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Thursday, 1 December 1938

Mr WHITE (Balaclava) .- Naturally I shall give my blessing to this bill which I piloted through the Cabinet. I would not alter a word of the speech which the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Perkins) delivered in support of it. He said exactly what I should have said myself had I introduced the measure. The purpose of the bill is to provide a bounty of 10s. for each radiator manufactured in Australia. The report of the Tariff Board on this subject was accompanied by two minority reports, but the board unanimously favoured the bounty principle, and the Government has accepted its recommendation. I feel, therefore, that all honorable members will be prepared to support the bill. The necessity for the manufacture of radiators in Australia is amply explained in the board's report, which points out that encouragement of the industry by means of bounty in its early stages will avoid any exploitation of the public. Although I wish that the bill had made provision for the automatic substitution of a duty for the proposed bounty at the end of two years, I must admit that the proposal that the whole situation should be reviewed by the Tariff Board at the expiry of that period is a reasonable alternative. Two firms in Melbourne and one in Adelaide, are at present engaged in this industry, and it should be possible, at the end of two years, to determine whether the bounty system should be continued, or whether a duty such as has been proposed, or a duty at a higher or lower rate, should be substituted for it.

The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) has moved an amendment to the effect that the bill should be withdrawn for redrafting in order to provide for the manufacture of complete motor chassis in Australia. I am as enthusiastic as any other honorable member in the House in supporting the proposal that complete motor vehicles should be manufactured in this country as soon as possible, but I do not think the honorable member's amendment will serve any useful purpose. It may, in fact, delay the achievement of the object he has in mind. Already hundreds of component parts of motor cars are being manufactured in Australia, such as pistons, piston rings, king pins, propellor shaft couplings, propellor shafts, rear axle shafts, shock absorbers, springs, bumper bars, batteries, bearings, brake shoes and brake bands, bushings of one kind and another, cam shafts, clutch plates and housings, clutch facings, connecting rods, crank shafts, motor bodies, and, in fact, most of the components of a motor vehicle. Only a small gap remains to be covered for Australia to engage in the production of the complete motor car. The manufacture of radiators in Australia will be a step in that direction.

The honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett) advanced a plan some time ago, with his trade diversion policy, by which this project could be implemented. I supported it enthusiastically. The Tariff Board report, however, was not so enthusiastic. I regret that the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) has stated that I tried to coerce the Tariff Board to bring in a report in favour of the manufacture of motor cars in this country.

Mr Prowse - I refer the honorable gentleman to the board's report.

Mr WHITE - Unfortunately, during the course of the inquiry by the Tariff Board, several commercial enterprises, which, in my opinion, could have undertaken the work of manufacturing motor vehicles in this country, did not show sufficient interest in the project to submit helpful evidence to the board. What I did was to ask the board to give reasons for establishing the industry here rather than reasons why it should not be established. The board's report is an honest document based on the evidence submitted to it. This evidence, however, was given almost solely by companies engaged in operations on a limited scale, or by companies hostile to the whole proposal.

Mr Lazzarini - It was evidence from interested parties.

Mr WHITE - I suppose that in inquiries of this description, it is almost inevitable that evidence would be mainly from interested parties. The Tariff Board, naturally, had to submit a report in accordance with the evidence furnished to it, and it recommended development step by step. The introduction of this bill is a forward step. I believe that Australia is due for industrial expansion on an even larger scale than that of the last six years, although our progress during that period was greater than ever before in our history. In that time, more than 4,600 new factories were established in the various

States. This shows the confidence of investors and employers of labour. The number of employees in factories increased during that period by almost 209,000 persons. This means, of course, that the home market for goods produced by our primary producers has considerably enlarged. The members of the Country party who last night solidly supported the proposal for a bounty of £4,000,000 for the wheat-growers should realize that every expansion of our industrial enterprises enlarges the home market for their products. We cannot regard this subject in a parochial fashion..

Mr Prowse - Some honorable members did their best, last night, to defeat the .proposals of the Government in respect of the wheat-growers.

