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Wednesday, 16 November 1938

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable gentleman may not cite passages from the Hansard report of speeches delivered in the current session.

Mr FORDE - All I shall say, sir, is that the honorable member charged the Government with having taken advantage of every possible point to delay proceeding with its policy. There can be no doubt that because of underground engineering, and of the pressure that has been brought to bear upon the Government from outside sources, the whole proposal has been sidetracked. I am quite sure that the honorable member for Henty will support the contentions that I am now submitting.

Let us examine for a few moments the activities in which other countries are engaged in connexion with this industry. Of course, all progressive countries realize the great need to manufacture their own motor chassis; but in Australia every effort is being made to mislead the public as to the vital necessities of the position. We are well aware that the experts in charge of the Australian operations of the overseas motor manufacturing companies are not free to speak their mind on this subject. Naturally they are obliged to express the views of the huge organizations which give them employment.

Mr Gregory - The honorable member should be ashamed of himself.

Mr FORDE - We must look at the plain facts of the situation. If the highly-paid Australian executive officers of the overseas manufacturing companies expressed their mind freely and impartially on this subject, and their .views were against the interests of their employers, they would undoubtedly be paid six months' salary and -lose their posts.

There has been a notable increased manufacture of motor cars in Japan. In 1935 Japan produced only 3,000 units. The figures increased to 6,200 in 1936, and to approximately 15,000 in 1937. It is estimated that within twelve months Japan will be producing 60,000 units a year. Recently the Japanese Government decided to limit the number of foreign motor vehicles that might be sold in Japan. To-day Russia, Germany and Italy all manufacture practically the whole of their own requirements. In many small countries the manufacture of motor vehicles is alsobeing developed to a surprising degree. The German Government has ordered that all motor vehicles for use in Germany must be manufactured in German factories. The Italian market is virtually closed to foreign motor vehicles by means of the very heavy customs duty applicable to these units. These facts show the drastic steps which overseas countries, arc prepared to take to establish the manufacture of high precision engines within their borders. The amazing use of motor transport during the Great War, and more recently in the Abyssinian war, and, again, at this very moment in the conflicts raging in Spain and China, shows conclusively the value of mechanized transport in wartime. I contend, therefore, that Australia cannot disregard the importance of this great industry.

Undoubtedly, there is room ' in this country for at least two big motor manufacturing organizations. Approximately 80,000 new motor car engines were placed on the Australian market in 1937, and our estimated requirements for the next three years are as f follows: -


The total number of motor vehicles registered and in use in Australia in 1936 was 670,000. In the United Kingdom quite a number of motor manufacturing organizations are operating successfully on an output of from 10,000 to 20,000 units per annum. With our developing market, therefore, it can hardly be, denied that there is room for manufacturing organizations here to supply at least 50 per cent, of our requirements.

I regret that time will not permit me to deal with many other important aspects of this subject. In conclusion, I charge the Government with having side-tracked the scheme to manufacture motor car engines in Australia, and also with having failed to appreciate the value of this industry as an agent to rectify our adverse trade balance. I arn not impressed by the promise made on behalf of the Government a few days ago that a bounty would be provided to encourage the manufacture of radiators in Australia. The suggested rate was 10s. for each radiator. To adopt that policy would be merely to trifle with the subject.' I am not impressed, either, by the assurance that steps would be taken to secure propositions from intending motor car manufacturers. The date suggested by which these should be available was the 31st March next. Presumably, after that date, the Government would begin to consider the proposals. Parliament would then probably be in recess, and that would be an excuse for further delay. We might be told, even then, that the whole proposition must be once more referred to the Tariff Board ! If that course were taken the board would probably meander through the Commonwealth, as it has done already, seeking evidence on the subject, although everybody must realize that very little helpful evidence would be forthcoming. The Minister directing negotiations for Trade Treaties told us in 1936 that the Government did not intend to refer this subject to the Tariff Board, for it would not be able to obtain satisfactory evidence owing to practically all the skilled technicians available being in the employ of overseas manufacturers. The Government has failed to realize that we have the market, the raw materials and the engineering ability to engage in this industry. It has also failed to appreciate the beneficial effect of the industry in respect of employment, for it must not be forgotten that 150,000 of our people are still out of work. The Government has also overlooked the value of the proposed new industry in increasing, to a very large degree, the force of engineering artisans so necessary and essential to defence. Seemingly it has not realized that already one of the most difficult parts of a motor car, that is, the body, is already being manufactured in Australia, that upwards of 80 per cent, of the many types of motor vehicles now on the Austraiian market is made here, and that four-fifths of almost every car on the Australian roads to-day is the product of Australian labour. But what else can we expect from a cabinet which cannot pursue {he same course for 24 hours, and which is drifting along aimlessly to its political doom?

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