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Wednesday, 16 September 1936

Senator HARDY (New South Wales) . - I should like some information from the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) as to the intentions of the Government regarding the future of the Australian Forestry School at Canberra. There has been a good deal of discussion concerning the Forestry School, and particularly as to whether it will be supported by the States. I understand that in the current year there are only four students at the school. If my memory is correct, the Leader of the Senate stated in an earlier period of the session that unless the States were prepared to give more support to the school, it would have to r.* closed. I ask the Minister to inform the Senate whether he has received any further promises of support from the States since he made that statement. Is there any likelihood of an increased enrolment of students? Is it the intention of the Government to continue the maintenance of a forestry training school at Canberra? This is an important matter, since there has been a good deal of controversy in the newspapers of the States on the subject. There has been much debate as to the merits and demerits of the school, and in view cf the attitude of the States, I should like to know the intentions of the Commonwealth Government in regard to it.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [5.5]. - This is a matter in which I also am keenly interested, and 1 am sure honorable senators will be pleased to learn that it is the intention of the Government to keep the forestry school open if sufficient students are provided by the States. The school was established on the definite understanding that the various States would send students in sufficient numbers to justify the capital expenditure and cost of maintenance. For a time the States did this. The Commonwealth did not ask the State Governments to share the expenditure.

Senator Arkins - Have all the States declined to send students?

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE.No. New South Wales alone has taken up that attitude, but financial. difficulties in recent years have been mainly responsible for the majority of the States failing to send students. Some time ago, despairing of getting sufficient students, the Minister for the Interior announced that unless the States fulfilled their part of the agreement the Government would be obliged to close the school. Shortly afterwards, so the Minister informed .me, some of the States, realizing the unwisdom of allowing the school to be closed, reopened negotiations with a view to sending students to it. The Minister further informed me that, because of these overtures he was hopeful that it would not be necessary to close the school. It was established for the definite purpose of preventing further overlapping of Commonwealth and State functions, and in the confident belief that a central school of forestry, well staffed and properly equipped, would be able to do better work than six State forestry schools.

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