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Thursday, 3 December 1936


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) . - The duty of 2½d. per lb. proposed by the Government on Canadian car chassis averages only½d. per lb. more than the previousduty which was equivalent to 2d. per lb. More cars enter Australia from Canada than from the United States of America, and if the fixed duty be applied only to the United States of America chassis, the object of the fixed duties, which is to make effective the preference given to the United Kingdom, will not be achieved. The increased duty represents only 1 per cent. of the selling price of the car to users, and consequently from their point of view, the ultimate effect is not material. Investments by Canadian firms in Australia will not be affected by the Government's proposals should those firms fit in with the Government's scheme and establish factories in Australia. That additional preference is required by the United Kingdom against Canada is shown by the following figures which indicate the extent to which Canadian chassis have entered the Australian market : -

 

There has been a falling off of imports of chassis from the United Kingdom from 46 per cent. to 19 per cent. during the last four years, whilst imports of Canadian chassis have risen from 26 per cent. to 41 per cent. during that period. Under the proposed duty, Canada has a preference of 3d. per lb. over the United States of America, whereas the United Kingdom has a preference of only 2½d. over Canada. Any alteration of the proposed Canadian rate would throw the Government's scheme out of balance. When a long-range view is taken, it will be seen that the Government's scheme is to divert trade, not to the United Kingdom, but to Australian manufacturers.

As to the point raised by Senator Grant, the position is that, at times, a decision has to be made as to whether a chassis is that of a truck or a car. Some discretionary power must be vested in the Minister, who will be guided by his expert officers. Difficulty has arisen on occasions in the administration of the duties, and in order to facilitate the administration of the item it is advisable to embody the words referred to in the schedule.







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