14th Parliament · 1st Session
The Deputy President (Senator Sampson) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Leader of the Senate endeavour to have the name of Wallace Anderson, of Melbourne, added to the list of three sculptors who have been invited to submit preliminary drawings for the proposed memorial in Canberra to the late King George V., for the reasons, first, ‘that Anderson is in the front rank of Australian sculptors; secondly, that he is Australian-born; and thirdly, that he is a returned soldier who had three years of good war service ?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order ! The honorable senator may not express an opinion, or give reasons, when asking a question.
-by leave - The honorable senator wrote to me in regard to this gentleman, and his name was placed before the sub-committee of the Cabinet which is dealing with the matter, together with the names of other men who axe eminent in this branch of art. In the course of its consideration of the. matter the committee contemplated inviting English sculptors to submit designs, but found that their organizationand other organizations of artists take a very strong stand against competitions in these matters, and that leading sculptors will not take part in them. The eventual decision was to restrict the choice to an Australian sculptor and to recommend to Cabinet that three of the most prominent men, who would be paid a fee for their work, be invited to submit sketches and models. The committee did not itself decide who were the three most prominent Australian sculptors, but acted on the best advice available. The claims of Mr. Anderson and several other sculptors were considered, and the choice eventually fell upon G. Rayner Hoff, W. L. Bowles and Paul Montford. While agreeing with Senator Brand that Anderson possesses very high qualifications, I would point out that others who have been passed over are in the same category. The committee felt that the list Would have to be either a very large or a restricted one, and, as in the former case, the matter would resolve itself into something in the nature of a competition, the course decided upon was regarded as the more desirable. The sculptors whom I have named having received the invitation and accepted the conditions imposed, I fear that the matter cannot now be re-opened.
– Has the Government irrevocably decided to restrict the submission of designs to these three sculptors! Ifso, is it prepared to allow the Senate to express an opinion upon this important matter, seeing that an essential concomitant of art is that youth shall at least have freedom of expression?
– That the submission of sketches and models shall be confined to the three gentlemen whom I have named is the fi nal decision of the Government. I shall, however, place before the committee the suggestion that honorable senators be permitted to inspect the sketches and models when they are submitted to the Government.
– As the Government has declared that, in the establishment of inter-capital night air services, provision is to be made for four new landing grounds on the Sydney-Melbourne section, will consideration be given to the establishment of a ground at Wagga, and the classification of that centre as an intermediate stopping place?
– I undertake to bring the matter to the immediate notice of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill), who has control of civil aviation.
– The majority of Cabinet Ministers having visited England, can the Government find some excuse or reason for sending abroad the sole representative of Queensland in the Cabinet (Mr. Hunter), in order to obviate the likelihood of its being suggested that that State is labouring under an injustice?
Question not answered.
– Effective protection being the avowed policy of Australia, will the Government give to Parliament an opportunity to discuss the terms of any renewal of the Ottawa agreement, in order to ensure that the fiscal rights of Parliament will not be bartered away or in any sense restricted?
Senator- Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Ottawa agreement was itself placed before Parliament in the form of the schedule to a bill which became an act with the approval of both branches of the legislature. Any amendment of that schedule would, of course, have ‘to come before Parliament and bo assented to in the same manner.
– Is it not a fact that, when the agreement was placed before Parliament, the Government stated emphatically and unequivocally that if any part of it were altered the whole of it would be jettisoned? Will the Government give the assurance that before action is taken for its renewal, an opportunity will be provided for an untrammelled debate, particularly- in regard to article 12, which gives to the Tariff Board greater power than Parliament itself exercises ?
– There was nothing unusual in the procedure adopted in connexion with the
Ottawa agreement. Any agreement in relation to trade or other matters, which is- entered into by two governments, and has to be ratified by Parliament, must be accepted as a whole. It is obvious that, if any part of it were amended, there would have to be fresh negotiations between the two parties to it. Therefore, if any articles of the Ottawa agreement are amended, the whole of the articles will be open for discussion when the amending legislation is introduced.
– Is the Leader of the Government aware that the provision by the Government of a subsidy of 16s. a lon on fertilizers has been nf immense benefit to the farming community? Will the Government continue i he subsidy?
– The Government realizes that this subsidy has been of great benefit to the farming community. It has already been continued for a period. Any further extension of it is a matter for future consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
With reference to the sum of £18,000,000 approved for the relief of fanners’ debts under the Loan (Farmers’ Debt Adjustment) Act 1935, will the Minister kindly state the amounts so far paid to each State government under this act?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Treasurer has supplied the following answer : -
The amounts asked for by and paid to th>> States to date are as follows: -
It is anticipated that the total amount that will be paid to the States by the 30th June, I93G, including the above amounts, will be approximately £600,000.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That Standing Order No. (58 be suspended up to and including 29th May, to enable new business tobe taken after half-past ten p.m.
In committee (Consideration resumed from the 14th May, vide page 1709) :
Division 14. - Vehicles
By omitting the whole of sub-itemE and inserting in its stead the following sub-item: - “ (e) Parts of Bodies enumerated in para graphs (1), (2) and (3) of sub-item (d), viz. : -
Pressed metal panels, other -
For single-seated bodies - per lb. British,9d. ; per complete set - Intermediate, £20; General, £20.
For double-seated bodies - per lb. British, 9d.; per complete set - Intermediate, £30; General, £30.
For bodies with fixed or movable: canopy tops and bodies, n.e.i.- per lb. British,9d.; per complete set - Intermediate. £37 10s.:General. £37 10s.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, sub-item e, paragraph (2)(a)(b) and (c), per lb., British, free.
The small amendment made by the committee last night to permit certain raw panels to enter free of duty under customs by-law does not meet the serious position which has arisen throughout Australia in regard to the sale of British motor cars. During the last twelve months the distributors of British and other motor cars have been unable to obtain bodies for their purpose, and the shortage is not confined to Morris cars. I have received a mass of correspondence, some of which I shall read to honorable senators in the course of the discussion, from distributors of many types of British and American motor cars who state that they have been unable to obtain motor bodies. Firm orders have been given for the purchase of cars, and the
British distributors in Australia have been unable to supply them. Honorable senators will, therefore, realize that considerable injury is being done to the British motor car industry; the number of British cars which have been sold in Australia this year is proportionately less than during the preceding year. This decrease has come about despite the operation of the Ottawa agreement, and the efforts of the Government to extend the sale and use of British products. Last night, the Minister in charge of the bill (Senator A. J. McLachlan) appeared to minimize the seriousness of this matter to the British motor car industry. If the Customs Department is to adopt such an attitude, I fear that the importation of raw panels under licence, to which the committee has agreed, will not be facilitated by it. The British manufacturers desire the abolition of the present rate of duty on panels imported from Great Britain in knockeddown form, at present standing at 9d. per lb. for the type of panel capable of being assembled in Australia. That is the type to which my request refers. The 6d. per lb. rate applies to raw panels only - panels as they leave the press, but with the edges trimmed. I am assured by a highly competent, authority on the British motor car industry that these panels to which the concession of free admission under bylaw has been given - that means subject to the approval of the Minister for Trade and Customs in each instance - are an entirely uneconomical proposition. In any case the manufacturers and distributors of British cars should not be compelled to go. cap in hand, to the Government whenever they want to import a few panels; they want something real and tangible. If my amendment be accepted by the committee it will render valuable service to the cause of Imperial trade. It will not only give to the Australian public a greater proportion of British motor cars at lower prices, but also ultimately distribute body building and assembling works through all of the States; at the present time they are confined to two States. The recent agitation for a reduction and abolition of duties, including primage duties, comes from British manufacturers just as much, as from the Australian distributors. The suggestion which appeared to me to be made last night - that the request emanated from a limited number of Australian distributors - is certainly unwarranted. Raw panels, to which this committee granted a limited measure of relief, subject to the approval of the Customs Department, are costly to fabricate; their admission free of duty would not substantially reduce the price of the British car. But whereas the existing delays in the supply of British motor bodies would not be relieved under that alteration, it would under the’ request I have submitted. The view of the British manufacturers and their Australian distributors is that, owing to the high protective duties at present in existence, they are compelled to market their cars with bodies built or assembled in Australia. They are prepared to do this, if the Government will show them when and how, under all circumstances, they can obtain such bodies at prices which will allow them to compete on an equal basis with their foreign rivals. Full evidence can be given to the committee that importers of British motor chassis, owing to Australian factors entirely outside their control, have either been unable to obtain suitable bodies at economical prices, or, where they have been able to obtain the bodies, they have been charged high prices and deliveries have been delayed. Also, in. many instances, they have been obliged to accept a compromise in the design of the car, and the British chassis is almost invariably saddled with an overweighted body. That would be entirely avoided if the committee were to accept my amendment. British manufacturers and their distributors have been told by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) that, if they require bodies, they can obtain them from General Motors-Holden’s Limited. I concede the value of the work which is being done by this firm to build up Australian industry; it has been a substantial factor in creating employment in the Commonwealth. But it is perfectly certain, too, that, under this amendment, others, if given the opportunity, can and will do the same, and employment will be more widely distributed among the States. Is it fair for the Minister to ask any motor manufacturer to place himself and his forward designs in the hands of his strongest competitors, who are the agents for American motor cars in the Australian market? Further, is it humanly likely that the strongest American competitor will supply bodies to his English rivals at a price which would enable him to be undersold? That is surely too much to expect. The position in Australia in regard to the supply of bodies for British cars should be closely studied by honorable senators. At the present time, three major firms are engaged in this business - General Motors-Holden’s Limited, of Adelaide; T. J. Richards and Sons, of Adelaide; and the Ford Company, at Geelong. I shall refer to other motor body-building firms in Melbourne at a later stage. These principal manufacturers of motor bodies are primarily interested in the following makes : - ‘General MotorsHolden’s Limited, General Motors’ products; T. J. Richards and Sons, Dodge and Chrysler products; while, naturally, the Ford Company is concerned with the supply of its own products. With the increase of business anticipated, it is unlikely that General Motors-Holden’s Limited, or T. J. Richards and Sons, will be really interested in contracting for work outside their own special lines, although, for particular reasons, they will undoubtedly state that they are prepared to accept contracts for bodies for British chassis. I shall produce ample evidence that all of these firms have refused to quote for the supply of bodies, not only for British cars, but also for other makes of American cars. Under those circumstances, there is a close monopoly, and the Australian distributors of British cars are excluded from the Australian market, because they cannot obtain bodies or fabricated parts of bodies except by paying excessive rates of duty. There is no way in which this committee can relieve the position, and encourage the sale of British cars, and the transfer of some of our trade from the United States of America, with which Australia has an adverse balance, to Great Britain than by the acceptance of my amendment; it will give real legal relief to the industry, without the necessity for the British manufacturers to go cap in hand to the Customs Department, which on other occasions has refused their requests for the admission of bodies free under by-law, because some Australian manufacturer has stated that he can supply the goods. Contracts have been let in Australia for the manufacture of motor bodies, and the makers have not fulfilled their orders. In some instances deliveries have been four and five months overdue. But if they express their willingness to accept the orders it would be quite sufficient for the Customs Department to decline to admit British panels under by-law free of duty. Ample evidence can be supplied that, when General Motors-Hold en’5 limited and T. J. Richards and Sons have contracted to supply bodies for British chassis, they have charged high prices, supplied bodies of unsuitable design, or delayed deliveries. When the Britishdistributors have been unable to fulfil their orders, which were often obtained at great expense, a large number of cancellations has naturally resulted. When a person gives an order for a motor car, he generally wants it the next day, not four or six months later.
