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Tuesday, 4 May 1971

Senator COTTON - Senator Bull has asked me the following question:

I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, by stating that it is reported that the Minister for Customs and Excise has said that because of the cancellation of the by-law permitting duty free entry of a wide range of imported truck parts those parts will be subject to a duty rate ranging from 271/2 per cent to 35 per cent. My question is: Does the Minister agree with those who claim that this increased protection will mean a higher manufacturing cost for commercial vehicles and, if so, place a further cost burden on our hard-pressed rural industries and industry generally? Did the Minister for Trade and Industry give an assurance in 1965 that the effects of this by-law would be referred to the Tariff Board in 5 years time? Will the Minister assure the Senate that the Tariff Board will be instructed to review the effects of these newly opened duties when they come into operation on 1 October?

The Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied me with the following information:

1.   The effect of the cancellation of the by-law on costs of finished commercial vehicles has yet to be seen. However the following extracts from the Tariff Board Report on Commercial Vehicles in 1965 are relevant. . . The performance of at least one manufacturer suggests that a significantly higher local content may not mean appreciably higher costs of commercial vehicle production where large volumes of production are concerned.' . . When the problem is examined in more detail at a later date the Board would expect to see that the local contents of commercial vehicles as normally sold by vehicle builders have been raised to high levels.'

The decision to revise the by-laws in this area was taken after detailed examination by the Department of Customs and Excise, and after consultation with both the component manufacturers and the users of those components. This action conforms with the expressed intention of the Tariff Board and has been endorsed by the Government.

2.   The Tariff Board's suggestion for a review in about five years' in its 1965 report related to all motor vehicles and components. Such a review would represent a major inquiry.

The Government has decided there will be a progressive review of the Tariff. The questions of when this review will start and the order in which industries will be referred to the Tariff Board in this review are matters which are shortly to be considered by the Cabinet.

One of the matters to be taken into account is the likely workload these review references will place on the TariffBoard in addition to normal references. The decision on the timing of a reference on motor vehicles and components will have to be taken in this context.

In relation to commercial vehicles there will be a separate reference to the Tariff Board.

For the reasons given earlier it is impossible to state when this will be sent but it appears unlikely that a reference for the review of these tariffs would be delayed beyond 1971.

Senator Sir KENNETHANDERSONOn 6th April 1971 Senator Turnbull asked me the following question without notice:

Can the Minister now obtain for me the answers to the following three questions? Firstly, what is the date of the first request from foreign governments for DC3 aircraft or the first date on which the Department of Foreign Affairs suggested to foreign buyers that they might take DC3 aircraft? Secondly, what is the date of the first intimation from Jetair Australia Limited to the Government that it had DC3 for sale, or the date on which a Government department first approached Jetair Australia Limited for the purchase of these planes? Thirdly, on what date did Jetair Australia Limited cease its passenger services? Can the Minister also inform me the losses sustained by Jetair Australia Limited on those services?

I said that of the 3 questions, 2 come within the administration of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and one within the administration of the Minister for Air. The Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following 2 answers:

(1)   The substance of the first question was answered in Question on Notice No. 926in reply to a query by Senator Keeffe. To recapitulate, the aid programme is developed as the result of continuing consultations between Australian diplomatic missions and the governments to which they are accredited. In particular, these consultations are related to Australian capacity to supply some of a range of many items which a country might require. It was a result of this kind of discussion that the Department, in 1969, became aware of the desire of a number of countries to build up their fleets of DC3 aircraft As it became possible to fund the purchase of available aircraft, the consultations were finalised with Nepal (two aircraft), Laos (three aircraft) and the Khmer Republic (six aircraft). The acceptance of Australian offers were received by the respective diplomatic missions as follows -


(2)   The Department of Foreign Affairs first became aware of the fact thatJetair Australia Limited had aircraft for disposal following an advertisement placed by Jetair in The Australian newspaper on5th December 1970, offering six DC3 aircraft for sale. The aircraft were then inspected on 17th and 18th December 1970.

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