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Wednesday, 16 November 1938

Mr PRICE (Boothby) . - I am in sympathy with the proposal submitted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition ("Mr. Forde), hut I think that another opportunity might have been taken to ventilate it. Up to the present stage, most of the speakers have been members of the Opposition. I welcome> the declaration by the newly-appointed Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Perkins), that the Government favours the building of motor cars in this country. Australia has the brains and the material necessary for the establishment .of this industry. I have carefully perused the report of the Tariff Board, and have carried out an independent investigation in order to discover the message of the board to the Parliament and the people regarding this matter. The inquiry was held in accordance with the Tariff Board Act 1921-1934 for the purpose of ascertaining -

The , best means of giving effect to the Government's policy of establishing in Australia the manufacture of engines and chassis of motor vehicles, with consideration given to the general national and economic aspect

The report of the board, if read a few times without the letter from the ex-Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) would leave nothing to be said in favour of the continuance of any kind of industry in Australia, whether primary or secondary. A great deal of time must have been spent by the board in the collation of material from the offices of the large overseas firms, whose interests lie in preventing any development within our borders of competition which might in any way affect their plans. The whole of the report is practically devoted to the discussion of the operations of the great American organization which now has a stranglehold upon the world's transport industry, and can practically dictate its own terms and conditions in all countries coming under its irresistible control of the prices of cars, heavy vehicles, and many component parts. The board, in its report, did not show how many of the overseas companies are entwined in the meshes of the great American net that has control of factories in England, Canada, Japan, Germany, Russia, and many other countries, including Australia.

The highlight of the Tariff Board's report is the statement that the great industrial organization at Newcastle established by Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, is able to sell its products at prices below those at which the great firms can buy similar goods in America. It is to be hoped that the board's disclosure will not mean the absorption of the greatest of our secondary industries into the big American financial group. The board evidently concentrated its attention on the establishment in Australia of works to produce 35,000 units per annum, which, in itself, was a wrong basis for its conclusions.

The genesis of the great Ford organization was the personality of a man with no capital. The General Motors corporation can trace its beginning to the grouping of several individually hopelessly small concerns, among which were the makers of the original Chevrolet. In 1921, the manufacturers of the various American cars, which are the basis on which the present huge groups have been built, were producing vehicles assembled, from parts made in various crude factories, and selling them in their own country under the shelter of most rigidly-protected markets. It is interesting to recall the position in Great Britain" immediately prior to that time. The manufacturers of many kinds of British cars, lorries and tractors, impressed with the great growth of some of the American companies which were concentrating on mass-production methods, organized a company, known as the Harper-Bean Corporation, with the huge capital of about £7,500,000. This organization took into its caro for central marketing purposes such firms as it thought desirable, including the makers of the Humber, Swift, Star, Bean, and Vulcan cars and Glasgow tractors, and a great many others, to whom the central organization gave orders on mass-production lines. This led to group buying of materials in large quantities, and heads of British manufacturing industries were invited to visit the United States of America to study mass-production methods first hand. This friendly act resulted in American help in the selection of staff to put into effect the new methods of production, and the visitors returned to England with full knowledge of the various processes. The sequel was the crashing of the British attempt to introduce mass-production methods, and the return of the experts to their jobs in America. England, Scotland and Ireland, at this period, experienced very difficult times. Most of the car manufacturers went into some form of liquidation, receivership or control, and amongst those who were able to weather the storm, or to reconstruct their companies, were some of the greatest of the present firms. In my opinion, the Tariff Board did not not go into the matter submitted to it so fully as the Parliament and the people had a right to expect. The board should have investigated, either personally or by deputy, the manufacture of engines that were brought under its notice during the inquiry.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The honorable member has exhausted his time.

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