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Wednesday, 8 December 1965

Mr Hayden n asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -

1.   Is he able to say whether the Queensland Government has undertaken a retrenchment of forestry workers which has already affected over 200 employees?

2.   If so, is it a fact that this action was necessitated because of a shortage of funds and is there little likelihood of the dismissed employees being re-engaged unless extra funds become available?

3.   Have these dismissals in a number of instances resulted in staffs being reduced below what is regarded as the minimum level necessary to maintain plantations, apart from carrying out forestry expansion policies?

4.   Is it a fact that this retrenchment has occurred at a time when Australia should be engaged in stepping up its softwood planting programme if it is to have any hope of adequately supplying its own future needs?

5.   Will he consider taking steps to grant special assistance to Queensland in order to avoid any harmful restriction of its forestry programme and to ensure that the employment of forestry workers in that State is not jeopardised?

Mr Fairbairn - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows - 1, 2 and 3. I do understand that the Queensland Government has undertaken a retrenchment of about this number of forestry employees. As this is essentially a State Government responsibility it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the reasons or precise results of this decision. 4 and 5. The Australian Forestry Council has recommended that the softwood planting programme be stepped up as early as possible to 75,000 acres per annum. This recommendation and its financial implications are at present under active consideration by the Commonwealth and State Governments.

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