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Thursday, 10 June 1926

Senator DUNCAN (New South Wales) . - When moving a previous request in connexion with this item, I indicated that I intended to draw the attention of the Minister (Senator Crawford) to what appears to me to be an -anomaly. The Government proposals are, in effect, a reflection upon Australian enterprise, and are detrimental to the investment of capital and the employment of Australian labour. I refer to the question of chassis, assembled and unassembled, but particularly ,to the latter. Under the 1921 tariff, the duties on unassembled chassis were, British preferential, 5 per cent. ; intermediate, 1\ per cent. ; and general, 10 per cent. That gave the importer of British unassembled chassis a preference of 5 per cent, over his foreign competitors. The rates of duty on assembled chassis were, British preferential, 1\ per cent. ; intermediate, 10 per cent.; and general, 12£ per cent., which maintained the margin of 5 per cent, in favour of British manufacturers. Under the item now before the committee, the proposed duties on unassembled chassis are, British preferential, free; intermediate, 1\ per cent. ; and general, \1\ per cent., which increases the preference to Great Britain, on unassembled chassis from 5 per cent, to 12£ per cent. It increases the duty under the general tariff against the importers of other than British motor cars unassembled, but the British preferential rate on assembled chassis has been decreased to 5 per cent., as against 1\ per cent, under the old tariff. I have no objection whatever to maintaining the preference to Great Britain so far as is possible. I should prefer to see - British cars running on our roads instead of those of American manufacture, provided they are equally suitable for the work, but, unfortunately, in 6he past, that has not been the experience of motor car users. The British manufacturers have been concerned not so much with supplying what we consider we should have, as with sending out what they think we should have.

Senator McLachlan - They are now changing their policy.

Senator DUNCAN - Yes, but I am setting out the position as it exists to-day. British manufacturers have been endeavouring to force Australian buyers to purchase cars of a type which they think desirable, and have refused to make cars suited to Australian conditions. Several firms have been importing unassembled chassis into Australia, some of which were of British and others of American manufacture. In the assembling of the chassis considerable employment is given to Australian workmen , and a good deal of capita] has been invested in the industry. Under the 1921 tariff the position was bad enough. They could import assembled British cars under a 7½ per cent. duty, whereas if they imported unassembled cars, they had to pay a duty of 10 per cent., showing an advantage of2½ per cent. in favour of the car assembled by British workmen. It is now proposed to allow assembled cars, of British manufacture, to be imported under a duty of 5 per cent., bub, if the assemblers import American or Continental chassis and employ Australian labour in assembling them, they will have to pay a duty of12½ per cent., as against 5 per cent. for the assembled car of British origin. There is a margin of7½ per cent. against the Australian assemblers in favour of British workmen. It appears to me that it ought to be possible to in some way maintain the British preference over the foreign manufacturers, without penalizing those engaged here in assembling chassis, irrespective of the country from which they are imported. I do not know whether it is necessary to maintain the present large margin, but it appears to me that the duties on unassembled chassis should be - British preferential, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; and general, 10 per cent. Such rates would, perhaps, suit those engaged in the assembling industry in Australia. Under my proposal British manufacturers would have a 10 per cent. margin on unassembled chassis, and on the assembled chassis 12½ per cent., which is a fair margin of preference.

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