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Friday, 22 May 1936

Senator BROWN (Queensland) . - So far' as the States are concerned in the development of afforestation, they excuse their inaction by lack of funds. During the last few years the Commonwealth Government has been in the fortunate position of having an overflowing exchequer, as the result of several large surpluses. All serious-minded Australians admit that the problems of afforestation and soil erosion are of high national importance. Why should it not be possible for this Government, not only to conduct a national forestry school, but also to assume a certain amount of direct control in these matters?

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE - At a conference between the Commonwealth and State governments, it was agreed that the Commonwealth should provide higher education in afforestation through a national forestry school, and that direct control of forests should be left to the States. That is why the Commonwealth Government has not done so much in this matter as we should like to see done.

Senator BROWN - Such a division of powers in forestry matters is wrong. Like defence, afforestation and soil erosion should be completely under the control of the Commonwealth Government. In view of the earnestness displayed by the Leader of the Senate and the enthusiasm of Government supporters in this matter, I believe that it is possible for this Government to make some effort to overcome the apathy of the States and to improve the existing methods, as these, undoubtedly, have failed. It must bc made plain to the States that, despite the difficulties, which may have confronted thom in the past, they are not tackling this problem as seriously as they should. It is up to this Government to safeguard our soil and improve our forests by seeing that this jot is properly carried out.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Department of Defence.

Proposed Vote,£1,168,170.

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