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Tuesday, 19 December 1911

Senator VARDON (South Australia) . - Is it not possible to place an ad valorem duty upon the complete car? The whole trouble which has been experienced with those who import motor cars is due tothe fact that a certain duty is levied upon the bodies of the cars, and another duty upon the chassis. For instance, a car may be invoiced at .£350, the body at ,£,300, and the chassis at £50. When it reaches Australia, the Customs officials may value the body at ^280 and the chassis at £l°. Thus there is continual friction. It has been suggested that the Government might take a certain number of cars - say, 500 of them - total the duty payable upon them, and strike an average duty, which should be the duty charged upon all cars. The importers do not wish to avoid the payment of duty - they are only anxious to avoid disputes.

Senator Givens - Some of them have been very successful in avoiding the payment of duty.

Senator VARDON - The gentleman who spoke to me about this matter has no sympathy with those who defraud the revenue. He is an honest man,, and is only anxious to do an honest thing. The plan which I have outlined would obviate a lot of disputes, and might prevent an attempt being made to swindle the Customs by undervaluing the chassis and overvaluing the bodies of cars. If the Government are prepared to consider my suggestion, we might well allow the item to pass with a view to recommitting it at a later stage.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [10.33].- I trust that the Government will not adopt the suggestion which has been made by Senator Vardon. A better plan would be to charge a fixed duty upon motor cars, as is proposed in the Bill, and to deal with the chassis and tyres separately. It is very evident that these parts can be readily distinguished one from the other, and consequently there ought to be no difficulty in ascertaining their relative values. The only question which arises in my mind is as to whether it is wise to adopt a fixed duty of £24.10s. under the General Tariff, and of £21 under the Tariff for the United Kingdom, as an alternative to the ad valorem duties.

Senator McGregor - They are not an alternative to those duties. They run with them.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - The duty upon the ordinary car is , £24 ios., or an ad valorem rate of 35 per cent., whichever returns the higher duty. In the case of a very small car, the importer will be charged£24 ios., irrespective of its value. The individual who can afford to import a large and very powerful car will not be required to pay anything like the same proportion of duty as the person who imports a cheap run-about, or lorry, or waggon. To my mind, it is a mistake to penalize the smaller man.

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