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Wednesday, 24 August 1921

Senator DE LARGIE ("Western Australia) .. - -For the information of the Committee, I may state that there are two factories producing tractors in Victoria, one controlled by Jelbart Brothers, at Ballarat, which is a fairly up-to-date establishment, and the other by Mr. McDonald, at Burnley, who also has a modern plant. These are the manufacturers of the two best Australian machines at present on the market. I do not know what is being done in the other States. Incidentally, I may mention that it is rather strange that not one letter has been received by any honorable senator in connexion with the manufacture of these tractors, -which proves that their representatives are not " lobbying " for support.

Senator Vardon - I think that can be said concerning both sides.

Senator DE LARGIE - Perhaps so. The importations of light tractors is not great, as the business is well established iii Victoria at present. I am surprised that two firms operating in Victoria have not approached us in this matter, seeing that we have been generally inundated with correspondence concerning various other kinds of machinery.

Senator Lynch - Have not they done the same as other manufacturers who have secured increases!

Senator DE LARGIE - They have not approached us.

Senator Lynch - Neither have other manufacturers.

Senator DE LARGIE - Yes ; any number of them. The products of the two firms I have mentioned are the best on the market at present, and they are as well within the reach of the small' man as are any other tractors. The largest and heaviest tractors, with the exception of the Fordson, are all of American or British manufacture, but the Australian engineers, recognising the desirableness of having a lighter machine to suit Australian requirements, have produced a satisfactory machine.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - A Fordson is made in America for £140, and the one the honorable senator purchased cost nearly £500.

Senator DE LARGIE - The cost of mine was about £470. I am not prepared to accept the American price of manufacture as accurate until that figure has been verified. "We know that the Ford works are able to manufacture light cars at a low rate, because of the number produced, and I dare say it would bc found if investigation were made that the Australian costs are heavier owing to the lack of capital. If Jelbart Brothers, of Ballarat, could command some of the capital that is available in America they would be able to increase their output and reduce their prices.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is not there a duty of £90 onFordson tractors?

Senator DE LARGIE - That does not explain the tremendous difference in the cost. I am able to speak of the Australian machine because I know what it is capable of doing; it has the additional advantage of being able to " work on petrol, kerosene, or crude oil.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Did the honorable senator give the cost of aFordson tractor ?

Senator DE LARGIE - It is about £450 free on rails Melbourne, and mine cost approximately £500 delivered on the farm. Since we can manufacture such a machine in Australia, it is unnecessary for us to trouble about imports from America. I visited Canada some time ago, and with a relative of mine, who had been living at Winnipeg for some time, spent a couple of days in that big wheat-growing centre. I saw nearly all the tractors that were in use there, and I must say that I prefer the Australian machine to anything that I examined, either in England or America. We do not need to import tractors for use on our wheat farms. This item deals with quite a number of engines, but I am speaking only of tractors to be used on wheat farms.

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