– The honorable senator has stated that the bodies were too heavy. Whose fault was that?
– I am informed that certain firms have said that they cannot build bodies of the exact design required, and that the purchaser would have to take a heavier body.
– The bodies of British cars are usually lighter.
– The distributors of British cars . complain that some of the Australian bodies are not so light as they desire. It is well known that some firms will not deliver bodies in small quantities, possibly because they are endeavouring to avoid the cost of making too many dies. There are still two independent body-builders, whose works are situated in Melbourne. One employs approximately 1,000 hands, and although for many months it has been working to capacity, its late deliveries are causing the utmost disappointment and consequent loss of business to its customers. The firm undertook the work of assembling British motor panels, and during the currency of the contract threatened to cease production unless paid more than the price agreed upon originally. This was due to the alleged difficulties in assembling, which, after full investigation, were found to be due to the overworked state of the organization and the consequent inefficiency which followed. It has been suggested that this firm would not have dared to increase its contract price had its capital been invested in the material which had been imported on account of the respective distributors in Australia.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– There is one aspect of this subject which has a very important bearing on the request moved by Senator Johnston. The Ruskin Motor Bodies Proprietary Limited accepted a contract in August, 1935, for the manufacture and delivery of bodies for Hillman Minx chassis at the rate of 40 a week. In this instance, the pressed panels were imported from the United Kingdom, together with certain other parts, with a view to avoiding delay in body production. The price agreed upon exceeded the price paid for the Minx bodies supplied by the Ruskin Company in the 1934-35 season, which, if correct, surely indicates that there is no justification for the duty of 9d. per lb. demanded on the panels. I know that the departmental officers have been in close touch with the manufacturers. Ruskin imported panels and completed the bodies in order to maintain deliveries, and the price was higher than for a complete job. I am willing to hand the documents in my possession to the PostmasterGeneral (Senator A.’ J. McLachlan), and perhaps before t..tie debate concludes, the departmental officers will be able to check the statement I have made. Sub-item jb (2) reads - “ Pressed metal panels, not fabricated beyond trimming of edges;” and paragraph (2) of the same sub-item - “ Pressed metal panels, other “. The former has already been dealt with, but I should lite the Minister to explain the difference between “ Pressed metal panels, not fabricated beyond trimming of edges “ and “ Pressed metal panels, other “.
– When the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) is replying to the points raised by Senator McLeay, will he also explain why some of the duties are at per lb. and the others at a fixed amount? The rate per lb. does not convey very much to a layman. If the Minister could give the approximate weight of the panels, some comparison could be made.
– I understand that an u imbricated panel is simply pressed to shape, t»ut a fabricated panel would be used, say, for a door and would have the necessary bolt or screw holes for hinges or handles and similar attachments. The trimming of edges is apparently regarded by the trade as a part of the fabrication which may be. done overseas or in Australia. I shall endeavour to have inquiries made concerning the Hillman Minx cars mentioned by Senator McLeay. I understand that the dies, which would cost a considerable sum of money, were used in South Australia for some time. In answer to the point raised by Senator J. B. Hayes, I may say that on a British baby single-seater car, the duty on panels under the present rate of 9d. per lb., would be £2 14a., as against £15 under the 1933 tariff. On a British baby double-seater tourer, the duty on panels under the present rate of 9d. per lb., would be £3 0s. 9d., as against £25 under the 1933 tariff. On a British saloon car the duty on panels would be £13 2s. 6d., as against £32 10s. under the 1933 tariff, but that duty was subject to exchange adjustment. In this case the panels imported were in complete sets and were fabricated beyond trimming of the edges. They were thus subject to a duty of 9d. If imported unfabricated the duty would be 6d. per lb., and on a British singleseater baby car, the ‘amount payable would be £1 16s. On a British doubleseater baby car it would be £2 0s. 6d., and on a British saloon car of medium weight £8 15s.
If there is any congestion in the motor body works or a hold up of supplies, the Minister has power to act under the request passed last night. The Government believes that the present rush of business is only temporary and is due almost solely to the heavy importations during the last few months. The Government cannot accept the request moved by Senator E. B. Johnston. These duties were imposed on the recommendation of the Tariff Board.
Broadly speaking, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada are the countries fr.om which this country obtains its requirements of motor chassis. The panels required to build bodies for these chassis would, if imported, naturally be drawn from the country whence the chassis originated. Under the provisions of the existing trade agreement between Canada and Australia, the general tariff rates apply to motor body panels of Canadian origin, but we are at the moment negotiating for a new agreement with that dominion. I explained the position in connexion with the negotiations on the discussion which took place with regard to agricultural implements. In respect to the British preferential rate, the request before the committee is to waive the duty upon fabricated British panels for motor car bodies. The rate of 6d. per lb. should not prove burdensome to the importers of British chassis.
– Why 13 the British preferential duty set out on a per lb. basis, while in the intermediate and general tariffs the duties are fixed ?
– That arrangement is intended as a safeguard to prevent evasion of the intentions of the intermediate and foreign duties. Importers use all kinds of devices to bring in goods at the cheapest rates, and one does not blame them. Honorable senators will see the necessity for it when they realize that all over the world there is a tremendous urge in the manufacture of mechanical devices composed of steel to lighten the load in order that the power costs may be reduced with consequential benefit to users. Motor chassis and bodies to-day arc considerably lighter than they were formerly. This tendency is also to be observed in the railway systems of Great Britain and America where steps are being taken to lighten the rolling-stock.
The movement has been in progress in England for some time. The Tariff Board, with abundant caution, as lawyers would say, recommended the imposition of specific duties. There has been no deviation from the recommendation of the board with respect to the British preferential duty on motor body panels, which represents a tremendous reduction from that which operated hitherto, and it should not bear unduly on the importers.
I should like to emphasize again the importance of the motor body industry to Australia, and I remind honorable senators of what I told them last night with regard to views expressed by a leading British manufacturer of motor vehicles. When I suggested that the British companies should establish in Australia motor body works to supply their own requirements, he said that sufficient works were here to supply all requirements for many years ahead. Whether he was a little pessimistic regarding the future development of this country is not for me to say, but the course I recommended is the logical remedy if, as Senator E. B. Johnston has indicated, the manufacturers of British cars experience considerable difficulty in having bodies built in this country.
– Hear hear!
– But there are enough body-builders in this country already to do the necessary work and the British manufacturers do not want to add another economic unit.
– We have enough combines here already.
– I do not know whether you could call a firm like Martin and King, an important and highly efficient Melbourne firm engaged in this industry, a member of a combine.
– The honorable senator meant combines of motor car manufacturers.
– The manufacturers could collaborate to have motor bodies made in this country; then there would be no risk of any combine interfering with their business. There are many independent motor bodybuilders in this country, and I daresay : Some of them would be only too glad to undertake work on behalf of the British car manufacturers.
– If they could get the panels ?
– They could produce complete bodies.
– The firm to which the Minister referred could never afford to buy the dies.
– I have already given the Senate figures concerning the Australian motor body-building industry. It employs more than 6,200 men, and a tremendous amount of capital has been invested in it. The quality of the local product is not in dispute. It is recognized as being all that could be desired. Any complaints directed against this industry are certainly not made on the score of quality. The weak feature of the industry is that in cases where there is no great demand in Australia for any type of car, and the number of bodies required is in consequence not large, it is not an economical proposition to build the bodies locally by reason of the comparatively large cost of developing the dies necessary to manufacture the bodies. To produce motor car bodies economically a reasonably large quantity must be produced. Thus, in the past, distributors of British cars with a relatively small sale in Australia, have, at times, found it difficult to obtain Australian-made bodies, while the duties on complete bodies under the 19 33 tariff rendered the cost of importation unduly high. Under the duties provided in the bill now before the Senate it ispossible for the panels to be imported at comparatively low rates of duty, with a view to having the bodies assembled and completed locally - an economical proposition, by reason of the absence of the necessity to prepare expensive dies in Australia.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– I cannot understand the suggestion by the Minister that the manufacturers of British cars, for which the Australian market is only small, should combine for the purpose of making arrangements for the building of bodies in Australia. It would be audacious for Australia to sug-. gest to the manufacturers of the Morris, “Wolseley, Austin, and other types of British motor cars that they should combine on the same lines as General Motors have combined in America, if they do not wish to do’ so. The reason why I am inclined to support the request moved by Senator Johnston is, that if we allowed panels, whether fabricated or unfabricated, to come into this country from Great Britain, the motor-body industry would be .spread throughout Australia and not centralized in one part, as it now is. In Brisbane, there is not one bodybuilding firm strong enough or big enough to acquire the most expensive dies which are necessary before panels can he “made;
– The honorable senator is advocating the importation of “ knock-down “ bodies ?
