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Wednesday, 16 November 1938

Mr POLLARD (BALLAARAT, VICTORIA) - In my opinion, it is essential that the motor chassis manufacturing industry should be established in Australia, first for defence purposes; secondly, for employment reasons; and thirdly, for expanding the home market for our primary producers. We know very well that the available markets for Australian primary production in countries overseas are being rapidly contracted. Consequently, it is necessary for us to provide a larger market at home, if it can be done. The establishment of the motor chassis manufacturing industry in this country demands the adoption by the Government of a vigorous, if unorthodox, policy. Australia has produced many great men who, when the call came to them, filled with distinction notable positions in many professions and callings. Sir Denison Miller proved his capacity as Governor of the Commonwealth Bank; Sir John Higgins took charge of the vast undertaking of handling Australia's wool during the war and post-war periods; Dr. Bradfield showed himself capable of coping with all the engineering difficulties associated with the building of the Sydney Harbour bridge; and Sir John Monash became one of the most successful generals of any country in the Great War. I believe that if the Government would take its courage in both hands, and choose a competent Australian engineer to organize the motor chassis manufacturing industry of this country, success would be assured. We have within Australia all the raw material required, including the iron, steel, brass and copper. "We can manufacture such aluminium as we need, and I believe we could also provide all other raw materials essential to this undertaking. If the right man were selected and the Government said to him, " We charge you with the responsibility, under ministerial direction, of organizing, on an efficient production .basis, within the next twelve months, the production of the motor chassis essential to the economic life of Australia," the enterprise would very shortly be placed on a sound footing. We should not regard the report of the Tariff Board as the last word on the subject. Surely Parliament must sometimes take the responsibility of acting on its own initiative. The reports of expert authorities are not always correct. Australia, like many other countries of the world, is facing an emergency, and given a satisfactory lead, it will meet the situation effectively. We have many eminent engineers in this country. We also have a large army of competent tradesmen, and many satisfactory buildings and building sites. As a matter of fact, we are producing in this country to-day practically every part of a motor car, including gears, radiators, springs, wheels, pistons, piston rings, crankshafts, and, in fact, all the component parts that are needed. Perhaps one of the big problems that would need to be faced has relation to the number of different types of motor vehicles in use. I suppose that between 30 and 40 different makes of cars are in common use.

Sir Henry GULLETT - The number is nearer 70 or 80.

Mr POLLARD - I accept the word of the honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett) who speaks with some authority on {he subject. We have a market for about 88,000 new motor chassis annually. Obviously it would be impossible for us to manufacture 80 different types to supply this market. But if the Government were courageous enough, it could select three heavy types of car, three medium types, three light types, and three truck types, and declare that no types apart from those selected should be placed upon the market in this country. Within five or ten years the situa tion could be resurveyed, when, in consequence of the ingenuity of our engineers, it might be found that the variety could be altered. Possibly, a standardized type of vehicle could be devised. There is no necessity for the great multiplicity of motor vehicles at present in use. The motor chassis manufacturing industry lends itself in a remarkable way to economic decentralization. Plants for the manufacture of various parts could be established in different country districts, and the component parts could be brought together at specified assembling centres. The manufacture of certain component parts has practically nothing to do .with the manufacture of certain other component parts. For example, the manufacture of carburettors has nothing to do with the manufacture of cylinder blocks; the manufacture of pistons has nothing to do with, the manufacture of chassis members; and so on. Under a proper: organized policy, these different components could be manufactured at centres fairly widely apart, and the final assembly could be made at the most economic points. The production of a motor chassis is, from an engineering point of view, ' comparatively simple. Petrol engines do not work under very high pressure. We are producing hundreds, and possibly thousands of Diesel engines which work under a compression pressure of anything from 600 to 800 lb. per square inch, whereas the ordinary petrol engine works under a three atmosphere pressure. Ronaldsons and Tippett of Ballarat are turning them out now, as also are Kellys of Melbourne. In the other States there are dozens of manufacturers doing the same work. Instruments of various kinds are being manufactured that require a much higher degree of accuracy than motor car engines. I hope that this Government, which is charged with the defence of the country, with the organization of production so as to find employment for the people, and with the finding of markets for our primary produce, will take this matter in hand, and impose a prohibitive duty on imported motor cars. I hope that it will give manufacturers here an opportunity to select from, say. three different types, the one which they will undertake to make.

Mr SPEAKER -The honorable member's time has expired.

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