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Thursday, 14 May 1936

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) . - Inquiries made by the departmental officers are comprehensive and impartial. The officers do not confine their examination to interviews with individuals; they also examine books, contracts, and other documents, with a view to ascertaining whether or not there is substance in these charges.Recently representations were made to me in this connexion by a distinguished British car manufacturer who visited Australia. I said that, in view of the delay in obtaining bodies for British chassis, it appeared strange that the manufacturers of British cars did not combine to manufacture bodies in Australia. He replied that Australia already had sufficient motor body builders to supply all the cars that this country required.

Senator Guthrie - If that be correct, it would appear that the body builders give preference to other makes of cars.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - In answer to an interjection which I directed to Senator Hardy, the honorable senator said that the contractors for the bodies of Morris cars were a long way behind with their deliveries. I have obtained a report which shows that the company which has the contract for bodies for Morris cars is up to date with deliveries with the exception of bodies for the 18-25 horse-power saloon. The contract for those bodies stipulated that delivery was to be made by the 28th December, 1935, but the builders were unable to commence delivery until late in March, 1936. Since that time, however, deliveries have been made regularly, but the company has not been able to overtake the arrears, although it is gaining ground. The body for that model car is of a new type, and requires fresh dies, which, as honorable senators know, take a long time to make, and cost a great deal. The delay in this case is mainly attributed to a shortage of skilled labour. The company has made every effort to avoid delay in delivery by working extra shifts, including week ends. It would appear that the local builder was too optimistic regarding his capacity to produce bodies, and as a result he has placed the car distributors in an awkward position.

Senator Guthrie - Did the contractor give preference to other makes of cars?

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The departmental officers say that that has not occurred. The position of a builder who has orders for 1,000 bodies is very different from that of a builder with, say, only 100 new bodies to make. The Government is convinced that there is no attempt on the part of body-builders to drive the British car off the Australian market: I give an assurance that the position will be closely watched by the officers of the Customs Department. The Government does not desire that the preference now given to British chassis should be subverted.

Amendment (by Senator Hardy) proposed -

That the House of Representatives be requested to amend paragraph 1 of sub-iteme by adding a new sub-paragraph (d), viz.: -

(d)   As prescribed by departmental bylaws, British, free.

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