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Friday, 25 November 1927

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) .-The lack of hostility to this measure is an indication that honorable senators generally welcome its introduction. There is, however, a danger, that owing to lack of system, we may not accomplish that which we desire. The committee has already agreed to a clause to place the Bureau of Forestry under the control of an Inspector-General of Forestry. We frequently hear the complaint that the present position of Australia, so far as the development of her forest resources is concerned, is due to lack of foresight on the part of past generations. It is easy to condemn those who have gone before us; that seems a habit of every generation. We should be Aviso not to over-estimate ourselves in this generation, but to leave, the verdict to those who will follow us. It is true that our pioneer settlers sacrificed, forests in order that agricultural pursuits might be followed, but I feel that to a great extent they had no alternative. That mistakes have been made in the past, is, however, no justification for this generation not taking steps to improve existing conditions. If ever a government had a warrant for the establishment of a new department at the expense of the taxpayers, the present Government has one in connexion with a new department to deal with forestry matters. Our existing timber resources should be protected and developed, and further areas placed under cultivation. The danger I see is that the work may not proceed along systematic lines. A bureau of forestry is to be created, and given enormous powers; but it is to be under the control of an Inspector-General of Forests. I take it that the members of the bureau will have some knowledge of forestry and be competent to carry out the functions of a forestry bureau. In that case, what necessity is there for the InspectorGeneral of Forests to control the bureau?

Senator McLachlan - The honorable senator is evidently of the opinion that the bureau will be a body apart from the Inspector-General of Forests. That is not so. The Inspector-General of Forests will occupy a position similar to that of the head of a department; the members of the bureau will work with him and be subject to his direction.

Senator LYNCH - Should there be a strong difference of opinion between the Inspector-General and the other members, that would not be conducive to efficient working. An important duty for which the bureau will he responsible is the collection and distribution of forest information. I regard that as one of the most important functions which this new body will be called upon to perform. Before much can be done in forestry matters, a forest conscience must be developed. It is always unwise to legislate in opposition to public opinion.

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