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Thursday, 25 September 1958


Mr DUTHIE (Wilmot) .- I wish to say a few words on this measure. I still feel that the main enterprise that should be, and was intended to be, helped by this tractor bounty in recent years - Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited of Western Australia - is still suffering from disabilities due to the paucity of the bounty and certain other aspects of the bounty. I point out that this bounty was first given for the protection of tractor manufacturers in Australia away back in 1922, although it was given under another name then. The legislation was the Iron and Steel Products Bounties Act, which was designed to encourage the production of Australian tractors without imposing any direct cost or burden on the users, most of whom were farmers. In 1938 the legislation became known as the Tractor Bounty Act, and has since continued under that title.

The Minister said yesterday -

Bounty payments during the years ended 30th June, 1956, 1957 and 1958 were £55,035, £158,303 and £467,088 respectively, and the bounty claimants have been Howard Auto Cultivators Limited-

I had not heard of that group before -

Chamberlain Industries Proprietary Limited and International Harvester Company of Australia Proprietary Limited.

The Minister went on to say -

The first claim from the International Harvester Company concerned production during the year ended 30th June, 1957.

So we are really getting to the stage when the Government should consider what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has been stressing over the last two or three years, which is that tariff protection should be given to this industry rather than continue messing around with a yearly bounty measure which leaves the industry in ignorance of what is going to happen from year to year. The present procedure means that the management of this wonderful Western Australian factory, which deserves every assistance that the Government can give it, does not really know what is going to happen from year to year. That uncertainty means that the industry cannot plan with any confidence any future makes of tractors. I strongly support the Deputy Leader of the Opposition's suggestion to the Government that when the matter comes up for review next year a tariff for the protection of the industry be considered.

The bill we are now considering fails to provide any increase in the bounty on the production of tractors, particularly by Chamberlain Industries. Any tractor of over 70 horse-power which that company builds is not covered by the bounty. The Chamberlain people will get £240 for each tractor they build up to 70 horse-power; but this company has produced a larger make of tractor, of over 70 horse-power, in recent years. Admittedly it produced only 100 of them in the first year. The Tariff Board rejected the company's application for protection in relation to that make of tractor because so few of them had been built. But how can the company expect to increase its production of large tractors without the promise of bounty support? It is not prepared to lay out extra capital for the building of bigger tractors when it knows that it will not receive bounty assistance in respect of the manufacture of those tractors. We believe that the bounty system should be adjusted so as to provide assistance to companies that want to build larger tractors.

The next thing I want to mention is that no attempt is made in the bill to give tariff protection to this courageous Australian industry, which is at present employing about 800 men in Western Australia.


Mr Osborne - Do you suggest that that should be done before the Tariff Board's report is issued?


Mr DUTHIE - No. I mention it now because we will not have a chance to raise this point until next year. In the meantime the board's report will no doubt be issued.


Mr Osborne - You are not suggesting that the bounty should be increased before the report is received?


Mr DUTHIE - No. I am just saying that we will not have a chance to debate the report until next year, and certain things may happen in the meantime. It is good that you should know our policy on this particular matter. The Tariff Board's report, unfortunately, is not before us during the debate on this bill, so we are in a field of uncertainty, as it were. However, that is the view of the Opposition on the matter.

I should like to say in conclusion that the Chamberlain company in Western Australia is one of the finest manufacturers that we have in Australia. It had a terrifically difficult time in its early days in competition with the great international combines. We on this side of the House condemn the growth, throughout the world, of cartelism and the growth of combines whose tentacles already are firmly gripping Australia. We feel that an industry which is almost 100 per cent. Australian - this particular industry imports English engines for the bigger make of tractors that it is now building, but it is more than 90 per cent. Australian - should get all the encouragement possible.


Mr Luchetti - Especially with our international trade position as it is.


Mr DUTHIE - Yes, indeed! We are exporting tractors to Pakistan, India and Ceylon under the Colombo Plan. Our own Australian industry should have protection beyond that given to these cartels and combines that have their tentacles in Australia. The International Harvester Company of Australia Proprietary Limited shared in this bounty last year. That is fantastic. One would never think that a great industry like this would need a bounty. This bounty is meant to enencourage the development of struggling Australian industries. It will be realized from the very name of the International Harvester company that it is an international combine.' It has done a great job for the farming industry. My father was wheat farming for 30 years in Victoria and I was with him and we know the variety of production of this great company. But we did not anticipate that this big company would ever be given a bounty.

The quality of Chamberlain tractors is indicated by the fact that their sales are extending throughout Australia. There is a good market in Queensland for these tractors, of which there are four different types. In Tasmania, we are already witnessing the great advantages of the technical skill of the Chamberlain people. Their tractor has been recommended to the Tasmanian farmer by the Tasmanian Farmers Federation, which has 8,000 members. It is the only tractor that they have recommended to farmers in Tasmania. It is a great credit to the Chamberlain organization that its Australian product is gaining ground so fast among the primary producers. On this side of the House we are 100 per cent, behind them as an Australian industry as opposed to an international combine such as the International Harvester company which, with the help that it receives from overseas, should be able to stand firmly on its own feet.







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