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Friday, 15 May 1936

Senator E B JOHNSTON - 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. Mackiereplied

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 -

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