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Tuesday, 29 November 1938

Mr GEORGE LAWSON (BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND) . - On the 24th October, the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) stated that since New Zealand had placed an embargo upon the exportation of white pine, the dairying industry of New South Wales had experienced great difficulty in obtaining supplies of timber for butter boxes. I have received information, not only from the timber interests, but also from Mr. Pease, Minister for Lands in Queensland, that that statement is not in accordance with fact. The Queensland Timber Export Association, writing to me on this subject, said -

In the last season New South Wales exported approximately 503,000 boxes of butter, and on the premise that each box requires- 3 ft. 0 in. of timber, approximately 2,000,000 super, feet of timber would be utilized for the season -

That is for the season in New South Wales -

There are numerous saw-milling firms in Queensland who turn out monthly more than 1,030.000 super, feet of timber each, and there are therefore absolutely no grounds for Mr. Anthony's question.

The Queensland Minister for Lands, Mr. Pease, said -

Queensland could supply Australia's requirements in hoop and kauri pine for butter box manufacture for all time.

It appears that there is an agitation in the dairying industry in New South Wales for permission to import timber from the United States of America. Following the statement made by the honorable member for Richmond the whole question was referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report. I trust that when the report is received by the Minister he will go very carefully into it in order to ascertain the correctness or otherwise of the figures I have cited. I am perfectly satisfied that they are absolutely correct. I say very definitely that there is sufficient suitable hoop and kauri pine in Queensland to supply the whole of the requirements of the dairying industry in Queensland and New South Wales for many years to come. I trust that the Minister will do everything possible to protect the Queensland timber industry against timber imported from the other side of the world.

A very grave anomaly exists in the application of certain quarantine and inspection regulations by the Department of Trade and Customs. Several customs agents and importing firms in my electorate have complained to me about the pinpricking regulations that cause them not only a waste of time, but also, in the final analysis, quite a lot of unnecessary expense. It appears that all articles of timber or woodwork are subjected to quarantine inspection. A case hasbeen brought to my notice in which a firm imported a large case of agricultural machinery, consisting wholly of iron with the exception of one wooden handle or lever. Before the customs agent was able to secure the release of the case from the quarantine authorities it had to be opened and the one hardwood handle inspected. Fortunately, that regulation has now been repealed. I have here a long list of articles which must be submitted to the quarantine authorities before being released to the customs agents. In many instances these agents have to wait several days before they can obtain articles for the consignees. Under the quarantine regulations processed handles for various implements and tools, such as chisels, axes, digging forks, and lawn mowers, have to be submitted for inspection, whilst camphor wood chests, cigar boxes, coat hangers, cotton reels and handles for brushes all of which are made of softwoods, and are more likely to be affected by borers than are hardwoods, are not subject to such inspection. I hope that the Minister for Trade and Customs will ascertain whether it is really necessary to enforce this irksome regulation. It seems ridiculous that softwoods can come in without inspectionwhile tested hardwoods must be inspected.

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