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Wednesday, 19 November 1986
Page: 2508

Senator TOWNLEY(5.16) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

At the outset I would like to say that over a great deal of time since I have been in the Senate I have taken an interest in forestry matters. I am a member of the Standing Committee on Science, Technology and the Environment. Many years ago we had an inquiry into woodchipping around this country. We suggested standards for woodchipping companies. We have kept a watching brief on woodchipping in different States since that time. We were due to look at the situation once more in Eden, New South Wales, on 1 December but I now find that the Senate will sit on that day. That visit will have to be put off for a little longer. The forest industry is very important. It is worth about $3 billion annually to Australia, which is more than wheat or wool.

Senator Tate —You have been reading the advertisements.

Senator TOWNLEY —I certainly have. I have also been reading the letters in the Hobart Mercury over the last weeks. In the last couple of days, particularly, there have been quite a number that show just how interested a great number of people in Tasmania are in this very important matter. It is good to see that forest industries are starting to tell people just how important to the nation are these industries.

Senator Sanders —They will not be in 10 years. You will have all the trees cut down.

Senator TOWNLEY —I think that the honourable senator will speak in a moment. Why does he not wait for his turn? If one throws rocks at people one gets a few squeals, or, as my father used to say, if one throws rocks at dogs a few of them will yelp. I will not say that about anyone here but occasionally we hear many yelps and they remind me of what my father said. Many small communities throughout Tasmania basically live upon the growth of trees in forests. I am not for a moment saying that there should be an all out attack on the forests. Over the past few years there has been a gradual recognition that forests must be properly managed and looked at from an environmental impact point of view.

There is also recognition from a lot of people that just like wheat, trees are a crop to be harvested. If one does not harvest them they die and they are of no value to anyone once that happens. The difference between wheat and trees is that trees take much longer to grow. Eucalypts take up to 80 years to grow on a cycle. The softwoods grow much more quickly. I am pleased to note in this report that the plantation of hardwoods, particularly in Tasmania, is on the increase. Hardwood plantations in Tasmania increased by approximately 2,800 hectares during 1984-85 and that was nearly all of Australia's plantation increase. In one part of the report the Council notes concern about the possible deterioration of domestic hardwood timber supplies and it is important that the people of Australia keep their eyes on this. I am pleased to see that the increase is occurring in Tasmania.