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Thursday, 26 November 1936

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- I endorse the remarks of Senator Collings. The Forestry School at Canberra is a valuable establishment, and with the cooperation of the State authorities it could be made much more useful to the Commonwealth than it is at the present time. I hope that the other States will follow the example set by Queensland. It would be a calamity to Australia if this branch had to be closed. We have gone to a good deal of expense in equipping and furnishing the school. Perhaps other States have failed to realize that it would be in their best interest to supply the number of cadets required.' Some time ago there was a danger of the branch having to be closed, but I am glad to know that that danger has now passed. It seems to me that the Government is satisfied that the branch will have a new lease of life. I notice that £4,280, as against £3,034 last year, is proposed to be expended in the current year on salaries and allowances, whilst for office requisites and equipment, stationery and printing £1,520 is to be voted, although only £383 was expended in this direction last year. I hope the Minister will be able to tell the committee that sufficient students will be forthcoming to warrant the increased expenditure.

Senator Sir George Pearce - The expenditure to which the honorable gentleman has referred relates to the ForestryBranch generally.

Senator PAYNE - I notice that under the works and buildings division is a proposed vote of £16,400 for "Repairs, maintenance, fittings and furniture " for the Department of Health, as against an expenditure last year of £7,092. I should like the Minister to give the reason for the increase. Will he also explain why, in connexion with the Electoral Branch, no vote is proposed for " Compensation to voters for injuries sustained at polling booths "? The expenditure last year was £575. I have read no press reports that voters were injured last year.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE (Westtern Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [9.21].- When the Estimates were drawn up, it was anticipated that the Australian Forestry School would have to be closed; but it was decided to increase the scope of the activities of the Forestry Bureau, and extra salaries were provided for,, because of the extension of this portion of its activities. Since that time some indication has been given that it may not be necessary to close the Forestry School, and negotiations are still proceeding in the hope that it may be possible to continue it. Personally, I think that it would be a calamity to Australia if the school were closed. If there be any individual who is standing in the way of its success, the interests of forestry are greater than those of any individual. Of course the Government does not desire to place the blame on the wrong shoulders and does not want anybody to suffer who is not to blame for any friction that has arisen.

The provision under the works and buildings division for the Department of Health includes £5,000 for fittings of the new building to be erected at Broadmeadows, for which funds have been provided in the new works Estimates for the current financial year. That explains the increase of that vote.

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