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Friday, 15 May 1936

Senator FOLL (Queensland) . - I cannot understand the suggestion by the Minister that the manufacturers of British cars, for which the Australian market is only small, should combine for the purpose of making arrangements for the building of bodies in Australia. It would be audacious for Australia to sug-. gest to the manufacturers of the Morris, "Wolseley, Austin, and other types of British motor cars that they should combine on the same lines as General Motors have combined in America, if they do not wish to do' so. The reason why I am inclined to support the request moved by Senator Johnston is, that if we allowed panels, whether fabricated or unfabricated, to come into this country from Great Britain, the motor-body industry would be .spread throughout Australia and not centralized in one part, as it now is. In Brisbane, there is not one bodybuilding firm strong enough or big enough to acquire the most expensive dies which are necessary before panels can he "made;

Senator Hardy - The honorable senator is advocating the importation of " knock-down " bodies ?

Senator FOLL - Yes, if "knockdown" bodies were imported, they could be assembled and welded in Australia. Motor-body builders in Queensland are absolutely dependent on one or two big firms in other parts of the Commonwealth to obtain panels for the assembling of motor bodies. If British panels were allowed to come into this country duty free, the cost of British cars would be reduced, as the very considerable overhead costs involved in the installation of dies would 'be eliminated and, in very many of the smaller towns, even in the country districts, assembling plants would be established. Hope's Body "Works Proprietary Limited, in Brisbane, is a case in point. If it were able to obtain panels duty free, this firm would be able to employ many more men than it does at present. No objection can fairly be advanced that the importation of panels would injure the Australian steel trade, because Australian steel is not used in the manufacture qf panels for American or English cars. The whole of the steel is imported in sheets, either from Great Britain or from America.

Senator Brown - Can the steel he manufactured here ?

Senator FOLL - I believe the statement has been made that it will he manufactured here, but not for some years to come.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It will be manufactured here next year.

Senator FOLL - '.Well, it has been a long time coming. For the whole of the time the panels have been made in this country the raw material has been brought in from overseas. In order to give the British manufacturers better opportunities, and to expand the Australian motor-building industry, which at present is virtually monopolized by two or three big firms, the importation of British panels, on a duty-free basis, should be permitted. The Australian industry could do the whole of the upholstering, carpentry, cabinet-making, and other work associated with the assembly of motor vehicles, and, I venture to say, the body-building industry would be spread all over Australia.

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