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Thursday, 16 August 1906

Mr WATSON (Bland) .- Since this question was under consideration last evening, I have, in common with other honorable members, given it some attention, and it has been borne in upon me would be altogether unwise for us to put the official seal of the Commonwealth upon spirit purporting to be brandy, but which is not brandy. We have to consider the effect of the proposed classification, not only upon the spirits put upon the market for local consumption, but upon those intended for export. We have, perhaps, the greatest area of wine-growing country in the world, and there is every prospect of our being able to develop a splendid export trade in brandy. I understand that one of the South Australian distillers is already exporting to I ranee large quantities of pure .grape brandy, which is no doubt being matured there, and sold as French brandy. That being so, it seems that if we officially labelled as brandy spirits which are made to the extent of three-parts from grain, we should prejudice the sale of' our pure wine brandy. Even though spirit were called grain brandy, the fact that it was put forth bearing a Commonwealth. Customs label, certifying that it was brandy, would tend to prejudice the sale of the real brandy that might be exported. Therefore, the third paragraph proposed by the Government does not commend itself to me. I understand that it has never been the practice anywhere to blend grain spirit with wine spirit, but that molasses spirit is mixed with wine spirit in the brandy of commerce.

Mr Maloney - Silent spirit is used.

Mr WATSON - Of course, ' the spirit has to be highly rectified. It is said that grain spirit has characteristics which do not accord with those of wine spirit, and that for that reason a blend of the two spirits is not likely to suit the tastes of the multitude. In any case, the main objection that occurs to me is that it is unwise to class as brandy anything but the product of the grape. If we desire to engender confidence in the brandy which bears the official label of the Commonwealth, we should reject paragraph 3, and subject blends such as are therein indicated to an Excise duty of 13s. per gallon. We must remember that we have fixed the import duty at 14s. per gallon, and that some of us believe that that will result in a loss of revenue. It is certain that a further loss of revenue would be incurred if we fixed the Excise duty upon the class of spirits referred to in paragraph 3 at 12 s. per gallon. I am willing to extend a* fair degree of protection to the producers of good brandy, or malt whisky, but I do not see any particular reason why something which would injure our brandy trade should receive special consideration. For these reasons I am inclined to vote against paragraph No. 3, and place the spirits therein indicated under the head of spirits n.e.i., which will be subject to a duty of 13s.

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