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Thursday, 13 May 1915

Senator HENDERSON (Western Australia) . - Senator de Largie has made out an excellent case for the consideration of the Government. It is well known that the only method by which the Commonwealth Government can in any way assist unemployment in Western Australia will be bv acting in the direction suggested by Senator de Largie, and securing a stock of sleepers for future railways. Either the Commonwealth Government intend to build these railways, or they do not. If the policy of railway construction is to be carried out at all, I apprehend it will not be postponed for ten or fifteen years, but that, on the contrary, it will be commenced within a reasonable period. Therefore, sleepers will be required for all those works, and the Government would do well to remember that in normal times it is very difficult indeed to obtain sleepers from Western Australia, because, owing to the pressure of orders from overseas, the largest timber companies trading there would not look at a Commonwealth contract. I would also point out that, in the event of the war coming to an end at an early date - and we all hope that it will - the demand for Western Australian hardwood will undoubtedly be very much greater than it has ever been in the past; and as orders for large timber will be very numerous, the companies will not trouble themselves, or waste time in cutting up the timber for sleepers. The "Vice-President of the Executive Council, who appeared to be in some doubt concerning the seasoning of timber, should seek information from the Minister of Defence, who is thoroughly conversant with the timber industry in all its branches. If he consults the Minister of Defence, he will learn that Western Australian timber seasoned for threeyears is good: but if seasoned for seven years, it is infinitely better, and will bringa much higher price in the open market.. Though green timber may be somewhat cheaper at the time of purchase, it invariably proves dearer in the end. If the Government purchase a stock now,, they will obtain it at a cheaper rate than would be possible a little later on, when probably demands will be made from all parts of the world for Western Australian hardwood timber suitable for big work. It is very likely that bridge work will form a large percentage, of the undertakings to be carried out in different partsof the world after the war, and Western Australian hardwood timber is particularly suitable for that kind of work. Therefore, unless the Commonwealth take steps to obtain stocks of - sleepers now, they will not be in so good a position a little later on if they come into the market for this class of timber. By giving ordersnow they will get cheaper timber, but what is quite as important, they will' assist people who are now unemployed; and surely we cannot do better than useevery endeavour to help our own people in their hour of need.

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