– Yes, if “knockdown” bodies were imported, they could be assembled and welded in Australia. Motor-body builders in Queensland are absolutely dependent on one or two big firms in other parts of the Commonwealth to obtain panels for the assembling of motor bodies. If British panels were allowed to come into this country duty free, the cost of British cars would be reduced, as the very considerable overhead costs involved in the installation of dies would ‘be eliminated and, in very many of the smaller towns, even in the country districts, assembling plants would be established. Hope’s Body “Works Proprietary Limited, in Brisbane, is a case in point. If it were able to obtain panels duty free, this firm would be able to employ many more men than it does at present. No objection can fairly be advanced that the importation of panels would injure the Australian steel trade, because Australian steel is not used in the manufacture qf panels for American or English cars. The whole of the steel is imported in sheets, either from Great Britain or from America.
– Can the steel he manufactured here ?
– I believe the statement has been made that it will he manufactured here, but not for some years to come.
– It will be manufactured here next year.
– ‘.Well, it has been a long time coming. For the whole of the time the panels have been made in this country the raw material has been brought in from overseas. In order to give the British manufacturers better opportunities, and to expand the Australian motor-building industry, which at present is virtually monopolized by two or three big firms, the importation of British panels, on a duty-free basis, should be permitted. The Australian industry could do the whole of the upholstering, carpentry, cabinet-making, and other work associated with the assembly of motor vehicles, and, I venture to say, the body-building industry would be spread all over Australia.
.– Senator Foll has stated a remarkably good case. I am sure that even Senator Leckie can support it, as it would mean that the raw material for the manufacture of motor bodies would come into this country duty free. He is always seeking to have raw materials provided to the manufacturers at the cheapest rates possible; his desires would be achieved if motor-body panels were admitted from the United Kingdom duty free. No independent Australian manufacturer can afford the dies for the pressing of panels, .because the cost is too great. Recently, I read that one manufacturer wrote off £100,000 worth of dies because the change of patterns in motor vehicles had made them obsolete. Many British firms are complaining that they cannot get bodies built in this country. The manufacturers of the Morris, Wolseley, Hillman, Standard, Singer, Crossley, Riley, and Armstrong Siddeley cars are complaining.
– When did the Armstrong Siddeley people complain? They supplied me with a car and a body in about a fortnight afterordering.
– The cars that I have mentioned are good cars, and if immediate delivery could be guaranteed’ more of them would be sold. I understand that orders placed now for some makes of British cars cannot be fulfilled” until next September. The request is a reasonable one. The raw material for the making of panels is not obtainable in.
Australia; and by allowing it to come in, as requested by Senator Johnston, body building in Australia will be encouraged.
– - There was a difference of opinion among members of the Tariff Board with regard to the duty on motor panels. In recommending a duty of 6d. per lb. British, and 9d. per lb. general, Messrs. McConaghy, Kelly and Guy said -
The peculiar circumstances and difficulties surrounding this industry justify a higher duty against British panels than would otherwise be considered reasonable.
Mr. A. D. J. Forster, another member of the board, submitted a minority report, in which he said -
The rate of duty recommended on the British panels, I consider, is far higher than is warranted under the Ottawa, agreement.
Evidence tendered by other Australian makers of panels shows that where the numbers of bodies are large enough, panels can be and arc being produced in Australia on a duty-free basis which, in fact, should follow because of -
The high freight on panels compared with that on the steel to produce panels. This margin apparently is not less than 3d. sterling or 3?d. Australian currency per lb. weight of panels;
The provision made for panel steel to enter duty free from the United Kingdom;
The low proportion of labour cost in panel making.
Mr. Forster’s report also stated
On the question of relativity of wages rates, Mr. Ely, . representing the Ford Motor Company of Australia Porprietary Limited, stated in evidence -
It will be noted that from the confidential statement attached (referred to as appendix 6) that wage rates paid by the Canadian Ford Company are higher than those existing in Australia to-day, whilst the English rates supplied by Briggs Bodies Limited, Dagenham (builders of “ Ford “ bodies ) , when expressed in Australian currency equal the rates paid by us at Geelong.
It will be seen that, according to one member of the Tariff Board, Australian builders can produce on a duty-free basis if the orders are sufficiently large. It has been suggested that the free importation of British body panels would adversely affect the established bodybuilding plants, and cause loss of employment.
– On the contrary the effect would be to help the local establishments.
– I agree with the honorable senator. Far from injuring the established industries of this country, the request, if agreed to, would provide additional work for them, and create more employment. Moreover, that employment would be better distributed among the States which now have no extensive body-building works.
– The free importation of panels could not possibly affect the Ford works, because it manufactures bodies for “ Ford “ cars exclusively.
– Many of the small establishments are languishing because of the monopolistic tendencies of the larger works, which are concentrated in one or two States. These small factories can be saved, and even expanded, if panels are allowed in at economical rates. At present British manufacturers of cars who are struggling for recognition in the Australian market are contending, not against the Australian Government or the Australian people, but against the vested interests of heavilycapitalized foreign organizations which are determined to keep the Australian market to themselves. It has been said that the difficulty in relation to motor car bodies would be solved by allowing only three or four makes of cars to be used. That would be monopoly with a vengeance, and not in accordance with British ideas of freedom of choice!
Freight on motor car bodies is a considerable item of cost, due to some extent, to the Navigation Act. The following table sets out the freight and other charges on a 10 horse-power English 4- seater body containing 160 cubic feet -
In addition, distributors have to pay local landing charges, harbour dues, and cartage. These charges, in Sydney, on a body for a 10 horse-power car are - wharfage and stacking ? 1 4s., cartage 6s., or a total of ?1 10s. The cost would not be less in the other capital cities.
– All makes of ears have to bear those charges.
– If the panels were permitted to come in free they would go. to the different State capitals, and be made up there.
– Those bodies would have an advantage over others.
– The local manufacturers would not lose anything. Some of them are undoubtedly giving preference to American cars. The present tariff on complete cars imported from Britain is creating a monopoly in the Australian body-building trade. One distributor of English cars has informed mc that, because of the great difficulty that he has experienced in obtaining in Australia bodies of a quality, finish and design suitable for his chassis, he has been forced to import complete cars, and pay the heavy duty on them. He said that last month he made a genuine effort to obtain quotations from a number of leading Australian builders, but, with one exception, they replied either that they were unable to accept any more orders or that the quantity he desired was too small to interest them. I have copies of the correspondence here, which the Miniate]’ may see if he so desires. Included in the replies was one from a company which, only recently, telegraphed to the Minister for Trade and Customs that, if it did not get more orders, it would have to discharge a number of its employees. The only Australian manufacturer who submitted a tender quoted £180 for a composite body without mudguards, running board, steel cowls or spare-wheel cover. The invoice cost of a similar body of all steel construction at the English factory is £45 9s. Id., complete with mudguards, &c. The landed cost of an English-built body, which is of definitely higher grade than the local product, both in regard to finish and design, is about £190. Even on a duty-free basis, there is already a big protection, because a body sold in England for £45 9s. Id. costs the Australian distributor £190 landed in Sydney. The result is that, rather than pay £180 for a locally built body, the distributor prefers to import complete cars. The existing high duties encourage the importation of complete cars, whereas, if my request were agreed to, the panels would be brought here, and a good deal of work provided in the manufacturing of bodies. The distributor referred to states that very few Australian body builders are capable of building the grade of body required for his high-class cars. A margin of over 400 per gent. between the invoice cost of an English-built body and its landed cost in Australia, due principally to heavy duties, is not justified, and I hope that the committee will not allow it to continue. The acceptance of my request would end the present, unsatisfactory state of affairs. Since only one Australian builder submitted a tender, it would appear that a majority of the local manufacturers do not want this class of business. Therefore, they would not be prejudiced by the free entry of this type of panel.
– I remind honorable senators that tho committee has already passed sub-item e (1), covering unfabricated panels, and has fixed the rate of duty at 6d. per lb. Last night, I accepted a proposal to admit panels free under by-law. Senator Johnston now asks that panels, other than unfabricated panels - and that means fabricated panels - shall be put on a more favorable basis than the unfabricated panels.
– If this request is agreed to, sub-item e (1) could be recommitted.
– Obviously, the two cannot remain. I was prepared to accept by-law admission, but I remind the committee that the Tariff Board stated in its report that it did not want to prohibit the importation of these panels. The small amount of duty will not prevent people who need these panels from getting them. The duty is not heavy; but it is sufficient to prevent a flood of imports and a disturbance of the present position. I ask the committee not to agree to the request..
– The discussion has not been fair tothe Australian motor-body builders. They will not be given an opportunity to reply to the wild charges made this morning. Although I know very little about motor-body building, I know something of manufacturing, and I now tell the committee that some of the statements made here this morning are ridiculous. I understand from the Minister’s figures that the duty on a complete sec of pressed-metal panels for a single-seater body is £2 14s.
– Yes, with a duty of 9d. per lb.; the duty on the unfabricated panels is about £1 16s.
– The duty is £30s. 9d. for a double-seater body, and £13 2s. 6d. for a full-size saloon body. I understand that under the old schedule the duty was £15 and that it has now been reduced to £2 14s.
– That is so.
