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Wednesday, 19 November 1986
Page: 2510


Senator ARCHER(5.30) —I, too, would like to speak to the report of the Australian Forestry Council. It is very difficult to speak about a report such as this in a rational manner when we have heard an outburst such as that which Senator Sanders produced. In his usual way, I do not think that he said one thing that was even remotely accurate. He regularly states that the timber people have no interest in the future or in matters such as that. That is absolutely crazy, and we all know it is, but it is typical of what we can expect from him. What we must remember is that, if it were not for the people who are looking after the forests, there would probably be no forests. I would rather leave them in the hands of the professionals than in the hands of a group of amateurs who honestly do not care about employment opportunities, the livelihood of people, and so many other things.

The report of the Forestry Council demonstrates what a group of professionals they are. They have very high professional standards. Their standards have improved considerably in the last few years through their own desire to have better conservation and a better operation. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, both in the Division of Forest Research and the Division of Wood Research, has done first class work. It has done outstanding work on a product it calls scrimber. The work the Division of Forest Research has done on improvement of species, pests, and on silviculture generally, is very good and quite outstanding.

Private forestry is increasing in most of the States. Of course, there are problems in Australia at present. A traditional source of timber for over 100 years has been North America, but the oregon in North America has been entirely cut out on the first round and the sources of supply will now be considerably less. The Asian hardwood cycle is also likely to dry up in the next few years as much of those areas are cut out on the first round. It means that we will get timber only from our own forests or from New Zealand.

One of the real problems with which the industry is left is the question of National Estate listings. Page 35 of the report states:

Council AGREED that the Chairman should inform the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment of its concern over the apparent use of National Estate listings under the Australian Heritage Commission Act 1975 by some parties seeking to prevent logging in production forest areas. Council NOTED that in so doing, reliance was being placed on public misconception that National Estate listing was equivalent to national park status.

Of course, any red herring will do if one is not fussy about the truth. That is the sort of act with which we have had to contend.

In my State, silviculture practices are very good. The Forest Practices Act is the best harvesting Act in Australia. It provides that there is to be a forest practices code and all harvesting must be done in accordance with the code. It has certainly made a great difference and an improvement. Softwood plantings now total 60,800 hectares and hardwood plantings total 12,000 hectares. These plantings are very significant. There are now more trees growing than are actually being harvested.

We need to do more to try to encourage our forestry industry and what flows from it. The world will be looking for more and more timber of the types that we grow well. Provided that we concentrate on growing some of our native timbers rather than exotic timbers, I am sure we will be able to deliver a considerable amount of the world's wood supplies.