tariff Commission, and others, that pure brandy made wholly from grape spirit is the most wholesome. It is recommended by medical men, and also, I believe, by the analytical chemist, to whom reference was made by the Chairman of the Commission. That gentleman said that he would prefer grape brandy for medicinal purposes. Since grape brandy is the purest, and the encouragement of its production will be most beneficial to the primary producers, it seems to me that we should strike a serious blow at the development of the industry if we adopted the recommendation of the Tariff Commission. The only argument that I have heard advanced against a differentiation in favour of pure grape brandy spirit is that the manufacturers will benefit by being able to place on 'their labels a statement to the effect that their product is pure. Will that compensate them for the direct encouragement that is to be offered to distillers to use a cheaper article, from which they can make the most money ? Certainly not. The fact that a bottle is labelled " pure brandy " will have little effect upon purchasers. At the present time brandy which used to be labelled " Boomerang Australian brandy " is now labelled merely " Boomerang," but I am certain that not one out of every hundred persons who purchase that spirit has noticed the omission of the words "Australian brandy." Indeed, I know that one of the largest wine and spirit merchants here had not noticed it until his attention was specially directed to it, although he has been dealing constantly in the spirit. It is a good thing to encourage the consumption of the purest and 'the most wholesome brandy, and we should therefore see that the distillation of pure brandy from grape wine only is not discouraged by there being a greater profit in the distillation of a blended brandy from grape wine and other materials. It is at present to the advantage of distillers that as little grape wine spirit as possible shall be used, because spirit distilled from other materials' is so much cheaper. The Chairman of the

Tariff Commission says that they will go on using 50 per cent, or more of grape wine spirit, but the temptation to make a larger profit by using other spirit will soon prove too strong to be resisted, while there is also the popular prejudice in favour of blended brandies to be reckoned with. Therefore, in view of the advantage of encouraging the consumption of the best and purest article, and in the interests of an industry which is of great importance to Australia, I hope that a greater differentiation will be made between pure and blended brandy.

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