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Thursday, 16 May 1968

Mr DALY (Grayndler) (12:22 PM) Mr Deputy Speaker,I do not wish to detain the House very long at this late hour. But I have a matter of importance that I desire to raise in this Parliament. I wish to bring to the attention of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) and the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) the fact that the Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co. of Japan is proposing to establish a manufacturing operation in Australia. This company manufactures under the well known trade mark 'National' and is likely to be followed by other Japanese companies that cannot afford to see Matsushita make a move into Australia unless they match it. The whole situation is causing concern to a number of Australian industries, particularly the electrical industries, in view of the intense competition due to over-capacity which currently exists in the radio, television and appliance industries. Of equal concern is the fact that it would appear that the Matsushita operation is to have a number of Japanese executives controlling it, together with other personnel.

The first indication of this came from Mingays Electrical Weekly* of 10th May 1968. This publication had this to say:

Matsushita Electrical Industrial Co. of Japan executives have just completed an Australian marketing survey to determine which of the company's products should be produced here.

The study by the advanced- group of executives follows Matsushita purchase of the Singer factory premises at Penrith, NSW, earlier this year and the setting up of an Australian subsidiary, Matsushita Electric Co. (Aust.) Pty Ltd under the directorship of Morri Kaneko and Martin Van Koesveld

When interviewed earlier this week, acting managing director of Haco Distributing Agencies Hans Oostergo said 'Matsushita has long planned to become part of the Australian scene and has now elected to establish an assembly plant here'.

The article went on to say that certain executives were in Australia and enumerated the products that would be made.

I desire to ask a few questions of the Minister for Trade and Industry and the Minister for Immigration on this matter. Firstly: Are the Ministers aware that this company is to establish manufacturing operations in Australia in the radio, television and appliance field? Further: Are the Ministers aware that already there is considerable over-capacity in this industry and that the Japanese plan that the top executives of the company, including the managing director, the secretary/ accountant and the general assistant will be Japanese nationals while other Japanese nationals may well take senior positions? I ask: Do the Ministers consider in the light of this that there is a likelihood that the company will extend the request for Japanese personnel very extensively and that Australians may well be displaced from employment in this industry and probably not have proper representation in this company? I should like to ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) whether he knows these things.

I now desire to direct a question to the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden). What will be the attitude of the immigration authorities concerning the employment of Japanese nationals on a large scale in an executive capacity, presumably on a permanent basis, and in other capacities in this country? Let me point out firstly that in 1966, in this Parliament, the then Minister for Immigration brought down certain legislation relating to the employment of non-European nationals. I have omitted to bring the document with me, but it was expressly stated at that time - and it was because of this that the Labor Party supported the measure - that permits to employ non-Europeans in industry would be granted only on the understanding that they took positions for which Australians were not available. I am sorry that I have not the relevant document before me, but the Government did give an assurance at that time that under no circumstances would Australian personnel be displaced and that no permits would be granted for the permanent settlement here of non-Europeans to work in the industry concerned if labour of the required type was already available in this country. That assurance was given with respect to the filling of executive positions and any other vacancies that there might bc.

The companies already engaged in this industry in Australia which employ many Australians are naturally somewhat concerned about the impact of this new proposed industry on their operations. I remind honourable members of the occasion recently, when a number of Japanese employees were brought to Australia to work on a dredging project at Port Hedland in Western Australia on the understanding that they were to be employed only for such time as it took them to teach Australians who might be available how to do the work. I understand that this obligation was not honoured with the result that there was industrial trouble, Australians were displaced from employment and there was a considerable amount of discontent and friction between Australians and Japanese.

I should like to know firstly just what is the attitude of the Minister for Trade and Industry with respect to this matter and, secondly, I should like the Minister for Immigration to- outline to the Parliament the Government's attitude towards it. I have no reason to doubt that the Government will endeavour to give effect to the arrangement that was made with the approval of both sides of the Parliament, but at the same time I can see that if this sort of thing grows, certain dangers could confront us.

I point out with all due respect to the Japanese that the Minister for Trade and Industry was quite outspoken recently when he announced that there had been a colossal putover by the Japanese in connection with the importation of Japanese motor vehicles into this country. The Japanese are very progressive. They are very anxious to establish industries, or to buy out industries already established and to increase their personnel. To say the least, they are very cheeky in some of the requests they make with respect to our immigration laws. The Japanese nation has been one of the nations most consistently opposed to our established immigration policy from a long time back.

It was suggested to me in correspondence that had been brought to me that a demand might be made, supported by an attempt at duress, to be allowed to establish an industry in this country and to employ Japanese nationals in that industry. The establishment of such an industry and the employment of Japanese nationals in it could be detrimental to the continued operations of industries already established here and could lead to the displacement of Australians from employment.

Evidently this new company is to be granted the permission it seeks. I hope that it will not lead to trouble similar to that experienced in connection with the Port Hedland scheme. I do hope too that we can get some assurance that, before this industry is established here, the Government will take into consideration the present over-production of Australian industries, which can easily be verified from inquiries in trade circles here, and the other aspects that I have mentioned tonight.

I note that the Minister for Immigration is now in the chamber. I have no reason to doubt that the safeguards that have been required will be honoured. I rise tonight to warn the Parliament of what might happen in connection with this important industry and of the problems that could arise. I hope the two Ministers concerned will let me have their views on these matters.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 12.30a.m. (Friday) until Tuesday 28 May, at 2.30 p.m.

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