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Wednesday, 7 November 1973
Page: 1634

Senator Laucke asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:

In view of the Minister's reply to Senate Question No. 380 on 18 September 1973, how is he able to reconcile the Government's action in phasing out the duty differential on brandy with a letter dated 1 9 October 1 972 which the Premier of South Australia, the Honourable O. Dunstan, in his capacity of Chairman of the Australian Labor Party's Federal Election Finance Committee, sent to wine and brandy makers in that State which stated, inter alia, that 'The future of the wine industry has become an issue at the forthcoming Federal Elections. The Australian Labor Party believes, and its Federal Executive has stated, that the only solution that will guarantee continued prosperity for the wine industry and the many thousands of growers who supply it is complete abolition of the excise and its non-replacement by a sales tax or any other imposition. I seek your financial support for the ALP Campaign for the Federal Elections. You have already spent many tens of thousands of dollars on the wine tax and on collecting the information required by the Customs and Excise Department The election of a Federal Labor Government will save you these costs in the future'.

Senator Murphy - The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

An excise on wine was first introduced in 1970. That excise was removed by this Government within a week of its taking office in December 1972 in accordance with its pre-election pledge to the wine industry and the Australian people.

The excise on brandy is a different matter. Australian produced brandy has, together with all other Australian produced potable spirits been subject to excise duty since Federation.

I am aware that the Premier of South Australia, the Honourable D. Dunstan and members of the brandy making industry have made a number of representations to various members of the Government on the phasing out of the duty differential on brandy. I can assure honourable senators that any such representations from either State Governments or other interested parties will be examined and receive full consideration when determining future revenue arrangements.

Blue Poles' Painting

Senator Murphy -On 17 October 1973, Senator Marriott, Senator Cotton and Senator Laucke asked questions without notice concerning the purchase of the painting 'Blue Poles' by Jackson Pollock. The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senators' questions:

The sum paid by the Australian Government in acquiring Blue Poles ' was Aust$ 1 ,346, 1 70 ( US$2m ).

Aust$1,278,860 (US$1.9m) was paid to Mr Ben Heller of New York, for all right, title and interest in the painting.

Aust$67,310 (US$100,000) was paid to Max Hutchinson New York Ltd, 127 Greene Street, New York, for brokerage and other services in connection with the purchase of the painting. Max Hutchinson New York Ltd, are New York art dealers who acted for the National Gallery in this transaction.

Max Hutchinson New York Ltd attested that the painting was in excellent condition before its acquisition was considered by the National Gallery's Acquisitions Committee. The condition of the painting was confirmed by Mr Mollison, the Director of the National Gallery, by physical inspection prior to negotiations proceeding.

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