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Friday, 22 May 1936

Senator GUTHRIE (Victoria) . - I heartily support the remarks of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Sir George Pearce), and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) on afforestation. We have seriously neglected the development of our forests, and to-day we should do all in our power to counteract the evils which have resulted from ignorance and apathy. In parts of Central Australia sand drift, which is due to rabbits ring-barking and causing the destruction of trees, is reported to have progressed fifteen and twenty miles, rendering big areas of country useless. Large areas in- the Mallee district in Victoria have been desolated in a similar way; neither the authorities nor the farmers realized the necessity to leave chains of timber to form windbreaks and sandbreaks. Much sand blows across the railway in this district, and a large expenditure is incurred annually in clearing the track. Similarly, the water channels under the control of the Wimmera United Water Trust tire also periodically blocked up with sand. 1 can recall the time when in both the Mallee and Wimmera districts timber abounded, and no trouble was caused by sand drift. In the intervening years, however, millions of trees have been ruthlessly destroyed, and to-day there is such a scarcity of firewood in these areas that from 7s. 6d. to 10s. a ton is paid for firewood. But, to my mind, the most stupid destruction of trees is going on between Seymour and Wangaratta. Here the Postal Department or some other authority is chopping down magnificent trees which line the main highway. This is splendid timber, yet it .is being ruthlessly destroyed in order to provide a clearing for the telegraph line. If we cannot check such destruction, which is a disgrace to the community, and is taking place right under our very eyes, how can we hope to implement a sane policy of afforestation? Two days ago in this chamber I asked a question on this matter, to which the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) gave a very unsatisfactory reply; he said that some other department, and not the Postal Department, was destroying these trees. In any case it is being done to facilitate the erection of a telegraph or electric line, and, instead of cutting down useless trees, the department responsible is destroying thousands of good trees. All honorable senators should unite to put up a determined fight in this matter.

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