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Friday, 22 May 1936

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - I impress upon the Minister the hope which is shared by all members of the Opposition and sympathetically endorsed by other honorable senators that, if it should be necessary to economize in any of the divisions coming within the ambit of the department of the Interior, the Forestry Department will not be one of them. Forestry operations should be encouraged in every possible way, not only for aesthetic reasons, and the beauty created by growing forests, but also for economic reasons. The Australian forests have a vast potential value.

Honorable senators are well aware of the difficulties experienced by members of Parliament in obtaining accommodation in Canberra. Those who are accommodated at the Hotel Kurrajong have no complaints; they are well satisfied with the conditions. But accommodation generally in the Federal Capital Territory is insufficient. I understand that the Department of the Interior is considering the enlargement of the Hotel Kurrajong, but even if this plan be carried out, it will not provide adequate accommodation at a moderate price, to which members of Parliament are entitled*

During the last four years in this chamber I have repeatedly referred to the unsatisfactory conditions obtaining at Molonglo and at the Causeway. So far as I know, the department has taken no action to remedy the position, which is a disgrace to Canberra and to the responsible authorities.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [11.42], - I enthusiastically endorse the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator. Collings) in regard to forestry. It is an Australian tragedy that the Forestry School in Canberra is not receiving the generous and wholehearted support of the Sates.

Senator Collings - Cannot something in the way of publicity be done to induce the States to supply forestry students for the school?

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE - The Commonwealth Government cannot compel the States to send forestry students to Canberra. It is necessary to train scientific foresters for Australia, which, more than any other country, requires a forestry policy; but the Commonwealth cannot persuade the States to supply pupils. As a result, there is a possibility of the school being closed.

Senator Foll - Why will not the States send pupils to the school?

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE - New South Wales, for instance, proposes to start a forestry school on its own account. This wretched non-co-operation and State jealousy are responsible for the position; it is a reflection on our forestry conscience. To-day, Australia is paying a big price for the neglect of its forests, and it will pay a bigger price in future. Our one great river, the Murray, is steadily deteriorating because of the absence of a forestry policy in relation frits head waters. I fear that the deterioration will continue, unless the government's take action to safeguard the river banks from erosion, which is steadily proceeding, through the absolute ignorance oi those who control the country at its source.

Senator Collings - Has the serious ness of the position been represented io the States?

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE.Yes; time and time again they have been approached. It makes one despair of anything being done.

The Leader of the Opposition referred to steps which are being taken to enlarge the accommodation at the Hotel Kurrajong. I understand- that increased accommodation is necessary, not only for members of Parliament, but also for the general public, because the problem is becoming a pressing one. This is due to the fact that' Canberra is at last coming into its own as a . tourist centre. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) is alive to the position, and plans are being prepared for the extension of accommodation for visitors.

The position at Molonglo, to which the honorable Leader of the Opposition referred, is being met by a vigorous programme of cottage building. I am sure that Senator Collings must have noticed the effects of that programme. As the new cottages become available, the temporary structures at Molonglo will be vacated.

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