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Wednesday, 24 August 1921

Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) . - Senator Gardiner must have been thinking of motor lorries when he talked about using tractors in connexion with warfare. I have worked a tractor on my farm for the last four and a half years. Five years ago, when I was in Great Britain, and when I passed through America on my way back to Australia, I looked at the best makes of tractor in both countries, and I came hack here and bought an Australian-made engine, which, after four and a half years' work, has proved to be a most substantial and economical piece of machinery. But a tractor cannot be used in warfareexcept for very heavy guns and similar tractor loads.

Senator Henderson - It could not get out of its own road.

Senator DE LARGIE - A bullock team would go as fast.

Senator Gardiner - If that is your kind of tractor, you have a very poor one.

Senator DE LARGIE - I have seen the Australian-made tractor in competition with tractors made in Great Britain and America. At Werribee a few years ago three American, two British, and three Australian tractors were put to a severe competitive test. The three successful tractors were made in Ballarat; the next best was made at Burnley, and " Sunshine " came third.

Senator Vardon - How does the price of the Australian tractor compare with that of the imported engine?

Senator DE LARGIE - Everything considered, it is as cheap as the imported. The Ballarat make of tractor, which has been doing almost every kind of work for the last four years and a half on my farm, can not only plough a greater area of land in a shorter time, but does so at a smaller cost in oil consumption than almost any other machine. There is one consideration that keeps tractors out of general use on the big wheat farms to-day, and that is the cost of liquid fuel, which is a very important item. If this fuel were cheaper I honestly believe that every wheat farm would have one at work.

Senator Rowell - How many gallons a day does your tractor consume?

Senator DE LARGIE - It all" depends on the work done. These machines are most useful in the rough and hard work of a farm, especially in breaking up the land at the beginning of a season, after it has been baked by the summer sun, when the strain injures the shoulders of the best of horses, no matter how careful one may be. Again, in the work of harvesting, in the heat of summer, the tractor is of great use with the large 10-ft. harvesters.

Senator Gardiner - What is the selling price of your tractor ?

Senator DE LARGIE - I bought mine for just about £500; but I think that since then the price has gone up slightly. I have seen many makes of tractors from America, including the Cleveland and the Fordson.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What is the Fordson like?

Senator DE LARGIE - It is a very good little machine; but it has its limits. It is very light, and it is impossible to change the speed so as to regulate the machine that is working behind it. That tractor may cost a little less than my machine did, but not much less than £500. If there is any industry worthy of encouragement it is that of making traction engines, and none better can be obtained than those made in Australia. I feel confident that we would regret any action of ours, by a reduction of the duties or otherwise, that lessened the chances of these machines coming into common use. In the Werribee test competition the Jelbart ploughed 3.57 ''acres in' 2.82 hours, and consumed 6.26 gallons of fuel; the best American tractor ploughed 3.50 acres in 3.67 hours, and consumed 9.30 gallons of fuel; the be3t British tractor ploughed 1.40 acres in 4.69 hours, and consumed 7.53 gallons of fuel.

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