– That seems to be a fairly substantial reduction. Doubleseater bodies which previously had to pay a. duty of £25, pay only £30s. 9d. under the schedule now before the Senate. If these reductions do . not satisfy the English car manufacturers I do not know what would. After all the duty imposed makes very little difference to the total cost of a car valued at between £300 and £400. Most of the criticism levelled against the Australian industry in this chamber this morning has been directed against one particular firm, Ruskin and Company. I know nothing about that company, although I have heard rumours about it, but I remind honorable senators that . a number of other motor body maun facturers are not working to full capacity. For instance, General Motors-Holden’s Limited are working only 60 per cent, to 65 per cent, of their capacity.
– I have evidence that this company, has refused to quote for bodies.
– I would like that statement to be confirmed by the company. In any case if General MotorsHolden’s Limited have refused to quote, they must have some good reason for their action, because no firm refuses worth-while business. I repeat again, what I said last night, that it is time the British manufacturers woke up to the situation in Australia, instead of merely trying to damage somebody else in their wild rage against the Australian industry. I have always used English cars and the bodies fitted to them have always been satisfactory. I have experienced no delay in securing deliveries of bodies. I see no reason why we should come to a hasty decision in regard to this matter, and I suggest that the Australian body-builders should be given an opportunity to . answer the criticism levelled against them before a vital decision is arrived at which might detrimentally affect their interests. The present duties will not in any way injure the English manufacturers or prejudice the sale of their cars in Australia. I confess that I am completely at a loss to understand why opposition should be offered to the proposed duties.
– I intend to oppose the request moved by Senator Johnston. I am indeed very surprised by the figures quoted by the Minister showing the actual cost in Australia of imported panels. I can appreciate that under the old tariff owners of English cars had reasonable cause for complaint because the duties were particularly high, but the present duties ranging from £2 to £13 in the case of fabricated bodies and from £1 to £8 in the case of unfabricated bodies, are particularly low. I thought the rates would have been much in excess of those quoted by the Minister. Senator Johnston referred to our adverse trade balance with the United States of America and then made the extraordinary suggestion that the unfavorable position could be remedied in part by permitting the free importation of American bodies. General Motors-Holden’s Limited overcame the difficulty of which the owners of English cars complained by establishing a bodybuilding works in Australia, and there is nothing to prevent English car manufacturers from adopting a similar course. Senator Foll seemed to be of the opinion that the duties should not be imposed because a body-building factory was not established in Queensland. That, is absurd.
– I was referring to die makers and the exorbitant cost of manufacturing dies.
– Senator Johnston thinks that if importations of panels were free a body-building factory might be established in Western Australia. Apparently that would alter his outlook.
It makes very little difference to me whether a factory is established in South Australia, Queensland or some other State, so long as it is doing good work and its business is conducted efficiently. It is providing employment for Australian workmen. I do not complain because the sugar industry is practically confined to Queensland. It is first an Australian industry and, secondly, a Queensland industry. Senator Johnston also referred to the freights charged on British bodies. Most of the bodies used on the cars manufactured by General Motors come from the South Australian factory of General Motors-Holden’s Limited, and freight has to be paid from South Australia to the other States. If English car bodies were permitted free entry into Australia they could be landed in Sydney at a freight charge amounting to only a little more than that paid by General Motors for transport from Adelaide to Sydney. I am beginning to feel alarmed at the inconsistent attitude adopted by some honorable senators representing distant States, who seem to take the view that they are justified in “ having a go “ at Australian secondary industries. In cases where the Tariff Board recommends that imports should be free of duty, and the Government decides that a duty should be imposed, they invariably uphold the Tariff Board’s recommendation ; but when the board’s recommendation is adopted by the Government they seek a reduction of the duty recommended. Apparently honorable senators representing the .State of New South “Wales’ should forget that they are first of all Australians, and follow the example set by honorable senators representing distant States by urging the interests of New South Wales against the’ rest of Australia. I should like to see greater consideration extended to certain efficient and useful industries in some of the larger States by some honorable senators who represent smaller States.
.- I do not think that Senator Dein listened very carefully to my remarks. I said that because a motor body industry is established in Queensland I was anxious that it should be able to secure “its raw materials so as to extend its operations’, but that the output of the factory and the demand for cars in Queensland would not warrant the existing body-makers incurring the expense of the manufacture of special dies. In order that the manufacture of Australian bodies might be extended in the States generally, I was in favour of permitting the importation of the raw materials at a low rate of duty. This would not injure the Australian iron and steel industry, because the whole of the steel used in motor body construction is imported.
– I support the request moved by Senator Johnston, first, because I think it will eventually increase and .spread employment; secondly, because it will have a tendency to swing some of the trade from the United States of America to Great Britain; and, thirdly, because, seeing that the raw material used in the manufacture of bodies is imported, we cannot damage anybody by allowing fabricated and unfabricated panels to be admitted free of duty. As a matter of fact, if thesepanels are allowed to come in free, more work will be provided for Australian workmen. How would this proposal affect the Ford works at Geelong, with which I am intimately acquainted? If British panels were admitted free of duty, not one man would be thrown out of employment in the Ford works, because the Ford Motor Company assembles bodies for its own chassis only; the factory is at present working day and night, and providing employment for a large number of men.
– The acceptance of the proposal might result in the erection of other assembly works.
– I agree,with the honorable senator that such a policy might result in the erection of assembly plants in places like Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong. I had an extraordinary experience some time ago in importing a second-hand motor car from England. A friend of mine bought a baby Ford sedan car in England about eight months ago at a cost of £120. After it had been run for 6,000 miles, he decided to bring it out to Australia. On his behalf, in addition to freight and other charges amounting to £20, 1 1 had to pay duty amounting to no less a sum than £130 10s. ! The duty on the body alone amounted to about £80. It will thus be seen that the duties proposed in the schedule now before the Senate are much- more reasonable. I approached the Customs Department in connexion with this matter, and I was informed that the minimum duty on motor bodies at the time of the importation was over £80. Though the duties imposed in the present schedule are, I admit, a great improvement, I cannot see that the request of Senator Johnston will have any ill effect on Australian working people and Australians generally.
– This matter was inquired into very closely by the Tariff Board, which considered the effects of its recommendation from every viewpoint. One interesting paragraph contained in the report is that dealing with the establishment of the motor body-building industry in Australia. The Government invited people to invest money in the establishment of the industry in Australia; and provided the industry is conducted efficiently, and is doing its best to cater for the trade, we should be very careful to do nothing which might jeopardize that investment. The Tariff Board, after considering the problem in all its phases, recommended that the British preferential duty on fabricated panels should be 9d. per lb., and a very strong argument should be necessary to convince us that it is essential to depart from that recommendation. The board’s recommendation that the British rate should be £13 2s. 6d. for a complete set of panels for a saloon body, as against the rate of £37 10s. foreign, shows a substantial margin in favour of the British manufacturer. Large motor-body manufacturers in Australia have spent an enormous amount of capital in setting up their plant to press panels for motor ‘ vehicles, and they were encouraged by the Commonwealth Government to do this, at the inception of the local industry. If fabricated panels are admitted free from Great Britain, the manufacturers will have to scrap their plant for pressing panels, and a considerable number of men will lose employment.
I was impressed by the speech delivered last evening by Senator Hardy on the question of allowing “a limited number of pressed panels to come in, under by-law, free. That is an important aspect of the matter. Undoubtedly, in some instances the local manufacturers have been unable to supply bodies when required, particularly bodies for British cars. This has meant much inconvenience and heavy loss. In order to overcome the difficulty, the Government might well consider permitting fabricated panels to be imported under bylaw, where a manufacturer can convince the Customs Department that there is a shortage of bodies. I have sufficient faith in the department to know that the power would not be abused, but that each case would be decided on its merits.
– We have an assurance of the Minister in regard to this matter.
– His assurance relates only to non-fabricated panels. I was interested in the statement by the Minister as to the difference between the two articles. If fabricated panels were allowed to come in under by-law, the problem would be met to a great extent, because their admission would expedite the process of placing cars on the market. I support this proposal as an emergency measure to relieve the present difficulty, which, I think, will increase within the next twelve months.
– The request accepted last night was that the duty on unfabricated bodies should be 6d. per lb., or free under by-law. If we agreed to the request proposed by Senator Johnston, fabricated panels would be free. This would create an anomalous position, unless the committee’ altered its previous decision.
. - Probably every honorable senator has made up his mind where he stands on this matter, but it seems to me that a number of honorable senators will not be satisfied with a slice of the cake; they desire to eat the whole of it. The Opposition finds itself in the position of having to support the Government because it offers the lesser of two evils. Last night, the Minister gave an assurance that, if there was a real difficulty in regard to the supply of bodies to meet orders ton hand for British cars, he would see that unfabrieated panels were permitted free entry, under by-law. Now we find certain honorable senators anxious to have fabricated panels brought in under by-law, free of duty. They cannot have their cake, and eat it too. I deprecate the unworthy suggestion that the problem of the Australian industry is not so serious as it has been made to appear. It has been suggested that, because an amalgamation has taken place between’ Holden’s and General Motors Limited, preference is shown in the delivery of bodies, and that prompt delivery can be obtained only in respect of certain chassis.
– “Would not that come about because mo3t of the output of General Motors-Holden’s Limited is ah American product?
– I shall refer to that point in a moment. Senator Johnston asked, “ Why should the firms handling British chassis have to go cap in hand to the Customs Department in order to get this concession ? “. If their grievance is not a real one, I can understand that they will not want to be bothered about the matter. They do not go personally to the Minister or to the Customs Office. A clerk in their employ visits the Customs Department and states his case, or the firm puts its request before the Minister in writing. The matter is investigated, and, if the difficulty is a real one, the position will be relieved.
Now I come to the subtle suggestion that, if unfabricated panels are brought in duty free, the employees of the bodybuilding firms will get work in the fabrication of them. In the first place, it is suggested that the .congestion has arisen because an insufficient number of skilled artisans is available, but now we are told that, if unfabricated panels are brought in duty free, a number of employees will obtain work in fabricating them. That argument does not impress ‘ me as being logical. American people do not make mistakes in these matters. When they buy Australian wool, they take care that it is greasy, and not scoured, because they want the work of scouring it, and the by-products, for themselves. The Opposition is interested in this matter only from the Australian viewpoint. The firms dealing in British chassis have only to convince the Minister that they cannot obtain the bodies they require, and relief’ will be given. Sitting suspended from 12-45 to 2.15 p.m.
