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Friday, 25 November 1927

Senator SAMPSON (Tasmania) . - It will be admitted that the care of our existing forests has been so neglected that many of them are at present in a chaotic state; but I am very hopeful that the step now being made to restore order will have the desired effect. I am, however, not over-sanguine, because practically all the schemes in which the Commonwealth engages in co-operation with the States have not been a success. The establishment of a forestry bureau should assist to some extent in solving the problems with which we are faced, particularly in having large supplies of over-matured hardwoods such as are found in Tasmania. As much of this valuable timber is at present not being properly utilized, it may be regarded as only a waste product. It is not surprising that the timber industry in Tasmania is languishing, when one realizes the large quantities of timber that are being imported from the United States of America, 'Canada, Sweden, Norway, and even the Philippine Islands. The policy of the timber-getter is simplicity itself. He cuts what he wants and leaves the balance, which is often a menace, and likely to cause fires. The waste timber products of Europe are fully utilized, but in Australia they are not put to any commercial use, although we are hoping that it will not be long before the paper pulp industry is established in the Commonwealth. That is one of the problems to which the Inspector-General of Forests should devote his attention. If a use can be found for small hardwood timber, crooked boles, and even the leaves, which would enable those possessing areas on which timber is growing to obtain a satisfactory return for their product our problem- will be solved. We have vast quantities of magnificent timber in Australia, a good deal of which is not being used for commercial purposes. During the war period we had prohibition of imports and we found that we could use our own timbers in various ways previously untried. When further development occurs we should be able to absolutely prohibit the importation of timber, as the result of huge imports of cheap baltic dressed timber we are having a very hard time with our weatherboards, lining and flooring. Some people maintain that it is a good thing for us to have this flood of timber coming in from overseas. It is said that in a few years the world will be faced with a timber famine, and that when that time comes, Australia not having utilized its present resources, will be in a good position to supply the requirements of the world. I do not think that argument will hold good. Mr. LanePoole, when he was Conservator of Forests in Western Australia, dealt with this aspect of the question, and said : -

Between 500,000 and 750,000 tons of utilizable woods are being burned by sawmillers every year. This destruction is mainly due to. the quantity of small sizes not required, if there were a proper duty, these sizes would be of commercial value. 1 should welcome a revision of the tariff, and would like to see so heavy a duty placed on imported woods as to force thu community throughout Australia to use its own woods, and make the use of imported woods a luxury only possible to the rich.

Hisviews coincide with mine in that respect. Mr. R. D. Hay, one of the Forestry Commission of New South Wales, writing on the 14th May, 1926, said -

Closing up forests to recuperate, mid importing timber to relieve the demand on them:

Any one advocating this is plainly unaware of the present condition of our native resources. The forests, generally, are in :i position demanding treatment to make them more productive. A great deal of the contained supply includes over-mature and damaged trees which have passed the stage of utility and require to be destroyed, or disposed of if a market can be found for the material, in order to make room for something more valuable, in thu shape of -i new crop to take their place. The forester's job is to take the abnormal natural forest and, by management, to transpose it into a normal one, and in so doing, its prospective yield can be at least doubled and very often trebled. You see how important this attention is when we have admittedly a limited forest area. If the yield of each acre can be increased by only .100 per cent., it means, in effect doubling our forest area.

Mr. L.G. Irby, Conservator of Forests in Tasmania, giving evidence before- the Tariff Board on the 15th April, 1925, said -

I have heard it argued by people who have not studied deeply the forestry question of Australia, that it is a good thing that we are able to get all this imported timber from foreign countries in order to save our own forests. I do not think we aru saving our own forests. I think you can travel all over Australia and you cannot see where we are saving our own forests. So that if the importations are tending to save our own forests, we are not doing it. I claim the very opposite is happening.

I trust that one of the first tasks of the Forestry Bureau will be to get the best out of our own forests. In Tasmania we could double the cut and still hare plenty of timber in sight for the next ninety years. From the way in which the second reading was agreed to, it is obvious that honorable senators consider this bill a step in the right direction. I welcome the establishment of the bureau and I trust that the hopes expressed at the opening of the School of Forestry yesterday will be realized. The point touching upon the need for marketing the overproduction of our forests is vital and has not received the attention it deserves.

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