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Wednesday, 16 November 1938

Mr LAZZARINI (Werriwa) .- The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) for one or two parts of his speech drew on his imagination. He said for instance that a car which costs £104 in the United States of America, costs £343 in Australia to-day, and possibly would cost £500 if it were manufactured locally. The experience of not only Australia, but also other countries, proves that the first result of competitive manufacture is reduced prices. Experience shows that if Australia started the manufacture of motor vehicles, the price which is at present paid for motor cars in Australia would be reduced by at least £100.

Mr Prowse - If that be the case, why is it that no reduction of prices took place when the manufacture of motor car bodies was initiated here?

Mr LAZZARINI - The honorable member knows that the companies which are making car bodies in Australia today are allied to and part of the American motor car manufacturing companies and that, accordingly, they can charge what they like. People of the same political opinions as the honorable member for Forrest raised the same cry as he raised to-day when this country embarked on the manufacture of harvesters and other farm machinery, but as the result of the manufacture of harvesters in this country, the price fell to £90 in comparison with the £180 charged for harvesters in Argentina where none were manufactured.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The matter referred to has nothing to do with the question before the Chair.

Mr LAZZARINI - I use that argument in support of my contention that immediately we start to manufacture motor cars in Australia, the cost of cars will fall. Immediately the American companies with their allied motor body building companies in Australia are faced with competition in Australia from locally-manufactured vehicles, they will reduce the price of their own cars. The honorable member for Forrest- apparently is not worried when foreign monopolies exploit Australia; he does not want them to be subjected to Australian competition. I do not like monopolies at all, but we have a chance to deal with an Australian monopoly and to legislate against its exploitation of the people, whereas there is no hope of legislating against monopolies that are domiciled in other parts of the world.

I have no figures at hand, but I believe that much more than 60 per cent, of the motor vehicles that are operating in Australia to-day are of American origin. I remind the honorable member for Forrest that the United States of America does not buy his wheat. As a matter of fact, that country buys virtually nothing from Australia, and, whenever there is an adverse trade balance against Australia, it is due mainly to the imports of motor cars and petrol and oil from the United States of America. That trade causes a constant 'drain upon our resources which should be stopped.

The honorable member for Forrest mentioned other ways in which the tax on motor chassis which is now being collected could be expended. Those tas. collections were also mentioned by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) who, I think, was conservative when he estimated the amount of the collections at about £800,000. I have no accurate figures, but I should be surprised if the money collected in tax from that source does not already exceed £1,000,000. The car-users in Australia have provided and are providing that money for the specific purpose to establish an industry in Australia to manufacture motor vehicles and to protect the people from the exploitation of outside monopolies. Ve were assured that that was so when the tax was imposed. If the Government uses the money for any other purpose without the sanction of Parliament - I do not suggest that it is doing so, although it would be interesting to know what is becoming of the money - the Government is deserving of censure.

I would point out to honorable members that the exchange rate of 25 per cent, is one reason for the great difference between the cost of a car in Australia and the cost of a similar car in the United States of America. It is another " rake-off " for the financiers. The facts can be twisted and bent, but nothing can be shown to prove other than that we have to pay the money-changers £25 in every £100 that we expend on the purchase of motor vehicles in Australia. There is no need for me to repeat the figures which I cited the other day because they are in Hansard. What I said then and what I am saying now is that the only way in which to do away with the evil which results in a car, which sells for £104 in America, costing £343 in Australia is by manufacturing cars in Australia.

Mr Mahoney - Who gets the difference ?

Mr LAZZARINI - The moneychangers get £25 in every £100. The manufacturers get the other "rake-off".-

Another aspect of the manufacture of motor vehicles in this country which should be investigated by the Government is that of the development of dieselpowered vehicles. So intensive have been the tests of these vehicles in other parts of the world that there can be no denying that they provide everything which is at present provided by the internalcombustion engine vehicles powered with petrol. A diesel-engined car was driven round Brooklands at 107 miles an hour the other day. Nobody wants to travel that fast, but the fact goes to show that there can be no objection to dieselengined vehicles on the score of lack of speed. Diesel engines have been adopted extensively in motor omnibuses and the day is approaching when they will be used extensively in ordinary motor cars. Diesel engines use crude oil, and we can produce crude oil in Australia. If we change from petrol-burning vehicles to crude oil burning' vehicles the millions of gallons of petrol which we import every year will not be needed. There has been a great deal of propaganda by manufacturers of petrol-burning motor cars to the effect that diesel engines need refined oil, but there is the testimony of competent engineers and other experts to the contrary. One engineer, in fact, told me that a diesel engine could be run on butter fat. I do not know whether that is true, but that is what I was told. Whether it be true or not, the fact remains that diesel engines require for their working crude oil - oil that needs no refining.

Every day we hear statements from responsible Ministers concerning the defence of this country and the need for its proper development, but there can be no adequate defence of this country until it is rendered independent of the overseas petroleum fields. If this country became involved in a peril it could be brought to its knees almost before a shot was fired by a cutting off of supplies of petrol.

Mr SPEAKER - 'Order ! The honorable gentleman must confine his remarks to the subject before the Chair.

Mr LAZZARINI - I am pointing out that the possibility of establishing an. industry for the manufacture of diesel.propelled vehicles should occupy the attention of the Government. We are told that a mechanized army is the only army that is worth while, but of what use is it to create a mechanized army that is dependent on petrol for its motive power ?

Motor trucks are just as essential as motor cars. I have no figures, but I understand the disparity between the costs of motor trucks in this country and the costs overseas is as great as it is in the case of ordinary motor cars. I should like to see this Government use every power that it has at its command, including the tariff power, to ensure that the needs for Australia's successful defence are provided. I commend the honorable member for Capricornia for his having again ventilated this matter. From the information that is available we know that there are the engineering establishments and engineers in Australia capable of manufacturing a motor vehicle which would meet Australia's requirements.

A further consideration is the manufacture of spare parts and accessories. Australia, at the present time, is being exploited in the charges that are being imposed for spare parts. The Government should give attention to that matter.

If the Government does not get on with the job it must cease the collection of the tax on imported vehicles. The honorable member for Capricornia said that about £800,000 had been collected from this tax, but I think that the sum is nearer £1,000,000, and, as the result, the Government has a splendid fund with which to embark on the encouragement of the establishment of the industry to build complete motor vehicles in this country. The money which the Government has collected from the purchasers of motor cars would be sufficient to pay the bounty necessary to establish the industry. As soon as motor cars are completely made in Australia, the retail prices will fall by £100. The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) raises his eyebrows; but he realizes that, because of their propensity for exploitation, the American interests will do all they can to continue their exploitation of the Australian market.

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