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Friday, 15 May 1936

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) . - I propose to place before the committee some information regarding this inquiry for a thousand Nash bodies, and I shall leave it to honorable senators to judge for themselves whether it was a legitimate inquiry, or whether it was made with the object of providing propaganda which is sow being used in this Parliament. In March of this year, three of the leading body-builders in Australia were requested to quote for a quantity of 1,000 bodies for 1936 model Nash cars. The replies furnished to the inquiries by General Motors Holden's Limited indicated that it would be necessary for new dies to be developed before that company could supply. As General Motors-Holden's Limited was aware that the kind of body referred to had actually been produced by the Ruskin Motor Body Works, which company had already, at great cost, developed the necessary dies, it advised the inquirer that it would not be economical for either the body-builder or the distributor to be involved in the expense of developing new dies, particularly as the 1936 season was then well advanced. General MotorsHolden's Limited suggested that bodies for the 1936 model might be obtained from Ruskins, and that they would be pleased to quote for 1937 requirements.

The Ruskin Motor Body Works informed Automobiles (Western Australia) Limited that, while they could supply reasonable quantities, an order for 1,000 bodies was a different proposition. Ruskins requested particulars of the requirements of Nash distributors in other States, and when informed that the quote was required for Western Australia alone, advised the inquirer that the company's present production programme did not permit of delivery being given under six months, and, in view of a possible change in design within that period, the furnishing of a quotation was superfluous.

T.   J. Richards and Sons Limited informed Automobiles (Western Australia) Limited that it was far too late in the season to call for bodies for 1936 models. In support of the statement this bodybuilder pointed out that blue prints for 1937 models for other American car distributors were then in the company's possession. Richards also suggested that 1936 model bodies might be obtained from Ruskins, who were supplying the Victorian and South Australian distributors of Nash cars.

An analysis of the position indicates that the proposition placed - before the local body-builders was hardly a fair one. It is 'well known in the industry that the development of the necessary dies for any particular body takes a considerable time, and involves a large expense. It is also recognized that, to ensure the supply of bodies for any particular season, distributors must make their arrangements with the bodybuilders some time before the season commences. In this connexion it is known that distributors for other makes of cars made arrangements with body-builders for 1936 models during September and October, 1935, while Automobiles (Western Australia) Limited only initiated inquiries towards the end of March, 1936. The body-builders approached were, no doubt, of the opinion that the inquiry was not a firm one, and that little possibility existed that an order of this magnitude would eventuate. The builders are alive to the probable Australian demand for any particular make of car, and, no doubt, took into account that the Western Australian demand for 1936 models of the Nash car was not likely, to reach the figure for which a quote was sought. The total registrations of new Nash cars in the Commonwealth for the year 1933 was approximately 500, of which Western Australia's share was particularly small. Indeed, only nine Nash cars were registered in the metropolitan area in Western Australia during 1936. On this account the inquiry for 1,000 bodies for Western Australia alone could hardly have .been a genuine one. In the circumstances, I think that' honorable senators will agree that the attitude of the body-builders approached was the only one that could reasonably have been adopted. The inquiry was made far too late in the season, and the quotation sought was for a quantity which could not possibly be required or absorbed. If this distributor were to approach the Ruskin Motor Bodies Limited for the supply of a smaller number of bodies approximating the possible demand in Western Australia, it is possible that his requirements may be supplied, although the 1936 season is too far advanced for any distributor to place orders and expect delivery within a reasonable time. The Department of Trade and Customs wrote to Automobiles (Western Australia) Limited on the 6th of May, asking to be furnished with particulars regarding the number of 1935 Nash cars sold in Western Australia. The letter stated -

I should be also glad of advice as to whether your inquiry from local body-builders for a quotation for 1,000 bodies was a firm one; that is, whether your company has reasonable expectation of being able to dispose of in Western Australia a number of 1930 model Nash cars approximating the quantity for which the quotation for bodies therefor was sought from the local body-builders.

So far no reply has been forthcoming. I advise honorable senators that they do not help their argument by seeking to buttress it with a case of that kind. If there is a genuine grievance regarding supplies, and it seems that there is in some instances, let us rectify it in the proper way, but honorable senators should not lend their support to a case which has been obviously worked up for the purpose of trying to discredit the Australian manufacturers of motor bodies.

It has been complained that the distributors of English cars have not been able to obtain supplies of bodies. The Australian distributors of Austin cars, who were evidently more alert than some of their competitors, placed a contract in September or October of last year with General Motors for supplies of bodies, and those bodies are now being built. I. do not know whether the arrangement is being continued. The Morris distributors, apparently, did not act in time, and they are having difficulty in obtaining supplies. The Government has given a promise that it will admit panels under by-law in order to meet any genuine shortage, but it is absurd to suggest that English bodies should be admitted free, merely because a firm in Western Australia was not able to get a quotation for 1,000 Nash bodies which it had no prospect of selling. I cannot accept the request.

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