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Thursday, 28 March 1968

Mr McEWEN (MURRAY, VICTORIA) (Deputy Prime Minister) - I have no knowledge of the incident to which the honourable member refers. I know of the existence of this company, of which the honourable member has spoken to me on a number of occasions. He has sought to have the benefit of Government policies for this company, and I think this has happened. I believe it is a good decentralised industry with, to the best of my knowledge, a good reputation. If the industry has lost some orders for parts this may have arisen from a situation in which there is quite intense competition within Australia at the present time for a certain sector of the motor market, namely the smaller cars sector. Not only is there quite intense competition from Japan, as I have already mentioned; there is also a measure of competition from Europe, and there are five Australian companies producing and competing for the market. This has produced a difficult marketing situation in which I think some units of the industry have not been able to live up to their expectations. I have told the House before that my Department has been in contact with the automobile manufacturing industry in Australia over a period. I now inform the House that a conference will be proceeding today at the highest level between officers of the Department of Trade and Industry and very senior representatives of the automobile industry to sort out where the problems lie. I will be joining in that conference.

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