– In conclusion, I shall refer to the annual report of the directors of General Motors-Holden’s Limited for the year ended the 31st December last. This points out that, during the three depression years, the company suffered heavy loss, but that during the last three years it was able to overtake that loss, and for the last five years and a half showed a net profit of £340,000, which it is intended to expend in extending the business. It is proposed to expend £500,000 in new buildings, plant and equipment during 1936. The company is now establishing a plant at Fishermen’s Bend, Melbourne, on land purchased from the Victorian Government, the first group of buildings, which will have a floor space of 500,000 sq. ft., being scheduled to be completed by the end of July next. These facts show that this company is doing its job, and is worthy of every encouragement; we should not do anything that will hamper its future development.
– In the course of this debate, denials have been made of the statement that General Motors-Holden’s Limited have refused to quote for” bodies for certain firms. I have evidence here which will refute those denials. I have seen some of the original telegrams, copies of which I shall read. The suggestion that this company gives preference to bodies for cars made by , General Motors in no way reflects on it, because these works were erected primarily to build bodies for such cars. It is quite natural then, if for any reason the company is unable to meet all orders, that it should give preference to cars of its own makes. I take it that that was the principal reason why General Motors estabplished plant here. This company is quite entitled to follow its present policy. I shall now deal with correspondence on this matter. Under date the 21st August. 1935, General Motors-Holden’s Limited telegraphed to Mr. Lloyd, Morris Industries’ export representative in Australia, as follows : -
Reference conversation regret unable offer satisfactory proposition ten twelve. Have received letter dealing with eighteen twentyfive. Will investigate this proposition when prints available from Richards. Many thanks inquiry. Horn (Sales Manager).
As honorable senators are aware. Morris carB are one of the popular British makes, but General MotorsHolden’s Limited definitely refused to quote for the bodies for the small 10 and 12 horse-power ears. I shall now deal with the experience of Automobiles (W.A.) Limited, which also has been unable to get bodies built for its cars in any factory in Australia. Under date the 29th April last, this company wrote to me as follows : -
Dear Sir -
As we in Western Australia have been experiencing considerable difficulty in obtaining delivery of motor bodies to meet our requirements, I found it necessary to come east in order to clarify the position and to obtain quotations for the delivery of motor bodies.
To this end I called upon General MotorsHolden’s Limited, of South Australia, who received me very cordially and stated they would be very glad to give me a quotation for 1,000 motor bodies deliverable in fifties. At their request I handed them Nash factor)’ blue-print specifications, and was informed that if I could provide them with a Nash chassis and body they would be able to give me a quote within four days. I called upon Mr. Rasch, of Rasch Motors, Adelaide, who intimated that if a representative of General Motors-Holden’s Limited called, he would hand them over to me. Mr. Boland, of the lastmentioned company, promised to have them picked up. but failed to do so, despite several interviews and phone calls. After waiting about fourteen days I informed them of my intention of going on to Sydney, and they then informed me that the quotations would be waiting there for me.
– I am aware of that ; but I favour the reduction of duties on all cars to the amounts recommended by the Tariff Board. If this request is agreed to, I also propose to ask the Senate to request reductions of the duties on Canadian and American panels to the amounts recommended by the Tariff Board. I am now showing the difficulty which distributors of both British and other makes of cars generally are experiencing in obtaining bodies in Australia. The letter continues -
The quotations never reached me, nor was the chassis and body ever picked up from
Rasch Motors. This aroused a suspicion in my mind that their discussions were not genuine, and their subsequent vacillations and refusal to quote confirmed that opinion. The attached copies of letters and telegrams, which passed between us, are self-explanatory. It will be observed, in their letter addressed to me under date 14th April, 1936, that I was referred to an opposition ( t) company, namely, Buskins Motor Bodies Proprietary Limited, Melbourne.
I might mention here that I have letters from Buskins Motor Bodies Proprietary Limited, Melbourne, to distributors of British cars saying that they cannot quote for bodies at the present time.
As this would involve the payment of heavier freight to Western Australia I was not particularly interested. However, the exigencies of the occasion demanded that I obtain a quote from Ruskins, and I forwarded two telegrams on the 18th and 21st of April (copies attached) asking for such. So far I have been unsuccessful in obtaining a quote.
As a further resource I also telegraphed T. J. Richards and Sons, of South Australia, on the .18th April last requesting a quotation for the delivery of 1,000 Nash bodies. I received a telegram and letter in reply, under date the 20th April, intimating that they were not prepared to quote for 1936 models (copies attached). All this lends justification to the complaint of other distributors in Western Australia and other States, that they are unable to obtain delivery of motor bodies.
As General Motors-Holden’s Limited are importers and distributors of various American makes, namely, Oldsmobile, Chrevolet, Buick, Cadillac, La Salle, Vauxhall, British Bedford, Pontiac, and G.M.C. trucks, &c, the true significance of their action is readily appreciated. The importers and distributors of other makes, American, and mainly British chassis, are seriously handicapped by thu attitude of this combine of motor-body builders, who, with the assistance of a high tariff, have created a monopoly, which has enabled them to obtain a stranglehold on their competitors. I have been given to understand that the two Mr. Holden’s, and their manager, are to be frequently found at Canberra.
I am at present an employer of fifteen hands in Western Australia, and if the present condition of things is permitted to continue, I will be compelled to discharge all my hands and go out of business. There are a very great number of motor car dealers all over Australia affected in the same way, but they have been reluctant to take any action owing to the fear that the motor-body building combine will not supply them with bodies. This thought does not intimidate me, as I will, in any case, be forced out of business unless Parliament takes some steps to protect the smaller dealers in the trade. I am determined to leave no stone unturned to obtain redress or to give full publicity to the matter.
After referring to the landed cost of his cars, Mr. Mackie continues -
There is another way in which the difficulty could be overcome, and that is by a considerable reduction of the customs import duty on motor-body panels. The present approximate cost of building a motor car body from such panels is as follows: - Cost of motor car body panels, ?52; customs duty, ?37 10s.; wharfage charges, ?3; labour, ?48; materials, leathers, &c, ?10; freight, insurance and other charges, ?18 10s.; total, ?109. This cost is prohibitive. If the customs duty on the above panels wore reduced to, say, about ?15, this would permit a small number of motor car body builders to open up business in each State, as it would obviate the heavy expense, of having to supply dies. Evidence regarding the high cost of dies was given to the royal commission by General Motors-Holden’s Limited. In addition, it would considerably relieve the unemployed problem in Australiaiis it is to be observed that the main item of expenditure is labour. The present demand for new cars cannot be met.
The above now means that if the present policy of the Federal Government is continued it will throw a large number of men out of employment all over Australia, while if the suggested reduction of import duty on panels becomes operative it will have the reverse effect by absorbing a large number of the unemployed in each State.
It might be further added that the steel used in manufacture by General MotorsHolden’s Limited is imported from America, where the balance of trade exists heavily against Australia.
This letter is signed ,by Mr. R. Mackie, general manager of Automobiles (W.A.) Limited, which is a large company with extensive buildings in Perth, and is undoubtedly in a sound financial position. I shall now read the telegrams which were enclosed with this letter. They show that Mr. Mackie went to considerable trouble on numerous occasions to urge General Motors-Holden’s Limited to send his company quotations for bodies, and that his request was ultimately refused. First, Mr. Mackie sent the following telegram to General Motors-Holden’s Limited : -
Referring verbal conversation and my letter 28th March concerning Nash bodies please ‘ telegraph R. Mackie Hotel Metropole Sydney urgently whether you can quote also price and delivery dates reply paid.
To this the company replied -
Have checked Buskins understand all dies already made production new series .bodies therefore consider uneconomical duplicate suggest reconsider this angle. Would still be pleased quote if you could bring all Australian distributors into line.
Mr. Mackie replied
Your telegram 9th I still want your quote up to 1,000 Nash bodies accordance my letter 28th March. Telegraph me at Hotel Metropole Sydney urgently price and delivery dates reply paid.
General Motors-Holden’s Limited then sent the following telegram to Mr. Mackie -
In view fact four to five months required develop Nash sedan consider advisable await 1937 models would then be pleased quote on receipt complete body and chassis blue prints. You should be able secure your 1930 body requirements Buskins who now producing this model writing.
To this Mr. Mackie replied -
Referring your telegram 14th account my negotiations necessary have your definite quotation immediately for Nash bodies accordance my letter 28th March. You have my Nash blue prints and Nash chassis and body from Rasch Motors. Leaving Sydney shortly reply urgent care Hotel Metropole Sydney.
Then General Motors sent the following message : -
Have been endeavouring telephone you Metropole kindly telegraph when where you can be located enable us arrange phone call.
To this Mr. Mackie replied -
Referring your telegram sixteenth account my negotiations telephone unsatisfactory. Before I left Adelaide last month you stated written quotation would be awaiting me upon my arrival Sydney. Wire me quotation immediately care Hotel Metropole Sydney enable me finalize negotiations here.
Then, at last, this was dragged out of General Motors -
Mackie, Metropole Hotel -
View impossible absorbing reasonable quantity Nash sedans 1936 detailed price investigation occupying at least ten days not warranted hut approximate price for 1,000 delivery over period twelve months ?115 to ?120. This cannot have any bearing 1937 writing.
General Motors professed to be afraid that Automobiles (Western Australia) Limited would not be able to sell the cars, but as this is a substantial firm, which would have been able to pay for everything it ordered, there was no need for General Motors to concern itself on that account. In regard to small Morris cars, and other makes of British cars, this company has refused to quote for bodies required by its competitors.
