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Friday, 29 March 1946

Mr BARNARD (Bass) . - I compliment the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) on his published statement that he had agreed to the entry into the Australian Forestry School at Canberra this year of sixteen scholarship students from throughout Australia, lii 1944 I asked in the House how many students had been nominated throughout Australia for attendance at the school. I found that over the period from 1927 to March, 1944, 100 students had passed through the school and had gone back in the main to forestry work in their own States. I find that to-day there are only fourteen lads at the school, and that it is estimated that by 1948 the number will be increased . to 60. Thus, the 'lee-way is being made up by increasing the numbers of entrants to the school. In that way, capable officers can be made available for the encouragement of re-afforestation throughout Australia. However, I question whether the- Commonwealth exercises sufficient active oversight of our forests, and whether it offers sufficient inducement to officers to accept appointment in the Commonwealth Service. Mr. Lane-Poole, the former Commonwealth Inspector-General of Forests, did magnificent wor!: when he was in charge of the Commonwealth Bureau of Forestry for many years. Under his guidance and influence forestry assumed greater importance in this country. However we have made bad mistakes. The old timers evolved the typical Australian way of destroying a forest - ring-barking. That method produced quick and cheap results for grasshungry settlers. At that time governments paid little attention to the preservation of forests. They freely allowed settlers to -select forest land, and, all too frequently, the settler immediately ringbarked the trees thus destroying valuable forests. After ring-barking, scrubbing and clearing the settler finally set fire to the felled timber, and very often thus caused serious outbreaks of fire. After struggling for a number of- years he very often found that he could not maintain himself and his family on the area he had cleared, and abandoned the area which was then allowed to return to its native state. In this process the loss of valuable timber was very great. The Government should give greater attention to this problem. The Commonwealth has taken sufficient interest to establish the Australian Forestry School to which it has appointed officers to co-operate " with the States in the preservation, and development of forests. Having engendered a .measure of forest consciousness in the States, the Commonwealth should now exercise a greater degree of oversight of forests from a Commonwealth point of view. With that end in mind, it should obtain the services of the best experts available, and in association with the Australian Forestry School arrange for such officers Jo act in an advisory capacity to the States. That is not being done now, because we are not offering sufficient inducement to attract the best brains that can be obtained. I have taken a close interest in re-afforestation in Tasmania. It is generally admitted that Tasmania, for its' population, has the greatest timber resources of any State. It is in Tasmania that the chief progress has been made in the development of wood-pulp for newsprint and for stationery. Two aspects of the problem must, always be borne in mind. First, a well-managed forest area will provide steady production, and at the end of fifty years of logging and timber-cutting can still yield the same output of timber per acre. Continuity of production is desirable, particularly because of the capital cost of such necessary amenities as bouses, schools, roads, &c, which have to be provided by the community. All classes of Australian timber are not suitable for those purposes, but stringy bark, which is known in Tasmania as Tasmanian hardwood, is ideal in that respect. Furthermore, forestry can play a great part in the development of Australia. In the past many people have done pretty well out of slaughtering the trees which benevolent, but not the far-seeing, governments bequeathed to them. But, now, the capital required in an area for continuous production adequate for a living is beyond any but the wealthiest. In fact, the largest forestry schemes in the world, and all those of any size in which the aim is sustained yield rather than rapid exploitation, are controlled by State interests. It is in public ownership and development that the future of forestry lie-.. I am pleased to note the awakening interest of the States in respect of forestrycontrol.' That has been mast marked in" Tasmania-, where reserves, including some under the control of private interests, are supervised by State officers. This policy awakens community interest in forests. Re-afforestation is also of great value as a means of providing employment. In assessing bow many jobs forestry can provide, the following figures are a guide. It is estimated that regular profitable employment in direct forestry work can be found for 70 men for every 1.000 ai-res of pine plantation being established, fifteen men for every 1,000 acres of pine plantation already established, three men for every 1,000 "acres of pure hardwood forests, such as, blackbutt or alpine ash, under intensive management, and one man for every 1,000 acres of mixed hardwood forests under intensive management. Thus, by developing reafforestation from a national point of view we shall bequeath a valuable heritage to posterity. The forests of the world have suffered very severely during the last six years not only by destruction in theatres of war, but also in countries 'which had to supply timber for war purposes. Now, we require enormous quantities of timber in order to repair homes and factories that were ravaged by war, and that, will place a tremendous strain on our timber resources. We cannot hope to conserve forests and use the timber to the best advantage unless we give proper attention to them and -develop a greater forest consciousness among the people as a whole. This matter should be of greater interest to the Commonwealth Government than it is, and, therefore, we should do more than we are to attract into the Commonwealth service the best forestry brains.

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