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Thursday, 1 December 1938

Mr PROWSE (Forrest) .- 1 oppose the amendment of the 'Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde). Non-Labour members severely criticized the Scullin Government for increasing duties without referring the items to a Tariff Board, and the nonLabour government was elected by the people upon a promise that it would submit all such matters to the Tariff Board in the future. The same undertaking was given at Ottawa. I blamed certain members of the present Cabinet, when this matter of motor cars was dealt with, for trying to depart from that understanding, which was given to the Country party also. It is evident that the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) was making a veiled reference to members of the Country party in the Cabinet. I remind him that they were only asking the Government to stand to the undertaking given to them, - and at Ottawa. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition considers himself greater than the Tariff Board, and would have the House discard the recommendations of the board, which took evidence on oath from persons associated with the industry. I draw the attention of the people of Australia to the fact that, if he had the power, he would again disregard the board because of his obsession to protect industry, and to build up monopolies. The Tariff Board, after taking evidence from the big motor companies of Australia, stated in its summary of conclusions -

1.   The evidence before us convinces the board that it would be unwise at present to encourage or enforce the manufacture of the complete motor vehicle in Australia.

2.   The evidence suggests that some chassis parts could bc manufactured locally without heavy additional cost. The board has, howover, not sufficient information to enable such parts to be identified.

3.   The board wishes to express its considered opinion that the present selling prices of cars in Australia are far too high and that special care should be exercised to ensure that efforts to extend manufacture in Australia do not increase such prices.

4.   The board has not been able to arrive at uniform recommendations regarding the method of exploiting the possibilities mentioned in (2.) above and is, therefore, unable to agree as to the best means of giving effect to the Government's policy as set out in the terms of reference. The individual views of members on this and other aspects of the report are set out hereunder.

Those conclusions were signed 'by all of the members of the board. The board stated that it would be inadvisable to proceed with the manufacture of cars in Australia.

Mr White - That is its conclusion on the evidence available.

Mr PROWSE - The board had before it more evidence than is at the disposal of any honorable member here. One could have more confidence in the proposals of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition if those motor car parts already being manufactured here were being made to the advantage of the citizens of Australia; if, behind the shelter of the tariff wall, the manufacturers were giving service to the people, and were satisfied with a reasonable profit. Honorable members are aware, however, of the profiteering that goes on behind the tariff wall, and yet some of them, without attempting to correct that evil, are prepared to proceed with the manufacture of complete cars, so that the car which sells for £100 in the United States of America would sell here for £500. The Tariff Board reports that the duty on cars would more than pay the whole cost of wages.

Mr Forde - Does the honorable member know that the Chevrolet car is dearer in South Africa and New Zealand, where there is no motor body building industry, than it is here?

Mr PROWSE - I always take with a pinch of salt statements from any one who is so prejudiced as is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The honorable member mis-stated the price of a Chevrolet car in Australia. I was a recent purchaser of a Chevrolet and I know that he was astray in his figures by £25.

Mr Forde - I- used the figures given to me in reply to a question in this House.

Mr PROWSE - Even if it were conceded that the honorable member was correct, why should the price in Australia be so much greater , than the price in the United States of America? My answer is that the high price charged in Australia is due to the rake-off of 83 per cent, which is taken by the huge motorbody combine. The protectionist policy could be a help to Australia if the people protected would render a better service to the people of Australia.

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