– I propose to place before the committee some information regarding this inquiry for a thousand Nash bodies, and I shall leave it to honorable senators to judge for themselves whether it was a legitimate inquiry, or whether it was made with the object of providing propaganda which is sow being used in this Parliament. In March of this year, three of the leading body-builders in Australia were requested to quote for a quantity of 1,000 bodies for 1936 model Nash cars. The replies furnished to the inquiries by General Motors Holden’s Limited indicated that it would be necessary for new dies to be developed before that company could supply. As General Motors-Holden’s Limited was aware that the kind of body referred to had actually been produced by the Ruskin Motor Body Works, which company had already, at great cost, developed the necessary dies, it advised the inquirer that it would not be economical for either the body-builder or the distributor to be involved in the expense of developing new dies, particularly as the 1936 season was then well advanced. General MotorsHolden’s Limited suggested that bodies for the 1936 model might be obtained from Ruskins, and that they would be pleased to quote for 1937 requirements.
The Ruskin Motor Body Works informed Automobiles (Western Australia) Limited that, while they could supply reasonable quantities, an order for 1,000 bodies was a different proposition. Ruskins requested particulars of the requirements of Nash distributors in other States, and when informed that the quote was required for Western Australia alone, advised the inquirer that the company’s present production programme did not permit of delivery being given under six months, and, in view of a possible change in design within that period, the furnishing of a quotation was superfluous.
An analysis of the position indicates that the proposition placed - before the local body-builders was hardly a fair one. It is ‘well known in the industry that the development of the necessary dies for any particular body takes a considerable time, and involves a large expense. It is also recognized that, to ensure the supply of bodies for any particular season, distributors must make their arrangements with the bodybuilders some time before the season commences. In this connexion it is known that distributors for other makes of cars made arrangements with body-builders for 1936 models during September and October, 1935, while Automobiles (Western Australia) Limited only initiated inquiries towards the end of March, 1936. The body-builders approached were, no doubt, of the opinion that the inquiry was not a firm one, and that little possibility existed that an order of this magnitude would eventuate. The builders are alive to the probable Australian demand for any particular make of car, and, no doubt, took into account that the Western Australian demand for 1936 models of the Nash car was not likely, to reach the figure for which a quote was sought. The total registrations of new Nash cars in the Commonwealth for the year 1933 was approximately 500, of which Western Australia’s share was particularly small. Indeed, only nine Nash cars were registered in the metropolitan area in Western Australia during 1936. On this account the inquiry for 1,000 bodies for Western Australia alone could hardly have .been a genuine one. In the circumstances, I think that’ honorable senators will agree that the attitude of the body-builders approached was the only one that could reasonably have been adopted. The inquiry was made far too late in the season, and the quotation sought was for a quantity which could not possibly be required or absorbed. If this distributor were to approach the Ruskin Motor Bodies Limited for the supply of a smaller number of bodies approximating the possible demand in Western Australia, it is possible that his requirements may be supplied, although the 1936 season is too far advanced for any distributor to place orders and expect delivery within a reasonable time. The Department of Trade and Customs wrote to Automobiles (Western Australia) Limited on the 6th of May, asking to be furnished with particulars regarding the number of 1935 Nash cars sold in Western Australia. The letter stated -
I should be also glad of advice as to whether your inquiry from local body-builders for a quotation for 1,000 bodies was a firm one; that is, whether your company has reasonable expectation of being able to dispose of in Western Australia a number of 1930 model Nash cars approximating the quantity for which the quotation for bodies therefor was sought from the local body-builders.
So far no reply has been forthcoming. I advise honorable senators that they do not help their argument by seeking to buttress it with a case of that kind. If there is a genuine grievance regarding supplies, and it seems that there is in some instances, let us rectify it in the proper way, but honorable senators should not lend their support to a case which has been obviously worked up for the purpose of trying to discredit the Australian manufacturers of motor bodies.
It has been complained that the distributors of English cars have not been able to obtain supplies of bodies. The Australian distributors of Austin cars, who were evidently more alert than some of their competitors, placed a contract in September or October of last year with General Motors for supplies of bodies, and those bodies are now being built. I. do not know whether the arrangement is being continued. The Morris distributors, apparently, did not act in time, and they are having difficulty in obtaining supplies. The Government has given a promise that it will admit panels under by-law in order to meet any genuine shortage, but it is absurd to suggest that English bodies should be admitted free, merely because a firm in Western Australia was not able to get a quotation for 1,000 Nash bodies which it had no prospect of selling. I cannot accept the request.
– It is quite evident that some difficulty has been experienced by distributors in obtaining supplies of bodies for English cars. I have information before me from a number of British distributors, and I know that to be the case. This is a very serious matter, for it not only places British manufacturers at a disadvantage compared with American manufacturers, but also causes great inconveni ence and delay to the purchasers. On the other hand, it is apparent that, in the existing body-building works in Australia, there is sufficient plant and machinery to supply all the bodies for which there is a demand if everything were above board. Apparently the distributors of British cars have been caused some delay in endeavouring to negotiate a suitable price with the Australian manufacturers. We should not tinker with the importation of unfinished panels ; thai would not be of any use to British distributors. I suggest that, until the difficulty in regard to supply has been overcome, the Government should give a definite undertaking to admit a certain number of finished British car bodies. If it does so, I shall support it on this item.
.- On investigation, it transpires that the whole trouble over motor bodies, in respect of delay and otherwise, is with the English suppliers. I thought that there was a complete answer to the wild statements that had been made on this subject. and it is so. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) detailed an officer of his department to investigate certain complaints- made by persons interested in the marketing of British motor cars in Australia. The report of the officer is, of course, a departmental document, but the Minister has stated that it completely exonerated the company involved. Although doubt was expressed of the efficiency of one Melbourne firm, apparently no effort was made to obtain prices from other firms, either large or small. In the case of the company that was criticized, I am informed that firm orders were placed for a number of bodies for two models of English cars. The company made a considerable number of bodies for one model, but the delivery was refused, and a demand was made that bodies of another type should be produced.
– Was the car model changed in the meantime?
– I do not think so. The trouble was that the firm ordered bodies of one class, and, when the order was practically completed, declined to take delivery of them, and demanded bodies of another description.
– Is not a shortage of supply bound to keep prices up?
– I do not think so, but, in any case, the existing duty cannot be used as a justification for an increase of prices, for the duty on all the panels required for a double-seater touring car is only £3 Os. 9d., and for a single-seater car, only £2 14s. Three large, or comparatively large, firms are making motor bodies in Adelaide, and two large firms are doing so in Melbourne. In connexion with the complaints that have been made, James Flood Proprietary Limited wrote as follows: -
Wc confirm the information supplied to your - officer that- we are at present interested solely in bodies for English car distributors, and that we are supplying to the orders of Western Australian distributors, and, furthermore, we are right up with delivery dates.
Martin and King Proprietary Limited made the following comments : -
We beg to point out that insofar as highgrade foody production for English chasses is concerned, we have been able to give our usual six to eight weeks’ delivery on all orders placed with us over the last twelve months, and can still offer this service for present orders. This is the only class of business for which we cater. At the moment, we have building extensions in hand which will accommodate a further 40 hands, and have in the last month spent £1,000 in new plant. With these additional facilities we anticipate no difficulty in keeping well abreast of requirements.
The whole trouble is bad organization by the English manufacturers, individually and collectively When two American motor car manufacturing corporations found themselves in trouble, they did not clamour for a reduction of the duties, but organized the motor bodybuilding industry in Australia, with the result that two large Adelaide firms are to-day making motor bodies for them. They have either a big interest or a controlling interest in these organizations, and I have not heard that they are experiencing any difficulties in providing bodies for their chassis. Why do not the English motor car manufacturers do the same thing? The procedure of the American motor car manufacturers, when they decide to market a new model, is to despatch copies of their blue prints to Australia several months before the new model is to be placed on the market. r.«2
This provides opportunity for the manufacture in Australia of the necessary dies - work which may take three or four months. I know what a complicated business the manufacture of dies is, because of the experience in my own firm with relatively small dies, some of which take up to two months to manufacture. The American motor car manufacturers realize that, if their new models are to be placed on the market under satisfactory conditions, they must allow time for the manufacture of the dies and the organization of the whole business in Australia. One big body-making company in Australia, dealing with the internal organization of the industry, has stated -
With regard to the time taken to produce, this is not the fault of the Australian body builder. For a period of years we have been able to induce the American manufacturers to send their blue prints out to Australia at the same time as they are developing their bodies in America, so that we have as long as five to six months in which to develop and complete the first bodies so that they will be available at the time of the arrival of the chassis, but in regard to English manufacturers their methods of manufacture are so far behind time, and the liaison between themselves and their agents is so unsatisfactory, that on occasions the blue .prints from which to build the bodies do not arrive in Australia more than a week or two ahead of the chassis.
I realize that there is something to be said on both sides on this subject, but I cannot understand why the British motor car manufacturers should confine themselves to complaints. They should put their house in order, so that their cars may be marketed under reasonable conditions in Australia. The duty on motor body panels has been reduced by 75 per cent, by this Government, and that surely should be an indication of its goodwill towards the English motor car manufacturing industry! The duty on panels required for a two-seater touring car is only £3 Os. 9d., and for a sedan car £13. Formerly, the duty was upwards of £30. It appears to me that a few disgruntled people have set themselves out to cause trouble. Although I consider that the reduction of duty on motor body panels has been too drastic, I am prepared to support the proposals of the Government; but some honorable senators appear to be anxious to cripple this valuable Australian industry. One of the motor body-building organizations ir>
Adelaide employs 7,000 hands directly, and a lot of others indirectly, and the other gives employment to between 1,000 and 2,000 people. The largest firm in Melbourne employs between 900 and 1,000 hands, and two or three other motor bodybuilding organizations give employment to about half that number of people. Surely this is an industry worthy of preservation. If the wishes of some honorable senators were acceded to, many of these employees would be put out of work. It is of little use for honorable senators to express the pious hope that this would not be the result of a further reduction of duties.
