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Wednesday, 8 May 1957

Mr BARNARD (BASS, TASMANIA) - Will the Minister for Trade inform the House about the issue of import licences, since the partial easing of restrictions, in order to allow millions of feet of Japanese plywood to be imported into Australia? Is he aware that the Australian saw-milling industry has been encouraged to increase its output in order to meet the demand of the building industry, and that it is able to supply all the requirements of the reduced building programme? The report of the Tariff Board for 1955 shows that the capacity of the machinery installed in plywood factories in Australia exceeds current consumption by not less than 100,000,000 square feet. If the Minister is aware of these factors, does he agree that the importation of plywood from other countries while the present chaotic state of the timber industry continues will aggravate the position? In any event, if restrictions on imports of plywood are to be eased regardless of the consequences, should not preference be given to CommonwealthNew Guinea Timbers Limited at Bulolo, an enterprise in which the Government has a substantial interest?

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