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Friday, 15 May 1936

Senator E B JOHNSTON (Western Australa) . - 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.

Senator Brown - Why did Mr. Mackie ask for a quotation for 1,000 bodies? That telegram was intended to camouflage the position.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - 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.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - How many bodies did Automobiles Limited ask Ruskin and Company to build?

Senator E B JOHNSTON - 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.

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