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Thursday, 14 May 1936

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) . - The honorable senator need not fear competition from Japan or any other foreign country, in connexion with perambulators and go-carts. The industry is well established in Australia, and local manufacturers supply practically the whole of the requirements. The importations from countries other than the United Kingdom in the years 1930-31 to 1934-35 inclusive, were only £45, £2, £18, £6, and £9 respectively. Total importations have been exceedingly small. The Tariff Board reports that the 1933 rates have proved prohibitive, and considers that the duties now proposed afford adequate protection to the local industry. A natural protection against the importedproduct is provided by the heavy overseas freight on this class of goods, owing to their bulky nature. Wheels have been produced locally for about fourteen years, and the industry is well established. The board advises that it can see no reason why the industry should be protected by a duty in excess of that considered adequate for metal manufacturers generally, and is of opinion that the rates proposed are adequate to protect the efficient maker. The rates in the proposed item have been arranged so as to facilitate trade treaty negotiations.

Item agreed to.

Item 359-

By omitting the whole of sub-item (e) and inserting in its stead the following subitem : - " (e) Parts of bodies enumerated in para graphs (1), (2) and (3) of sub-item (d), viz. : -

(1)   Pressed metal panels, not fabricated beyond trimming of edges -

(a)   For single-seated bodies, per lb:, British, 6d.; per complete set, intermediate, £20; general, £20.

SenatorFOLL (Queensland) [10.20].- It has been represented to me, and I think to most honorable senators, that importers of British cars are experiencing considerable difficulty in securing from Australian body manufacturers bodies for the chassis they import. I understand that one large manufacturer of British cars is months behind in the delivery of orders which have been received from clients in Australia. I should like to know whether the Government has decided to grant a tariff concession on the importation, either of panels or of the completed bodies, in order that importers may have an opportunity to bring their orders up to date. The greatest possible assistance should be given to these importers. I am not one of those who believe that English cars are unsuitable for Australian conditions. I recognize, and so must others, that during the war period and the reconstruction period which followed it, American interests obtained a big start over British interests in the advertising, sale, and servicing of cars imported from their country. It is now generally admitted that British cars are eminently suitable for Australian conditions. Their importation would do no injury to any Australian industry, but, on the contrary, would increase the volume of work provided by associated and kindred industries.

Senator Hardy - Is the honorable senator advocating their importation as a complete unit?

SenatorFOLL. - If the local body builders are so deluged with orders for bodies for foreign cars that they are unable to fulfil orders given by the importers of British cars. I should be quite willing to permit the importation of the complete unit until arrears were overtaken. As Senator Guthrie has pointed out, when it was found that the local manufacturers of galvanized iron were unable to fulfil the orders they had received, corrugated iron was admitted under by-law until the pressure had eased. To ask that importers of British cars should be placed in a similar position, is not unreasonable. The importation of British cars should not be hampered because of the position in which the Australian body-building industry finds itself in relation to orders. I am not criticizing in any way the work of the local body builders. I believe that it is equal to what is produced in any other part of the world, but the representative of probably the largest manufacturer of British cars, has informed me that he is months in arrears with orders, and that, in consequence his business is being very adversely affected. The position is so serious that I cannot understand why no protest has been made to the Government by the British High Commissioner. To impede the placing on the road of thousands of pounds worth of British vehicles must be to do more harm to their manufacturers than the imposition of a duty on cement would do to the United Kingdom exporters of that commodity.

Senator Collings - The British High Commissioner will make his protest now.

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