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Thursday, 13 May 1915

Senator BUZACOTT (Western Australia) . - The question raised by Senator de Largie has' received a good deal of consideration from members of this Parliament in past years. A Labour Government in 1910 or 1911 decided to erect storage sheds at Canberra for the seasoning of timber, an admission that timber is improved by seasoning. I find that last year we appropriated £2,800 for the storage and seasoning of timber, and on this year's Estimates a vote of £2,400 appears for the same purpose. In the face of that admission by the Government that seasoning improves timber, I am unable to understand the answer given by the Minister to Senator de Largie this afternoon. Two or three years ago members of the Senate and honorable members in another place expressed the opinion that the life of timber when placed in the ground is extended by about three times its ordinary life if it is first of all seasoned. We have* at present to take into consideration, not only the fact that timber is improved by seasoning, but that the policy of the present Government is to open up and develop Australia by railway. The policy of the State Government is the same. In all probability we shall have in Australia next year the best season we have ever had. There will, no doubt, be a considerable extension, of the area under crop. Those who are unemployed to-day will very likely be occupied twelve months hence in the building of railways by the State Governments and by the Commonwealth Government, and we shall then find it a very difficult matter indeed to secure the sleepers we shall require. There is now an opportunity to employ the many thousands of persons unemployed in the different States in cutting timber to supply the sleepers which will be required next year and the year afterwards. I hope that the Government will give this matter further consideration. If they will consult authorities on the subject they will have to come to the conclusion that it will pay them better to get sleepers cut now, and have them stocked and seasoned ready for the time when they will have to be used.

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