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Friday, 17 July 1931

Mr FORDE (Capricornia) (Minister for Trade and Customs) . - Replying to the points raised by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), one shipment of timber from Russia was landed at Sydney. No invoices for the consignment are yet to hand, and my department has not been able to obtain a satisfactory explanation as to when they will arrive. About eight or nine days ago I was informed that they would be received within a week. The timber has not been offered for sale, so far as my department can ascertain. The agents, the Russo Export Company, have no information upon which they can arrive at the value of the consignment, and, therefore, are unable to place any price upon it. I have instructed the SubCollector of Customs at Sydney not to grant clearance of the consignment before consulting me. If at any time a clearance is granted, a security duty of 10 per cent. per 100 super feet will be demanded, in addition to existing duties. That amounts' practically to prohibition. I assure honorable members that the Government is determined to continue in the future its policy of the past, that of giving adequate protection to the Australian timber industry, and that there is no reason to be apprehensive with regard to timber consignments from Russia. Obviously, the Government cannot act upon hearsay, or on paragraphs that appear in the press. The proper steps are being taken to investigate the conditions under which the timber industry of Russia is being carried on.

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