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Tuesday, 18 September 1973
Page: 1131

Mr KERIN (MACARTHUR, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the attention of the Minister for the Capita] Territory been drawn to any complaints received concerning the availability of cars belonging to the Commonwealth car pool in Canberra? Is there any cause for concern about the condition in which the cars are received from the manufacturers and the system whereby the cars are serviced by agents of the manufacturers during the initial period after their receipt by the Australian Government? In the interest of consumers generally, will the Minister compile a list of defects, on delivery and in the first 6 months, of all vehicles, by makes, purchased for the pool?

Mr ENDERBY - I was made aware of one complaint this morning. It concerns a Commonwealth car, No. 31, which became part of the Commonwealth fleet only about four or five months ago. This was a brand new Galaxy LTD. For most of that period of four or five months it has been off the road because of one defect or another and because of other difficulties that have flowed through from the manufacturers and their agents in the servicing of the fleet. At times this vehicle has had to be cannibalised to provide spare parts for other Commonwealth vehicles. Surely this is a scandalous situation. My attention was drawn to it by a particular driver. When he took delivery of the car he made his usual inspection and found that a windscreen wiper was missing. What sort of quality control is this? It is consistent with the remarks I heard attributed to the Minister for Transport this morning and it is linked up with some of the questions on consumer protection with which the Minister for Science is concerned.

Notwithstanding that a windscreen wiper was missing from a brand new car which retails for more than $8,000, the car has been virtually - largely - off the road for four or five months and has been used as a source of spare parts for other vehicles because spare parts cannot be obtained pursuant to the agreement. This was a contract entered into under the previous Administration. I do not know what selection process was followed or what guarantees were accepted from the manaufacturer but this matter is going to be the subject of further investigation. If that is the sort of quality control that we are to get on brand new vehicles which retail for more than $8,000 on the Australian market, when the time comes for renewing that fleet, if I have anything to say about it the competitors of the Ford Motor Company will be considered.

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