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Thursday, 21 September 1972
Page: 1853

Mr Grassby asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

(1)   Have some major farm machinery manufacturers recently increased their prices.

(2)   If so, is the reason for the increases the upward movement in the price of steel.

(3)   Is the figure for the rise in the price of steel used in fabrication and farm machinery manufacture close to 10 per cent.

(4)   Will he, even at this late stage, intervene to investigate the whole ramifications of the increased steel prices announced by the Broken Hill Pry Co. Ltd and take steps to prevent a further cost escalation particularly in the still depressed rural sector.

Mr Snedden (BRUCE, VICTORIA) (Treasurer) - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Yes. During the first quarter of 1972, prices of all farm machinery, as measured by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics index, rose by 1.9 per cent. I am advised, however, that an analysis by the Bureau of the data used to construct the index indicates that only a minority of items of farm machinery increased in price, and most large increases which did occur were associated with changes in the type or model of machinery. For those price changes not directly associated with major change in the nature or quality of machinery, the price movement was generally around 1 per cent during the quarter.

(2)   I am not aware of the specific factors which caused such individual price increases as did occur. No doubt increases in costs for raw materials (such as steel) and for labour may have been relevant in the pricing decisions taken.

(3)   I am advised that the rise in February 1972 in the basis of BHP light structural shapes of thetypes used in agricultural machinery production was about 8.5 per cent.

(4)   The BHP steel price rise has been fully discussed in the Parliament and elsewhere, and I see no purpose in further canvassing the issue.

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