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Wednesday, 26 May 1915

Mr J H CATTS (Cook) .- I must apologize for having to trespass upon the patience of honorable members, but I desire to refer to a matter of some importance and urgency connected with my electorate. The Postal Department recently called for tenders for forty-two motor cycles for New South Wale9, and six for Victoria. The tenders closed on the 6th and 18th inst. respectively. There is a factory in my electorate which is engaged in manufacturing motor cycles of a very excellent quality. These machines are being made almost in their entirety at Alexandria. Until recently I was not aware of the fact that motor engines could be made in Australia; but, as a matter of fact, they are being made by this factory from start to finish. The firm has a foundry in Melbourne. Only the carburetter, the hub, the magnetotubing, and one or two minor accessories, are imported.

Mr Tudor - What about the spokes?

Mr J H CATTS - The spokes are imported in wire lengths, and, of course, the tubing cannot be manufactured in Australia. But there is comparatively little in the whole make-up of the motor cycle which is imported. It is an article of genuine manufacture.

The price quoted for a 4-horse-power twin cylinder machine is £90, and the selling price of a 3½-horse-power single cylinder Douglas machine is £93 10s. This is an English machine which is very popular here, and which has been taken as the pattern of the Australian machine. It may be possible to obtain a cheaper article, but for the standard and quality it is a cheap machine. There are better guarantees with the local than with the imported article, for the reason that a plentiful supply of duplicate parts is available. I have examined the locallymade article, and as one who has had experience of motor cycles I can say that it is thoroughly efficient.

There is a large firm, which has a very scattered connexion in the back-blocks of New South Wales - I refer to Messrs. Permewan, Wright, and Company - who have been using these machines, and before the tender of this firm is turned, down, I would like the PostmasterGeneral to ask the manager of that company for a report upon them.

I am urging that special attention should be given to this matter. I recognise that if once this machine can be advertised in Australia as being in use by the Commonwealth Government, its reliability will be established. I am confident that a trial of these machines by the Department will be justified. I would point out, too, that the wages paid to the mechanics employed at the Alexandria factory are higher than those paid to artisans employed on the imported article. We ought to encourage the manufacture of this machine for defence purposes. If we ever have to defend ourselves it will be of immense importance for us to have a factory capable of manufacturing these machines for scout work.

It appears that some of the officers in the Department have been using imported motor cycles for so long that they look askance at a local article, and think it cannot be up to the standard of the imported. I have gone into the matter carefully, and I ask the PostmasterGeneral to give special consideration to this firm's tender, and to see that it is not turned down without ample justification.

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