– Why should any of them be put out of work by a reduction of duties?
– Surely it is obvious to the honorable senator that if panels are imported into Australia in large quantities the workmen who to-day manufacture them in this country would be deprived of their employment.
SenatorFoll. - We are trying to give Great Britain some trade which is at present done by America.
– If the British motor car manufacturers would put their house in order, they would have no difficulty in getting the trade.
– We have put the house of the American manufacturers into thoroughly good order to the detriment of Great Britain.
– - Honorable senators would do well to bear in mind that a sufficient number of motor vehicles is marketed in Australia nowadays to justify the establishment of several chassis manufacturing enterprises here. The only reason why this industry has not been established before now is that investors are afraid that if they put their money into the business on a certain basis of tariff protection, they may find after a year or two that the duties will be reduced, and that they will be left high and dry. Nevertheless, it is evident that within the next three or four years, not only complete aeroplanes, but also complete motor cars will be . manufactured in Australia.
– We all hope that that will be so.
– A condition precedent to that state of affairs is the assurance of reasonable tariff protection against cheap labour and poor working conditions, such as prevail in certain other countries. Investors must be confident of a fair deal and reasonable protection before they will provide the capital for the establishment of this industry. It is of little encouragement to them to see industries which have already been established in this country with a reasonable tariff protection, suddenly deprived of it. That sort of thing discourages both internal and external investors. We must shelter our industries against the products of low-wage countries, where hours of labour are long and raw materials are cheap.
I assume that all honorable senators are well aware that the pressed steel necessary for the making of motor bodies is not at present manufactured in Australia. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, of Newcastle, is, however, taking steps to manufacture both pressed steel for motor bodies and tinned plate for other industries. The tinned plate is merely a finer gauge of pressed steel. It is hoped that within the next eighteen months, or even less, this industry will be operating on a successful basis within the Commonwealth, and that this raw material required for motor body-building will be obtainable here. In these circumstances, surely it is not too much to suffer a little inconvenience in the meantime.
– But it is all detrimental to the British motor car manufacturers.
-I do not appreciate argument of that kind from gentlemen who regard themselves as sound protectionists. If Senator Plain desires the inference to be drawn from his remark that I wish to give some advantage to the American motor car manufacturers over the British motor car manufacturers, I point out once again that I am first of all an Australian, and afterwards a Britisher - and a Britisher all the time. I wish to see Australian industries adequately protected, and when that is assured, I am prepared to do everything possible to assist British industries. At the same time, I repeat that the British motor car manufacturers should improve their selling organization, and, in fact, all their trading practices in relation to Australia. If they would adopt progressive methods, their business in Australia would soon be put on a good footing.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– After listening to the arguments in this debate, I have come to the conclusion that there must be two. sides to the question. Since Adelaide is the hub of the motor body-building industry, it is not my intention to give a silent vote on this sub-item. The protection afforded compares favorably with the previous tariff, and we have had the Minister’s assurance that it is the intention of the Government to assist British manufacturers to make up some of the leeway caused through their inability to obtain bodies. Taking all these things into consideration, I feel that I must support the Government.
– The Minister (Senator A. J. McLachlan) said that if Mr. Mackie, of Automobiles Limited, had approached Ruskin Motor Bodies Proprietary Limited, Melbourne, his requirements would have been supplied. Mr. Mackie did ask that firm to submit a quotation for bodies, and on the 24th April received the following telegram: -
Regret present production programme such unable undertake delivery any quantity bodies under six months. Possible change design in interim renders quotation superfluous.
– Why did Mr. Mackie ask for a quotation for 1,000 bodies? That telegram was intended to camouflage the position.
– When the previous distributors for the Nash cars went into liquidation, or gave up the agency, Automobiles Limited took it over. That firm is now building large premises in Perth to handle the business in Western Australia.
– How many bodies did Automobiles Limited ask Ruskin and Company to build?
– The following is a copy of the telegram which Mr. Mackie sent to the firm - “ Please telegraph me immediately, care of Hotel Metropolis, Sydney, quotation and delivery rates for Nash bodies for 1936, Lafayette, and 400 models ready to mount on chasses in 50’s up to 1,000 bodies. Understand you already have Nash factory blue prints.”
As I have shown, Ruskin Motor Bodies Limited refused to submit a quotation for any number of bodies. The following letter, written by Mr. C. C. Crosby, managing director for Talbot, and Standard Motors Proprietary Limited, Melbourne, under date 1st April, 1936, contradicts the statement made this afternoon by Senator Leckie that James Flood Proprietary Limited are up to date in their deliveries -
In November last year, we entered into negotiations with a firm of body-builders in Melbourne for the supply of a quantity of approximately 130 saloon bodies for three (3) types of chassis, and eventually early in December accepted their quotation on the understanding that delivery of the bodies would commence - First model, first week in February; second model, third week in February; third model, first week in March.
On preparing thecontract for them to sign we found that they were not agreeable to do so provided that we insisted on a penalty clause in the event of deliveries not commencing on the specified dates. In order to ensure supplies of bodies we granted them an extension of twenty-one (21) days after the promised delivery dates, as a period of grace before the penalty clause should operate. In spite of all assurances from them that deliveries would be effected, we would advise that so far delivery of one model only has commenced. They are therefore from four (4) to six (6) weeks behind delivery - a fact which has seriously prejudiced our sales. This is not an isolated case as we have consistently experienced the same difficulty in past seasons. We are at the present time negotiating for a further supply of bodies for delivery to us next July or August, and in view of the difficulties we have had with our present builder, we decided to approach the three (3) other main body-builders in Australia, namely, Holden’s Motor Body Builders, Woodville, South Australia; T. J. Richards and Sons Limited, Adelaide, South Australia; and Ruskin Motor Bodies Proprietary Limited, Melbourne, Victoria. Our replies in this instance arc illuminating. Ruskin Motor Bodies Limited, in Melbourne, advise that they were too busy to contemplate any further order. T. J. Richards and Sons, of Adelaide, submitted a quotation which, in our opinion, obviously suggested that they were not interested, although the quantity was 750 bodies of one type, and notmultiplicity of design which has been their excuse for high prices in the past. Holden’s Motor Body Builders have expressed their interest in our lines, and have submitted a quotation which, although in some respects is reasonable as regards price, is very high in comparison with the cost of producing a similar body in the United Kingdom.
We are naturally loth to deal with Holden’s Motor Body Builders in view of their associations with General Motors Limited and their American connexions, and yet we have no option. Surely the Australian Government is not desirous of forcing importers of British motor cars to deal with a foreign corporation, yet wo have no reason but to believe that this is the case when no representations made to them have any effect in altering their policy of protecting an industry which is largely controlled by a foreign concern. The only solution we can see is: (1) Free admission of a limited number of British motor bodies into this country, or (2) a completely free admission of British motor panels which would enable us to obtain adequate supplies of bodies from imported panels by a local builder.
This is definite evidence of the inability of another firm to obtain from the three principal motor-body builders in Australia a quotation for 750 bodies of one type. A way out of the present trouble is the admission, duty free, of motor-body panels from ‘Great Britain, and, in addition, a corresponding reduction of duties on panels from Canada and America. I hope that the committee will agree to my request.
– I am very much surprised that some honorable senators are not inclined to give reasonable encouragement to the manufacturers of British cars. No honorable senator wishes to do harm to any Australian industry, but it is well known that General Motors-Holden’s Limited are fully occupied manufacturing bodies for General Motors’ cars, and that the Ford Company has established its own works in Australia to meet the local demand. Neither of these firms is inclined to delay orders for its own cars in order to execute outside orders. Senator Leckie told us this afternoon that James Flood Proprietary Limited was up to date with all its deliveries, but Senator Johnston has just read a letter from an importer of British chassis complaining that it is many months behind time with its deliveries. I know that this is the true position, because, in an interview! which I had with the representative of a reputable importer of British cars, I learned that his firm had placed orders for motor bodies, delivery to commence at about Christmas time, m order to cater for the summer trade, but the first delivery was not made until several months later. This gentleman did not. condemn the company concerned. He admitted that it was doing its best, but, owing to the largely increased trade, it was unable to keep up with the demand. He assured me that the company mentioned by Senator Leckie was many months behind with its orders. I am convinced that the carrying of the request will not make the slightest difference to Australian motorbody builders. It is only natural that General Motors-Holden’s Limited should pay attention first to orders for General Motors’ chassis, including the English Vauxhall, which is, to all intents and purposes, a General Motors product; and, as the firm is too busy on its own work, it is unable to execute orders for other distributors. I shall regard the vote on this sub-item as a test of the sincerity of the Senate’s desire to give some measure of assistance to distributors of British motor cars in Australia.
Question - That the request (Senator E. B. Johnston’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Temporary Chairman - Senator Badman.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative. Request negatived.
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (b), paragraph (2), by adding a new sub-paragraph, viz.: - “(d) As prescribed by departmental bylaws, British free.
The acceptance of this request would place fabricated panels in the same position as panels which are unfabricated, in that, where it could be shown to the satisfaction of the Minister that it was impossible to obtain supplies from the local manufacturers, they could be admitted free of duty under by-law.
Senator A. J. McLACHLAN (South Australia - Postmaster-General [3.19] . - I understand that somewhat different considerations intrude themselves in this suggested admission under by-law, in comparison with those that were raised last night. In this case, more work has been done on the panels. If I allow the request to pass on the voices I reserve the right to recommit the sub-item if, after consultation with my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) I find that he objects to it. As far as I know at the moment, there is no Objection to it department ally ; but I believe that there are cross currents with . which the officers in Canberra are not familiar.
– There would be less work for Australian employees.
– The panels would be admitted under by-law only if supplies of the locallymanufactured article were not available.