Mr WHITE - Quite a lot of honorable members did not wish to see this burden of £4,000,000 placed mainly on the shoulders of the poorer sections of the people who are the largest consumers of bread. In my opinion, measures such as we are now considering, may properly be described as prudent protection, in that they permit new industries to be established without any exploitation of the general public. In the last six years, the value of our production in secondary industries increased from £110,000,000 to £188,000,000, and the wages bill from £56,000,000 to £96,000,000. These are notable figures. I say emphatically that industrial development such as we have experienced is absolutely essential to the well-being of this country. Quite properly, this Parliament has devoted a great deal of attention recently to defence measures to ensure national security. It is almost equally important that we shall take all reasonable steps to ensure our economic security. If we do not develop economic strength we shall never be able to attract to Australia the man power which is essential to its safety. We need still further industrialization in this country. ' New industries should be established which will spread employment over as large an area as possible. We should also encourage what I might call industrial immigration. Australia is still very far behind Great Britain in industrialization. In fact, we are industrialized to only one-third of the extent of the United Kingdom. We are a people with the same traditions and the some trading outlook as the people of the Motherland, and we should do our utmost to develop secondary industries in this country. I look forward confidently to the day when the complete motor car will be manufactured on a commercial scale in this country. The Government is on trial in respect of its protectionist policy in this connexion. I am responsible for the invitation to manufacturers . in all countries of the world, to submit to the Government proposals for the manufacture of motor chassis in this country.

Mr Ward - What did the honorable member do to encourage this industry while he was a member of the Cabinet?

Mr WHITE - The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) could not have been in the House at the beginning of my speech. I suggest that he read the Hansard report of it when it is available. I may add to what I have already said on the point which he has raised, that while I was in England I used every spare moment at my disposal in inspecting motor car manufacturing establishments and in investigating this whole subject. I received the greatest courtesy in this respect from that notable industrialist, Lord Nuffield, who was at great pains to do everything possible for me. I would not like honorable members to imagine, however, that he is, himself, enthusiastic about undertaking motor car manufacturing in Australia, for he is not. I inspected many factories in which components as well as complete cars were being manufactured ; and I discussed the subject with representatives of many large companies. I assured those whom I met that every assistance would be given to firms which were prepared to begin operations in Australia. I myself fixed the 31st March as the date by which proposals should be submitted to the Government. I do not think, therefore, that the honorable member for Capricornia would be wise to persist in his amendment. I know that definite proposals will be placed before the Government, and in any case the whole subject will be reviewed four months from now. I hope that some Australian companies will also be sufficiently interested to submit propositions for the consideration of the Government.

Mr Forde - Unfortunately, the Minister for Trade and Customs is not a member of the inner group of the Cabinet which will determine policy in. this connexion.

Mr WHITE - That is so. That is one of the reasons why I resigned from the Cabinet, and I know the views of some of the members of the inner group on this subject. However, I do not wish to discuss that matter any further.

Other machinery manufacturing enterprises, as well as those interested in the production of motor chassis, should be encouraged to establish themselves in Australia. I am glad that the schedule to the bill leaves the way open for the manufacture of other motor car parts in addition to radiators.

The honorable member for Capricornia has also intimated that he proposes to move at the committee stage of the bill for tho insertion of what may be called a " labour clause ". This also, I suggest, is unnecessary. The position of the workers is safeguarded, for we have arbitration courts, wages 'boards, or other wage-fixing tribunals in every State which may be entrusted to see that the interests of the workers are protected.

Mr Lazzarini - There would be no harm in inserting such a provision.

Mr WHITE - I am not so sure of that. Is the proposal of the honorable member for Capricornia constitutional? Some of us remember the decision of the High Court as long ago as 1908 in connexion with what was known as the " new protection ". If not, it may be declared invalid by the High Court, and, therefore, may have the effect of wrecking the whole scheme. I urge the honorable member not to proceed along the lines he has suggested,

I hope that the bill receives the unanimous endorsement of honorable members. As the proposal has been most carefully investigated by the Tariff Board and the board has unanimously recommended the adoption of the bounty principle, it would be wrong for us to reject it. I trust that the bill will have a speedy passage and that before very long complete motor chassis will be manufactured in Australia.

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