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Wednesday, 15 August 1906

Mr FISHER (Wide Bay) . - I think that, owing to the new proposal which the Government has made, it is appropriate that we should adjourn now, so that we may have an opportunity of considering the scheme. The proposal is entirely new. It has not been even hinted at by that celebrated Commission whose investigations were supposed to reach to the last of these important matters. The proposal appears to me to be inequitable, because it excludes a certain spirit without naming it. I care nothing as to what the Committee may decide in a direct, open, and straightforward manner, but we ought not to hide our meaning in a cloud of words which would be interpreted to mean one thing and one thing only. If we mean to exclude spirit made from molasses or from any grains, let us state that clearly and be done withit ; but I shall not support the Government proposal drafted as it is.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - They allow rice spirit, rye spirit, and maize spirit to be used in blends of brandy.

Mr FISHER - All grain spirits are allowed to be used, spirit from molasses only is excepted.

Mr Watson - They are all much dearer than molasses spirit, and therefore they are getting greater protection.

Mr FISHER - Exactly. I have no objection to the position taken up by the honorable member, but let us say that we intend to penalize molasses spirit, because it is better and cheaper.

Mr Watson - Not to penalize it, but to give more protection to the spirits which are dearer.

Mr FISHER - Let it be remembered that certain distilleries have been built up since the Federal Tariff was imposed.

Mr Watson - Where?

Mr FISHER - In Queensland.

Mr Watson - In" New South Wales molasses, spirit was distilled long before the Commonwealth Tariff was introduced.

Mr FISHER - Let us see the figures for New South Wales. In 1900 no spirit was distilled in that State; but in 1905 655o3:t gallons were distilled.

Mr Watson - No spirit distilled in New South Wales !

Mr FISHER - I shall read the passage from the report of the Tariff Commission -

From a return prepared by the Department of Customs it will be seen that a great increase has taken place in the production of spirit in New South Wales : -


The duty of the Tariff Commission was to inquire into the effect of the Tariff. Here is an industry which has grown up to this extent in New South Wales, and yet it is proposed by a side issue to wipe it out.

Mr Hutchison - No.

Mr Bamford - Does the honorable member mean to say that the whole of the spirit distilled in New South Wales has been used in the manufacture of brandy ?

Mr FISHER - No. It cannot be denied that in New South Wales arn industry has been brought into existence by the operation of the Federal Tariff. Tt is now proposed by the Government to make the difference between the Excise duty on molasses spirit and the import duty is., and in the case of every other spirit-

Mr Deakin - Every spirit except those defined here is in the same position.

Mr FISHER - What does the honorable member define in the last paragraph - that grain spirit shall have a protection of 2s. per gallon? Is not that a differentia tion ?

Mr Deakin - I said so, but only a differentiation of is., and that covers every other spirit except this particular kind.

Mr FISHER - Exactly ; but every grain spirit is in a better position than molasses spirit.

Mr Kelly - Grain spirits vary.

Mr FISHER - All grain spirits get is. more protection than does molasses spirit. What other spirit is the differentiation against?

Mr Watson - Potato spirit.

Mr FISHER - Potato spirit only. I submit that we ought to hear the members of the Tariff Commission on this point. If the members of that body, who have said so much about their report and declared that they would not have it interfered with, are supporting this proposal, I am surprised at their attitude. I hold that an alteration of this kind should be made at a time when it could receive fuller consideration.

Mr Deakin - I pointed out that the schedule will come up again for consideration. . ,

Sir John Quick - The grain spirit is to include 25 per cent, of grape wine spirit.

Mr FISHER - My idea of carrying on the Government of .the Commonwealth is, in matters of taxation, to tell the people exactly what we intend to do in the plainest possible manner, because they will then be in a position to deal with us at the general elections.

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