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Friday, 15 May 1936

Senator GUTHRIE (Victoria) . - I support the request moved by Senator Johnston, first, because I think it will eventually increase and .spread employment; secondly, because it will have a tendency to swing some of the trade from the United States of America to Great Britain; and, thirdly, because, seeing that the raw material used in the manufacture of bodies is imported, we cannot damage anybody by allowing fabricated and unfabricated panels to be admitted free of duty. As a matter of fact, if thesepanels are allowed to come in free, more work will be provided for Australian workmen. How would this proposal affect the Ford works at Geelong, with which I am intimately acquainted? If British panels were admitted free of duty, not one man would be thrown out of employment in the Ford works, because the Ford Motor Company assembles bodies for its own chassis only; the factory is at present working day and night, and providing employment for a large number of men.

Senator Plain - The acceptance of the proposal might result in the erection of other assembly works.

Senator GUTHRIE - I agree,with the honorable senator that such a policy might result in the erection of assembly plants in places like Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong. I had an extraordinary experience some time ago in importing a second-hand motor car from England. A friend of mine bought a baby Ford sedan car in England about eight months ago at a cost of £120. After it had been run for 6,000 miles, he decided to bring it out to Australia. On his behalf, in addition to freight and other charges amounting to £20, 1 1 had to pay duty amounting to no less a sum than £130 10s. ! The duty on the body alone amounted to about £80. It will thus be seen that the duties proposed in the schedule now before the Senate are much- more reasonable. I approached the Customs Department in connexion with this matter, and I was informed that the minimum duty on motor bodies at the time of the importation was over £80. Though the duties imposed in the present schedule are, I admit, a great improvement, I cannot see that the request of Senator Johnston will have any ill effect on Australian working people and Australians generally.

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