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Wednesday, 16 November 1927

Senator FOLL - I think that the average price of Queensland pine ceiling boards in given lengths is about £3 per 100 feet.

Senator Reid - The price used to be from 13s. 6d. to 15s. 6d. per 100 feet.

Senator FOLL - To-day the royalties paid on the timber amount to more than the price mentioned by the honorable senator. The figures that I shall now quote will give some idea of the way in which the Queensland Government has profiteered. In the year 1920-21 the Government received in royalties from its pine forests £145,S02. In the same year it spent in re-afforestation, and in the administration of the Forestry Department, only £72,718. In 1924-25 the royalties received amounted to £246,641, mad the amount spent in re-afforestation and administration was only £60,542. It is quite evident that the Queensland Government is using its pine forests for purely taxation purposes. Although Queensland is the greatest softwood-producing State in Australia, the only thing that has tended to keep softwoods at a reasonable price in that State is the fa

Now, having in mind the request from the Queensland authorities that a subsidy be paid to the State Governments for reafforestation purposes, when the Government placed into the Consolidated Revenue Fund the very large sums it receives from these very high royalty charges, spending little or nothing itself on re-afforestation: and, further, having in mind the fact that the ad valorem equivalents of the present duties amount to, on different sizes of Oregon timber, from 50 per cent, to 85 per cent.; on Baltic timber from 45 per cent, to 50 per cent.; and on certain furniture timbers from 12^ per cent, to 25 per cent. . . . the following utterance of Mr. Swain, Director of the Queensland Forest Service, at a Tariff Board Conference, 28th April, 1924, would be difficult to match for its amazing divergence from facts: - "If the tariff make a national resource of a country worthless, something should be done. That position seems to arise from the fact that, whereas protection is a general policy, timber has not been protected at all. I would like the board to do something to enable us to make this industry prosper."

Further comment on such assertions is unnecessary. In the opinion of the Tariff Board any further increase in the tariff on timber used for structural purposes and for furniture would, as far as the State of Queensland is concerned, simply result in an increased cost of building construction and cabinet making as a result of the additional imposts which would be placed upon the saw-milling industry by the State Government acting through its Forestry Department, and in addition by these other factors already described by the Queensland Director of Forests as " profiteers."

Now let us turn to hardwoods.

The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator has exhausted his time.

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