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Friday, 15 May 1936

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) . - I understand that an u imbricated panel is simply pressed to shape, t»ut a fabricated panel would be used, say, for a door and would have the necessary bolt or screw holes for hinges or handles and similar attachments. The trimming of edges is apparently regarded by the trade as a part of the fabrication which may be. done overseas or in Australia. I shall endeavour to have inquiries made concerning the Hillman Minx cars mentioned by Senator McLeay. I understand that the dies, which would cost a considerable sum of money, were used in South Australia for some time. In answer to the point raised by Senator J. B. Hayes, I may say that on a British baby single-seater car, the duty on panels under the present rate of 9d. per lb., would be £2 14a., as against £15 under the 1933 tariff. On a British baby double-seater tourer, the duty on panels under the present rate of 9d. per lb., would be £3 0s. 9d., as against £25 under the 1933 tariff. On a British saloon car the duty on panels would be £13 2s. 6d., as against £32 10s. under the 1933 tariff, but that duty was subject to exchange adjustment. In this case the panels imported were in complete sets and were fabricated beyond trimming of the edges. They were thus subject to a duty of 9d. If imported unfabricated the duty would be 6d. per lb., and on a British singleseater baby car, the 'amount payable would be £1 16s. On a British doubleseater baby car it would be £2 0s. 6d., and on a British saloon car of medium weight £8 15s.

If there is any congestion in the motor body works or a hold up of supplies, the Minister has power to act under the request passed last night. The Government believes that the present rush of business is only temporary and is due almost solely to the heavy importations during the last few months. The Government cannot accept the request moved by Senator E. B. Johnston. These duties were imposed on the recommendation of the Tariff Board.

Broadly speaking, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada are the countries which this country obtains its requirements of motor chassis. The panels required to build bodies for these chassis would, if imported, naturally be drawn from the country whence the chassis originated. Under the provisions of the existing trade agreement between Canada and Australia, the general tariff rates apply to motor body panels of Canadian origin, but we are at the moment negotiating for a new agreement with that dominion. I explained the position in connexion with the negotiations on the discussion which took place with regard to agricultural implements. In respect to the British preferential rate, the request before the committee is to waive the duty upon fabricated British panels for motor car bodies. The rate of 6d. per lb. should not prove burdensome to the importers of British chassis.

Senator Guthrie - Why 13 the British preferential duty set out on a per lb. basis, while in the intermediate and general tariffs the duties are fixed ?

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - That arrangement is intended as a safeguard to prevent evasion of the intentions of the intermediate and foreign duties. Importers use all kinds of devices to bring in goods at the cheapest rates, and one does not blame them. Honorable senators will see the necessity for it when they realize that all over the world there is a tremendous urge in the manufacture of mechanical devices composed of steel to lighten the load in order that the power costs may be reduced with consequential benefit to users. Motor chassis and bodies to-day arc considerably lighter than they were formerly. This tendency is also to be observed in the railway systems of Great Britain and America where steps are being taken to lighten the rolling-stock.

The movement has been in progress in England for some time. The Tariff Board, with abundant caution, as lawyers would say, recommended the imposition of specific duties. There has been no deviation from the recommendation of the board with respect to the British preferential duty on motor body panels, which represents a tremendous reduction from that which operated hitherto, and it should not bear unduly on the importers.

I should like to emphasize again the importance of the motor body industry to Australia, and I remind honorable senators of what I told them last night with regard to views expressed by a leading British manufacturer of motor vehicles. When I suggested that the British companies should establish in Australia motor body works to supply their own requirements, he said that sufficient works were here to supply all requirements for many years ahead. Whether he was a little pessimistic regarding the future development of this country is not for me to say, but the course I recommended is the logical remedy if, as Senator E. B. Johnston has indicated, the manufacturers of British cars experience considerable difficulty in having bodies built in this country.

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