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Thursday, 1 September 1921

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) . - I wish to protest against any increase in the duty in the intermediate column on chassis unassembled. I do so for the reason that we are not making chassis here, and that if we bring in the parts unassembled a lot of employment is provided in putting them together. Another reason why I oppose the request is that, in this vast, almost empty, country of magnificent distances, it should be our object to make means of transport as cheap as possible. How are we to induce people to live in the back-blocks unless we give them reasonable means of transport? In America, practically every farmer has a car ; but here we pile duties on almost everything the farmer uses, and so increase the cost of his requirements. No good purpose will be served by increasing these duties. On the contrary, by doing so, we shall penalize those who are helping to develop our empty spaces. No one is anxious to cheapen the price of motor cars to the rieh, who can afford to keep several for use on our good city roads. My plea is for those who have to use this means of transport in order to earn a living. Doctors, for instance, must have motor cars, and practically every agent in a country town needs one in order that he may make sales and assist in developing the country. To say that people out-back should be thus penalized is utterly wrong.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Do the farmers out-back purchase motor cars?

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - We should put motor cars within their reach. I invite honorable senators to compare the price of a Ford car in America and Canada, where practically every farmer has a car, with the prices prevailing here.

Senator Duncan - These duties are not responsible for the difference.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - They help to build up the increased cost. Why should we continually harass the people out-back who must have motor transport, not only for their produce, but to enable the sick and the injured to receive prompt medical assistance? I agree that luxurious motor bodies should be highly taxed. We are building motor bodies in Australia, and it is our duty to protect that industry,. But this sub-item relates to unassembled chassis, which we do not make here. I should be inclined to view more favorably a proposition of this kind if it related to assembled parts; but I am strongly opposed to this request for additional taxation in respect of unassembled parts that are not made here, but the introduction of which provides more employment for our own people.

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