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Friday, 3 December 1965

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh) . - Mr. Chairman, I want to say something about a restrictive practice that has not yet been mentioned. This relates to automotive spare parts, the distribution of which at present is controlled by the Wholesale Automotive Supplies and Parts Association, which is composed of 100 manufacturers and several hundred retailers. There is no written agreement but there is a tacit understanding that those who join the Association, which is known shortly as W.A.S.P.A., will be blackballed for periods ranging from several months to permanently immediately they sell beneath the agreed prices. No manufacturer is permitted to supply any more automotive parts to a retail house that is blackballed. Very few distributors are prepared to risk the displeasure of the Association, because they know that a manufacturer cannot supply an independent distributor but must supply to members of the Association. This means that a distributor selling Repco, Champion, Bosch or other products must be prepared to have his supplies cut off immediately he contravenes the unwritten law that the prices laid down by this Association must be adhered to.

The point about which I am particularly concerned in all this, Sir, is that excessive charges are imposed on the motoring community by tied houses trading in petrol, motor tyres and spare parts. These excessive charges are causing motorists to think twice about keeping their cars on the roads.

So the number of cars going off the roads is causing great concern to the car manufacturers. One of the main reasons for cars going off the roads is the cost of maintaining vehicles. This is becoming excessive and is getting far beyond a level that the ordinary person can afford. Insurance premiums have risen to astronomical heights. Greatly excessive prices are charged for ordinary spare parts. Because of restrictive practices, petrol, tyres and everything else that a motorist needs are far dearer than they ought to be. The car manufacturers themselves are partially to blame for the fact that people are not buying new cars. They are the manufacturers of spare parts, the cost of which, as I have stated, is excessive. General Motors-Holden's Pty. Ltd., for example, manufacture most of the spare parts for Holden vehicles. This manufacturer is allowing the practices that I have described to be carried on and appears to be doing nothing at all to stop them.

I shall conclude by referring to some criticism that has been made by honorable members opposite about the use of the term "public interest" because the effectiveness of one clause under discussion will be determined by the Tribunal discovering whether or not the restrictions or practices stated in the clause offend against public interest. I think that there has been a lot of ill-informed criticism by honorable members opposite on the use of the term public interest.

Mr Daly - Not by members of the Country Party.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON - The members of the Country Party do not appear to be taking any interest in the debate at all. None of them has participated in it. One would think that they were listening-

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