– I consider that the Minister is regarding the matter all too com.plaisantly. Although the Opposition is powerless to prevent this action from, being taken, it offers strong objection to it. My colleagues and I have just saved the Government once again because of our desire to preserve Australian work for Australian workmen. It is now proposed to open a door which the committee has just decided shall remain closed. I realize that appeal would be made to the Minister, only in cases of emergency. I also un derstand what is meant by “ cross currents.” Having had many years’ experience of Customs House work, I am acquainted with the manner in which cross currents operate, and appreciate the tremendous tasks which officials have to discharge in their administration of the law according to the spirit which underlies it.
– I am afraid that the honorable senator has misunderstood me. It was my belief that fabricating is done in Australia which led to my reserving the right to recommit the sub-item. I now understand, however, that there is very little substance in my objection.
– I may not be quite aware of what is in the Minister’s mind, but I am of what is in my mind. I accept his explanation. If this request is agreed to, provision will be made for the importation of fabricated motor panels under by-law, in allegedly special circumstances. The absolutely vital principle of Australian work for Australian workmen is at stake, and I am not prepared to allow it to bc whittled away. We of the Opposition, made a concession when we agreed last night to the admission under by-law of unfabricated panels, because we were inclined’ to believe that in their case genuine difficulty was experienced in obtaining supplies locally. Surely there must be a limit to what this committee should do in this matter. If we open the door, foreign countries will be quick to make use of their opportunity. The cross currents of which I am thinking may not be the cross currents which are in the Minister’s mind ; but I am unable to overlook the fact that importers employ highly-skilled agents to endeavour to find loopholes in the Customs administration. No matter how meticulous, honorable, and capable the departmental officials may be, it is almost impossible for them to withstand that continuous pressure. I am anxious to avoid that pressure. While we can always afford to give and take, there should be a limit to the extent to which we are prepared to go in connexion with this industry. Early this afternoon, I cited figures from the annual report of General
Motors-Holden’s Limited; it showed that, after five years’ operations the enterprise has overtaken continuous losses and is now showing a consolidated net profit. During the coming financial year it is proposed to spend every penny of that profit on additions to the capital undertaking. Arrangements will be made to extend the existing works in order that the firm will be in a position to cope with any demand placed upon it. In view of those circumstances I ask the Minister, if he does not desire to negative Senator Foil’s suggestion,- to allow this matter to be postponed. I ask him not to let the question be carried on the voices, because later on that will be urged as a reason why we should extend the offence. Some honorable senators will contend that the fact of carrying the request on the voices to-day will be sufficient justification for confirming the principle. The Opposition is not prepared to take the first step in that direction.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to requests.
Division 16. - Miscellaneous
– This item provides for the admission, free of duty, of articles imported or purchased in bond for official use by trade commissioners representing a British country, or by consuls, provided that they are the citizens . of the countries which they represent and are not engaged in any trade or profession. Will the Minister explain the reason for this concession?
[3.29]. - The admission free of duty of these articles is in accordance with a well-established international reciprocal custom. Other countries accord to the trade representatives of the Commonwealth abroad, treatment similar to that which the Government proposes in this instance.
– Regardless of how many of those representatives may be in Australia ?
– At the present time there is only one ConsulGeneral concerned.
Item agreed to.
Item 376 -
By omitting the whole of sub-item (b) (twice occurring) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item: - “ (b) Bags, hand and purse, n.e.i.; bags, sporting, travelling; baskets, picnic; cases and companions, toilet, dressing, writing, travelling; trunks, travelling; satchels; boxes and cases, jewel, trinket, musical instrument; purses n.e.i., ad valorem, British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 45 per cent.; general, 55 per cent.
– I move -
That ‘the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (b) to read as follows: - “(b) Bags, hand and purse, n.e.i; bags, sporting, travelling; baskets and cases, picnic; cases and companions, toilet, dressing, writing, travelling; trunks, travelling; satchels; boxes and cases, jewel, trinket, musical instrument; purses, n.e.i., ad valorem: British, 25 per cent.; intermediate, 45 per cent.; general, 55 per cent.
The only alteration to the sub-itemin the request which I have just moved is the substitution of the words “ baskets and cases, picnic;” for the words “baskets, picnic;”, and its purpose is to ensure that picnic cases shall be subject to the same rates of duty as apply to picnic baskets. Picnic baskets are already provided for in sub-item b of item 376 and there is no apparent reason why any discrimination in the rates of duty should exist between picnic baskets and picnic cases; both articles serve the same purpose. The Tariff Board has intimated that the amendment embodied in the request would not be contrary to the intention of the board in its findings in respect of the goods covered by sub-item b of item 376.
Request agreed to.
Item agreed to, subject to a request.
Item 380 (Carpet sweepers).
, - I note that carpet sweepers manufactured in Great Britain are subject to a duty of 10 per cent., and importations from foreign parts are subject to a duty of 35 per cent., under both the intermediate and general tariffs. The Minister in charge of the bill (Senator A. J. Mclachlan) should give honorable senators some information upon this matter. A carpet sweeper is not an article which cannot be manufactured in Australia ; it is not complicated mechanically, so that there should he no insurmountable engineering difficulties in the way , of making a thoroughly effective article.
Senator A. J. MCLACHLAN (South Australia - Postmaster-General) [3.84/). - The effect of the proposals is to increase the rates of duty under the British preferential tariff aud general tariff by 10 per cent. The rate of duty in the intermediate tariff is at the same level as applies to the general tariff. The exchange corrective will provide, under par exchange conditions, for rates of duty of 30 per cent. British preferential tariff, and 55 per cent, intermediate and general tariffs. The action now being taken is consequential upon the Tariff Board’s report of the 17th April, 1935. Except for the fact that the general tariff rate has been adjusted to comply with the Government’s obligations under the Ottawa agreement, the proposed rates of duty in the British preferential tariff and general tariff columns are in accord with the recommendations of the Tariff Board. Australian requirements of carpet sweepers are estimated to approximate 22,000 per annum. There is only one local manufacturer, who commenced operations in 1932. Production in 1938-34 amounted to 1,200 sweepers, spread ‘ over four models. It is claimed that the capacity of the factory is 31,000 carpet sweepers per annum, and it is capable of meeting all of the requirements of the Commonwealth. The Australian manufacturer faces competition from two or three well-known makes of carpet sweepers from the United Kingdom and Canada. Except in respect of the highest-priced model, the local carpet sweepers sell at prices closely competitive with sweepers imported duty free from those countries. Comparative prices, landed cost into large retail stores, are as follows: -
Practically all of the raw material used by the local manufacturer is of Australian origin.
.- The duties provided under this item are to protect an Australian industry recently established. Importations from Great Britain, which, previously, were admitted free, are now subject to a duty of 10 per cent. All materials used are obtained locally.
– And the manufacturers will have the full benefit of the exchange.
– -The manufacturers pay the British price of materials plus 25 per cent. In this instance the Australian manufacturer is entitled to 10 per cent, advantage over the British manufacturer, who has an advantage of 25 per cent, over foreign competitors: That seems rather anomalous. This is an instance in which the Tariff Board could have been more generous, and given the Australian manufacturer the same degree of protection as is afforded to the British manufacturer.
– How many persons are employed in this industry for which Senator Leckie is making an appeal ?
– The Tariff Board conducted an investigation into the manufacture of carpetsweepers, which, I understand, are made by a firm making other goods. In 1933-34 approximately 1,200 carpet-sweepers were manufactured in Australia, but the board stated that the industry is to he extended. The plant at present in operation is capable of producing 600 carpet-sweepers weekly, or31,000 per annum, which would give direct employment to 40 men and indirect employment to an additional 24 persons.
– It is only right that honorable senators should be informed of the manner in which this industry has developed since first established four years ago. Kennett Brothers, at present operating in Victoria, were not the originators of the carpet-sweeper industry in Australia, as several other firms endeavoured to establish it, but were unsuccessful. I understand that approximately 22,000 carpet-sweepers are purchased in Australia every year, but only onetwelfth of that number is supplied by this firm. The manufacturers contend that their product is insufficiently protected.
– That was when British importations were admitted free, but they are now to be subject to a duty of 10 per cent, plus exchange.
– The firm asked for protection to enable it to extend its factory, and so render it capable of producing 31,000 carpet-sweepers per annum.
– A member of the House of Representatives, who has an intimato knowledge of the firm, the work it is undertaking, and its product, strongly urged that additional protection should be afforded. The Minister said that probably 40 employees are now engaged; I am concerned not with the number now employed, but the number for which employment can be provided when the industry develops. If carpet-sweepers are manufactured in Australia, the money and the sweepers remain in Australia, but if imported machines are purchased we have only the machines and some one else has the money. The industry should receive sufficient protection to enable it to supply the whole of Australia’s requirements.
Item agreed to.
Items 381, 389, 390, 392, 393, 394 and 418 agreed to.
Item 419 (Instruments and appliances).
– Are the items covered in 419D on which a duty of 40 per cent. British is proposed; surgical instruments?
– The proposals now before the committee are merely of a formal nature, and are consequent upon separate provision being made in proposed sub-items e and G to this item in respect of X-ray apparatus and accessories, X-ray examining tables and dental chairs, which in the 1933 tariffs were provided for in the subitem now under consideration. On the articles now covered by the proposed subitem, the rates of duty remain at the same level as in the 1933 tariffs. The British preferential tariff Tate is subject to the usual deduction of one-fourth of the value for duty under the provisions of the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Act 1933-1934.
– What I want to know is whether these items are surgical items? If so, I do not think that we should impose a duty of 40 per cent, on articles which are used in hospitals.
– I can supply no further information.
Item agreed to.
Item 439 (Felspar).
– Were the duties on felspar recommended by the Tariff Board ?
– The rates of duty in the British preferential column are in accordance with the recommendation of the Tariff Board made on the 24th January, 1934.
Item agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Sir George
Pearce) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday next, at 1 1 a.m.
Senate adjourned at 3.52 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 May 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1936/19360515_senate_14_150/>.