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Wednesday, 15 August 1906

Mr WATSON (Bland) .- When I interjected about distilling in New South Wales prior to Federation, T thought that my memory was not quite so much at fault as the extract quoted by the honorable member for Wide Bay would perhaps lead one to believe. The extract is quite correct as it was quoted, but I find that just prior to Federation distillation had ceased in the State owing to the fact that the Excise and import duties had been made equal. Some years prior to Federation, however, the distilleries of the State were producing a great deal of spirit, and I had that fact in mind when I spoke. No doubt the honorable member for Wide Bay is correct in saying that the difference between; the Excise and Customs duties imposed by the Federal Tariff have had a beneficial effect on the distilling industry of New South Wales.

No attempt is now being made to injure that industry. What is proposed is that the Excise duty on molasses spirit shall remain as it is, namely, 13s., or is. less than the import duty.

Mr Tudor - But molasses spirit is prohibited in connexion with the manufacture of brandy, blended brandy, and malt whisky.

Mr WATSON - Yes, because it is desired to give a special degree of protection to spirits produced from materials which are a great deal more costly than molasses or potatoes. For this reason, the Excise duty on pure grape spirit has been made as low as ios. The action of the Committee in agreeing to that duty was an admission of the principle that we are justified in giving special consideration to spirits distilled from costly material. So far as the preservation of the public health is concerned, it is said by some that a blended grain whisky is as wholesome as a pure malt, whisky. I see nothing to prevent the distillers of molasses spirit from placing it on the market, though if they do so they must pay an Excise duty of 13s. They will not be able to call it by any of the names mentioned in the schedule, but they could do as Messrs. Joshua Brothers do in naming their spirit merely " Boomerang." Provision is made for the use of the terms "pure Australian brandy," "pure Australian malt whisky," "blended wine brandy," and "blended grain whisky."

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - They could call it sugar brandy.

Mr WATSON - I think so. We now have on the market cherry brandy and other brandies which are not true brandies.

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