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Tuesday, 19 December 1911

Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) . - So far as it has gone, the discussion has, with the exception of the remarks of Senator Givens, and one or two others, been devoted to the question of whether it will pay the timber merchant, or the city man, to have this timber brought into the country a little more cheaply than at the proposed rate. But we have to realize that Australia has enormous forests to develop. In Queensland, we have 3,500,000 acres of reserves which are specially looked after by the Forestry Department for the sake of developing the timbers. I admit that the supply of timbers to the southern States has been somewhat short, but that has really been owing to the prosperity of Queensland itself, and the great demand which there has been for the timbers. Western Australia is carrying on the same sort of industry. We have not to consider whether the cabinet-making, or some other industry of a secondary nature is going to make the same sort of profit, because we take off the duties or keep them down. What we have to realize is that from one end of Australia to the other - right up to Port Essendon, and away to the western side of Port Darwin - there are forests which should be preserved and made a tremendous asset to the nation in the near future. We, as' the National Parliament, should do everything in our power to develop these forests. I am not asking for the higher duty on behalf of a particular individual, but trying to save Australia from being reduced to the position of Sweden and Germany, which had to expend millions in afforesting country which had been denuded of timber. Unless we take some action of the kind I suggest, probably, at a very early date, all the cedar in the Atherton country will be burnt off.

Senator Rae - Why?

Senator CHATAWAY - Because there will not be enough protection to make it worth while to save the trees. Our duty- is to encourage the timber industry as much as we can. If there is one member of this Parliament who is reasonably and strongly against the shipping combine it is Senator Rae. Yet it is that very combine into whose hands he plays when he tries to make it more difficult for our people to carry their timber along the coast, as compared with the timber which is brought here from Puget Sound, and other parts of the world. That is really the reason for the high cost of Queensland timber in this part of the Commonwealth. Whether it be for ornamentation, decoration, piano-making, or the making of butter boxes, there is no imported timber which will beat the timber which we can produce in our own country. I ask my honorable friends, who are one day Protectionists, and another day Free Traders, to look at the matter, ifthey can, through my spectacles. I am a straightout Protectionist whenever it is a question of assisting a primary industry. Let us be warned by the fate which overtook the old oak industry of England.

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