Why Dick Smith Electronics imported and why Dick Smith supports Aussie farmers, 2018

Statement by Dick Smith:

Many people know that I have always supported Aussie farmers.  I believe that countries should do what they are good at – the Swiss make the best watches, Asia make the best electronics and Australia grows the best food.

“In 1989 I was asked by the Federal Government to be part of a television campaign promoting Australian Made, which my friend John Singleton (Singo) was working on, with the then Prime Minister Bob Hawke.

Watch 30 second ad below:

The ad makes it very clear that we should never accept mediocrity: If Australian made is as good as the imported, we go for it every time.”

In relation to Dick Smith Electronics. Initially the business sold Australian made car radios, two-way radios, electronic components, as well as manufacturing selective calling equipment.

On 18 July 1973, when I was 29 years of age (and five years after I started my business), the Whitlam Government without any prior notice, reduced the protective tariff duty on electronics. Within months, many of my local suppliers started closing down and it wasn’t long before the huge manufacturing companies such as AWA and STC stopped manufacturing completely, and started importing.

At first I thought I would have to close Dick Smith Electronics, but fortunately a good friend of mine – Peter Shalley who had a small business in York Street Sydney, took me to Hong Kong and Japan where he showed me how to import.

When I look back I believe that had Whitlam not reduced the duty, I could have continued manufacturing and buying from Aussie manufacturers, and would have been financially better off. Australia made everything in those days from TV tubes to transistors, and both Gary Johnston (who owns JAYCAR and originally worked with me at Dick Smith Electronics), and I recall these as great days. Neither of us have ever been totally convinced that the Whitlam Government changes were the way to go.

PS. I sometimes read the most ridiculous claims in the media, such as: “Dick Smith is a hypocrite for supporting Australian farmers because he imported electronics from Japan, forcing AWA to close.”

As explained above, the actual story is quite different. A young, enthusiastic businessman with a tiny electronics business had no effect on the giant, publicly listed AWA.”