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Thursday, 14 May 1936

Senator DUNCAN-HUGHES (South Australia) . - I endorse what was so excellently said by Senator Foll on this subject. Senator Leckie has suggested that if there is a fault anywhere, it lies with the British manufacturer, and not with the Australian manufacturer. Surely he must admit, however, that the British manufacturer is at a disadvantage in having to comply with Australian conditions and to pay the high duties which have been imposed, and which make it so difficult for him to compete. Senator Leckie even went so far as to say that the British manufacturers had displayed no gift for organization. It seems to me that if protection is rendered, there should go with it an obligation upon the protected industries to provide the service required of them. To a very large extent, that obligation has been recognized in this industry and in others, but not always. One ground for complaint against high protection is that it tends to create a situation in which it is difficult or impossible to get adequate supplies. Within recent years, as many honorable senators know, there has been in Australia an ^sufficiency of glass, galvanized iron, textiles, motor car bodies and even molasses. Recently some one who had occasion to order from Adelaide a quantity of molasses on my behalf was informed by the firm to which he had given the order that it had repeatedly applied for a stock of molasses without success, though in Queensland, the material was practically being given away. This shortage of supplies in Australia has, in some cases, induced the Minister for Trade and Customs to lift temporarily restrictions upon imports.

We should not forget, when considering the motor-car industry in Australia, that, during the war, the British motor business was completely disorganized.

It was during that time that the American motor business obtained a tremendous advantage, which it has held since. I know that some honorable senators will say that the American manufacturers produced cars suitable for the Australian market, while the British manufacturers did not. That may he so, or it may not, but at least it must be conceded that the British manufacturers started after the war, at a tremendous disadvantage, and I am anxious to ensure, if I can, that they are now treated fairly. There are three large motor-body building firms in Australia, two of which happen to be in my ownState. The largest of these is Holdens, as it is called, and the building up of this enterprise was a remarkable achievement on the part of Mr. £. W.Holden. However, I think I am right in saying that there is now in this firm a preponderating proportion of American capital, so that, in the nature of things, the work done by the firm will be the work which General Motors wishes to have done.Ricbards' is very closely affiliated with the Chrysler company. Our only other large motor bodybuilding firm, is Buskin Motor Bodies Proprietary Limited of Melbourne. The body on a car which I own was built by that firm and is, I believe, quite a good job. But the firm is hopelessly over-glutted with work. Surely in such circumstances it would he wise for us to permit a limited number of motor bodies to be imported, so that British chassis which have been standing in showrooms and elsewhere for many months may be fitted with bodies without further delay. I do not desire to impute motives in this connexion, hut I have had submitted to me what I regard as irrefutable evidence that the big English motor manufacturing firms are not able to obtain deliveries of bodies in Australia at anywhere near contract time.

Senator Leckie - Have Holden's Limited been asked to supply bodies for those cars?

Senator DUNCAN-HUGHES - I cannot say. If inquiry were made on that subject, I have no doubt that conflicting reports would be obtained, but I do not base my case on what I hear from one or the other. The plain fact is that the supply of motor bodies in Australia is, undoubtedly, lagging far behind the demand. The Leader of the Opposition may think that this is proper, but I hold a different view. It is much better that the supplyshould be waiting on the demand. Undoubtedly, the British motor manufacturing industry is being detrimentally affected in Australia by the existing state of affairs. Great Britain, as we all know, is our best customer, a far better customer of Australia than the United States of America, and we should do what we can to encourage the sale of British motor cars in this country.

Request agreed to.

Progress reported.

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