Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 16 August 1906

Mr McCOLL (Echuca) .- I am extremely surprised that the Committee failed to agree immediately to the proposal submitted by the Government. It seems to be, from every point of view, a most desirable one. If adopted," it will give support to one of our chief products : it will afford a market for the produce of our wine-growers, and, at the same time, will enable us to see that, as far as possible, only pure brandy is offered to the public. We cannot possibly insure to the consumers an absolutely good spirit, for, in the last resort, supervision over the retail houses is necessary to bring about that result. We can, however, absolutely provide that the spirit imported into Australia, and that locally produced, shall be correctly described, so that the people will know what they are drinking. We should also provide that if a man be supplied with that for which he does not ask, the vendor shall be liable to punishment. I am surprised that the honorable member for Wide Bay should have complained so bitterly of the proposal to exclude molasses spirit from blended grain brandy. The arguments are against his contention. The honorable member for Coolgardie has aptly pointed out the difference between the cost of grape spirit and molasses spirit. The cost of the material used in the production of grape spirit is equal to about 2s. 6d. per gallon. Five gallons of wine are required to make one gallon of spirit, and if the vignerons are to receive anything like fair remuneration, that wine cannot be obtained at less than 6d. per gallon, and in' many cases 8d. per gallon has to be paid. Twenty lbs. of maize are required for the distillation of a gallon of proof spirit, and, as maize to-day costs 3s. 6d. a bushel, the cost of maize spirit is about 1s. 3½d. per gallon.

Mr Mcwilliams - The present price of maize is not its normal price.

Mr McCOLL - Twenty-five lbs. of wheat are required for the distillation of a gallon of proof spirit, which, at 3s. 4d. a bushel for the wheat, makes the cost of the spirit is. 4d. Oats is rarely used by itself for distillation purposes, being generally mixed with other grain to make the wort come away more freely, 27 lbs. ibeing required for the distillation of a gallon of proof spirit. Twenty-five lbs. of barley are required for the distillation of a gallon of proof spirit, which, at 3s. 6d. a bushel for the barley, makes the price of the spirit 1s. 9d. Of malted barley, 34 lbs. are required for the distillation of a gallon of proof spirit, which therefore costs about 2s. 11d. Good molasses, however, can be obtained for from 30s. to 35s. a ton, so that the cost of a gallon of proof spirit made from that material would be between 3d. and 4d. This is the spirit which the honorable member for Wide Bay wishes to foist upon the drinkers of this country. But is it consistent to treat spirit made from cheap material in the same way as spirit made from dear material ? The proposal of the Government is absolutely just and fair. It is calculated to provide good liquor for the people, and to assist a primary industry, and I shall support it.

Suggest corrections