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Monday, 26 November 1973
Page: 3799

Dr FORBES (BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Is the Prime Minister aware that on 19 October last year Mr Dunstan, the Premier of South Australia, wrote a letter to most people involved in the wine industry -in South Australia seeking funds for the Australian Labor Party election campaign to be given on the condition that a future Labor Government would 'abolish the (wine) excise and not replace it with a sales tax or any other imposition'? Is he also aware that last Friday Mr Dunstan in publicly stating that he had been placed in a position 'of acute embarrassment and dishonour' said: 'It was Mr Whitlam who authorised the statement I made to the wine industry'?

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I ask the honourable gentleman to put his question.

Dr FORBES - I now ask the Prime Minister: Did he authorise the statement to the wine industry? Who has been placed in a position of dishonour by the actions of his Government - is it he or Mr Dunstan?

Mr WHITLAM - Earlier answers have been given on this subject to a question on notice in the Senate in the middle of September and during the debate on the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 5) 1973 last Thursday night by the Minister assisting the Treasurer in answer to a speech by the honourable member for Angas. To summarise the points: The Government when in Oppositon pledged to remove the excise on wine introduced in 1970 by the previous Government, the removal of which was consistently opposed by the honourable member for Angas and the honourable member for Barker by their votes. The Government's pledge was carried out within a week of its taking up office last December. The Treasurer's Budget proposal could not be seriously considered to be a new tax or impost. The removal of a special concession which had been distorting the income tax is a very different matter from the levying of a new tax. The proposed change in the basis of valuation of wine and brandy stocks really does nothing more than bring the wine industry into line with all other industries which already value their stocks on a proper basis. The amended Budget proposal simply means that in 5 years' time the wine industry will be paying tax on the same basis as everybody else and that over the next 5 years the tax which is still deferred in respect of profits from past sales will be recouped in annual instalments.

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