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Thursday, 1 December 1938

Mr FORDE (Capricornia) .- The Motor Industry Bounty Bill, commonly known as the radiator bounty bill, is one that the Opposition feels it can support, but it will first endeavour to have an amendment carried to the second reading as an indication to the Government that it is dissatisfied with this puny effort to establish a complete motor car manufacturing industry in Australia. I move -

That all the words after "That" be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - "the bill be withdrawn, and redrafted and re-introduced without delay to provide for the extension of the 'bounty system to the production of motor car engines and chassis of motor vehicles."

I believe that the purpose of the Government in introducing this measure is merely to sidetrack the larger proposal for the manufacture of motor car engines and chassis in Australia. If the amendment is carried, there will be no occasion for any unreasonable delay in reintroducing the measure. "We want all radiators manufactured in Australia, but we want to go further than that.

The Government should proceed with the proposal enunciated by the honorable member for Henty (Sir . Henry Gullett) in 1936, when he was a Minister. If Australia entered on the production of motor engines at the rate of 35,000 a year, which the trade could absorb, direct employment would be afforded to 10,000 persons, and the industry would support directly and indirectly 40,000. That would be of tremendous assistance at the present time when we have 160,000 persons out of work, and when parents are at their wits' end to know how to apprentice their sons to suitable tradeswhen'they leave school.

This subject was investigated by the Tariff Board which, in its report, states -

1.   The value of plant required is not great.

2.   There are no great technical difficulties in construction.

3.   Australian manufacturers have been pro ducing radiator cores for replacements satisfactorily and this experience will assist them in the production of complete assemblies. Some concerns which are likely to undertake radiator manufacture arc experienced in manufacture of metal pressings.

4.   Allowance by oversea chassis suppliers for the non-inclusion of radiator assemblies is usually relatively higher than allowances for non-inclusion of other chassis parts made with more expensive equipment and involving much heavier overhead expenditure which is not reduced by non-supply in portion of the output.

The report goes on to say -

Furthermore, evidence placed before the board and discussed later in this report indicates that the local manufacurers should be able to supply radiator assemblies which are required for equipment in large quantitiesat littleexcess over their present cost to chassis assemblers.

Generally, the Tariff Board does not place any great importance on the value of this industry. It says that the value of the plant required is not great and that the industry will give direct employment to probably 70 persons. It is a puny effort in comparison with the bigger proposal to encourage the manufacture of motor car engines and chassis in Australia, which would give direct employment to 10,000 persons.

Mr Brennan - How many bites at the cherry does the Government need?

Mr FORDE - Apparently, a great many. The Government does not know just where it is going. One day it is being pushed one way by the Minister for Commerce (Sir EarlePage), who wants to tear down the tariff wall to the 1928 level, and by the representatives of overseas manufacturers, who try to control the Government. Then Ministers attend a dinner of the Chamber of Manufactures in Sydney and say, " We believe in a tariff to protect Australian industries on a scientific basis."

Mr Brennan - Ministers move in opposite directions.

Mr FORDE - True, and they speak with a half a dozen different voices The radiator industry is only a trifling step forward. Nevertheless, it had opposition before the Tariff Board. I find that it was strongly opposed by the representative in Australia of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Limited, of London. He said that, in his opinion, Australia could not manufacture radiators economically and efficiently, and he strongly opposed the proposed assistance to the industry. Then we have the Ford Company in Geelong, for which the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) is such a great advocate.

Mr Lazzarini - They are speed-up merchants.

