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Friday, 16 March 1928

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) . - Unlike other honorable senators, I have not been deluged with correspondence and telegrams, nor have I been approached by the sawmillers, in relation to the duties on timber. Anything that I shall say to-day is the outcome of my personal observations. I cannot understand the objection to these duties on the ground that they will place a heavy burden on the people. My experience has shown conclusively that in the long run a hardwood dwelling is much cheaper than one constructed of Oregon or Baltic timber. A few weeks ago I saw in Tasmania a dwelling constructed entirely of Australian hardwood, which although 42 years old, was still sound. The owner assured me that the cost of upkeep during that period was infinitesimal compared with the cost of buildings constructed of Baltic timber.

Senator Verran - It is unreasonable to suggest that the timber is as sound to-day as it was when used for the erection of the dwelling 42 years ago.

Senator PAYNE - The timber is quite sound to-day. The suggestion that Australian timbers can never take the place of Oregon is ridiculous. If I had the time I could quote the opinions of some of the most eminent architects in Australia that such' a statement is unwarranted. Complaint has been made regarding the weight of hardwood structures; but there is no necessity to use timber of the same dimensions when hardwood is substituted for Oregon. Senator Duncan said that Australian timber could never replace Oregon.

Senator Duncan - For certain purposes.

Senator PAYNE - It has been urged that for casing for concrete construction

Oregon timber is essential ; but anyone who has witnessed the construction of concrete buildings knows that even in the largest buildings only a comparatively small quantity of timber is used, because the moulds are used over and over again.

Senator Duncan - Can Australian hardwood take the place of Oregon for that class of work?

Senator J B Hayes - Yes; I have used it.

Senator PAYNE - Even if Australian hardwood could not be used for that purpose, the quantity of Oregon which would be required would be small. I desire to quote the opinion expressed by Mr: K. Henderson, of the well known firm of architects, Anketell and Henderson, of Collins-street, Melbourne -

Australian hardwood floor boards - I have never had a failure, and have literally used miles of it. Weatherboards a,re beautiful when stained and oiled, and I have never had any trouble with what I have used. Linings - ditto.

I could continue all day with quotations showing the suitability of Australian timber for the making of furniture. In my own home I have a quantity of furniture made of Tasmanian hardwood, which has shown no sign of warping or shrinking.

Senator Herbert Hays - Honorable senators have only to look around this chamber to see the suitability of Australian timbers for furniture.

Senator PAYNE - Baltic timber cannot compare with Australian hardwood for flooring. The former will not stand staining, or if it is stained it soon shows signs of wear, and must either be covered or replaced. On the . other hand, Tasmanian hardwood or myrtle makes a beautiful and lasting floor. As the result of the flooding of the Australian market with imported timbers, one of our most important industries has practically been destroyed. Nature has provided us with a wonderful asset in our forests; but because of the huge importations of timber during the last ten years, much of our valuable native timber has gone to waste. When, a tree has attained a certain age it should be felled and the timber used. If that is not done it commences to deteriorate. It is a crime to allow magnificent trees to remain standing after they have attained a certain age.

Senator Thompson - Some trees remain sound for 600 years; so what need is there for hurry?

Senator PAYNE - It is true that King Billy pine will last for 600 years; but that is not the case with most trees.

Senator Kingsmill - One of the chief difficulties is to prevent sawmillers from utilizing the timber before it is fit to use.

Senator PAYNE - I agree that our timber industry should be controlled. I believe it will be, for the conscience of the Australian people as to the value of our timbers is being awakened. Our forests will have to be scientifically utilized, and the timber cut at the proper stage of growth. Since the introduction of this Tariff Schedule a number of sawmills which had closed down, have been reopened. I know also that numbers of men in business on tha mainland hav& recently visited Tasmania to inquire as to future supplies of timber from that State. If sufficiently protected the timber industry will revive. Mr. G. W. Hudson, the managing director of George Hudson Limited, whose establishment .is in Senator Duncan.'s State, is in favour of increased duties on timber. He contends that the duties will overcome most of the grievances of the sawmillers, and give employment to a number of Australians in the milling of flooring, lining and weatherboards, to replace timber now imported from abroad.

Senator Duncan - Does he give any undertaking that he will not increase the price ?

Senator PAYNE - According to officials of the State Savings Bank, Victoria, the additional cost of a timber dwelling, by reason of these increased duties, will be about £8. On the basis of Ti per cent, interest per annum, that represents an additional 12s. a year. But the savings in upkeep which will be effected will more than compensate for that additional capital cost.

Senator Sir George Pearce - The owner of a building compelled to pay that additional cost could save an equivalent amount by wearing imported socks!

Senator PAYNE - The right honorable gentleman's interjection suggests that I am inconsistent in my attitude towards this Schedule. I challenge any one to show that this Parliament has not given to ' our secondary industries - although they are not nearly so important as are our primary industry - a greater measure of protection than is now sought for the timber industry.' Unless we take a stand to-day the position of our timber industry will get worse year by year. Unless we stop the rot that set in a few years ago, when, because of the operation of certain of our laws, the timber industry was practically wiped out, the people of Australia will incur heavier and heavier losses. I agree with Senator Kingsmill that one of the problems we have to face in connexion with our timber trade is the high coastal freights. In the meantime we have an opportunity to bring about a revival in the trade and perhaps, later on, Parliament may see its way to amend the laws which now prevent us from getting cheap freights. I hope that the Senate will approve of the protection now proposed to be afforded to the important timber industry of Australia.

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