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Tuesday, 2 May 1961

Mr Cleaver r asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -

1.   Is his department giving specific attention to that portion of the recent Tariff Board report on the timber industry which recognized the disability in respect of transport costs which affects the Western Australian section of the industry?

2.   To permit the suppliers of timber in Western Australia to compete on equal terms for the interstate demand for timber, will the Government sympathetically seek a suitable formula for subsidy assistance to meet the freight costs involved?

Mr McEwen - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

The question of freight on Western Australian timber and the possibility of a freight subsidy to assist the Western Australian industry was investigated by an interdepartmental committee in 1958. The committee's investigation followed the Tariff Board's report dated 22nd April, 1958, which drew attention to the question. The committee reported that a freight subsidy was not justified, for two main reasons:

(1)   A Commonwealth subsidy on Western Australian timber shipments would discriminate against timber industries in other States.

(2)   It would be difficult to justify a subsidy limited to timber and not extended to other products shipped interstate.

The Government accepted the committee's findings. A careful re-examination of the whole matter in the light of the Tariff Board's latest report on the industry has not shown that there are any new factors in the situation that would warrant a change in the Government's earlier decision.

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