Mr FORDE - Yes, as my honorable friend interjects, they are speed-up merchants. The Ford Company took a leading part in opposition to the manufacture of motor-car engines in Australia, because it has a factory in Canada to manufacture for the world market. So long as we allow ii to go on manufacturing in Canada for the world market, it will continue to do so. It will not come within the Australian tariff wall until a government with sufficient courage to stand for its protectionist principles takes control of the treasury bench. The same applies to some of the other big manufacturers like General Motors, which have their roots in the United States of America. They, too, manufacture for the world market, and they are opposed to establishing any units in Australia unless it pays them to do so. Unless this Parliament gives adequate tariff protection to an Australian motor car manufactiuring industry and until General Motors and other big corporations fear that they will lose the Australian market, they will never be prepared to establish plants in Australia for the manufacture of motor car engines. The overseas manufacturers are opposed "to every progressive step towards the development in Australia of a motor car industry.

My reading of the Tariff Board's report has forced me to the conclusion that National Radiators Proprietary Limited, whose representative gave evidence before the board, will be able to deliver the goods. It intends to establish a branch in each State and it has given an assurance that it can deliver 1,000 units a week in Melbourne alone, working 70 per cent, capacity and one shift a day.

I find in the summary of evidence that, if 40,000 radiators are made in Australia of the approximate 88,000 required annually, employment will be given to 70 persons directly, twelve in skilled work and the balance in unskilled work. The Tariff Board says that, in its opinion, indirect employment will probably be given to an additional 200 persons; but only 70 will obtain direct employment. The gravamen of my complaint is that the Government had not the courage to go on with the big project that was enunciated by the honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett) and endorsed by the Government in 1936.

Mr Brennan - No policy of the Government could last two years.

Mr FORDE - Unfortunately, "that is so. It seems to have no definite fixed idea for any period. The Government has been weakened considerably in its protectionist policy by the resignation of leading Ministers who found their position intolerable because of the pressure of the freetrade interests which have permeated the Government. It has lost men like the honorable member for Henty - and the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), both of whom have taken a strong stand ' for the establishment of an industry in Australia to manufacture motor car engines and chassis. The occupant of the position of Minister for Trade and Customs should be a member of the inner Cabinet. He was excluded, and the Country party was given two nominees.

Mr Brennan - It nearly lost the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies).

Mr FORDE - The Attorney-General hesitated on the bridge, and eventually decided not to leave the Cabinet, but evidently he has been overborne by the Minister for Commerce. If the Government fails to go on with the proposal for the manufacture of motor-car engines in Australia in a comprehensive manner, it will be definite evidence that the honorable member for Henty was right when he said in this House that there was some sinister influence at work which prevented the Government from going on with the proposal. Motor-car engines and chassis can be manufactured in this country quite as economically and efficiently as the " fashion end " of the cars - the todies - are already manufactured here. We all know that there wa3 an avalanche of opposition to the manufacture' of motor-car bodies in this country when it was first proposed. We have seen that opposition broken down, and £2,000,000 invested in the industry, which gives direct employment to 12,000 people. Just as that opposition was broken down when it was shown that we had the business men and engineers in this country to turn out bodies very efficiently, so will opposition to an industry for the manufacture of complete cars be broken down when there is in office a government which will have the courage to establish that industry. I am firmly convinced, after a good deal of consideration of this matter, that, if the Government would only take the bold step forward and establish this industry, it will create an epoch in the development of the secondary industries of Australia. Cars could be manufactured in Australia at lower prices than are now paid for Chevrolets and Fords, the engines of which are manufactured overseas, giving employment to other people. In New Zealand and South Africa, where there are no large bodybuilding works, the retail prices of cars are higher than they are in Australia, where80 per cent. of the retail price of the car is represented in locallymanufactured parts. A Chevrolet sedan sells at £381 in South Africa, £361 in New Zealand, and £352 in Australia. That will, I hope, knock out for all time the contention of the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) that protection is synonymous with high prices, that as soon as protection is given to an industry the people of the country pay higher prices for the finished product. That is the honorable gentleman's invariable contention, but in the next breath he comes along and says, " "We want a bounty from the Australian consumers for the wheatgrowers ". The consumers are very largely employees in secondary industries, because 500,000 are directly employed in secondary industries to-day.

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