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Thursday, 26 November 1936

Senator HARDY (New South Wales) . - I have an impression that New South Wales is one of the States that was blamed for not sending students to the Australian Forestry School. In a previous debate, the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) said that 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. That statement is not entirely correct, because, at the inauguration of the school, the Queensland Government refused to commit itself in any way to its establishment. Senator Collings, I think, will endorse that statement.

Senator Collings - The man who was then Commissioner of Forests in Queensland left my State, and he is now carrying on "his vendetta in New South Wales.

Senator HARDY - That is not correct. The present Commissioner of Forests is not carrying on a vendetta of any kind. On the 4)th August, 1925, the New South Wales Government informed the Prime Minister that it would support the scheme and endeavour to nominate three students annually for the ensuing ten years. The actual nominations have been as follows: -

New South Wales has carried out the undertaking given in 1925, and I believe that it was the last State to send students to the school. There are on the roll to-day only four students, three being from New South Wales, and one from Queensland; but I understand that students will be enrolled from other States in the near future. Speaking on this subject recently, the Leader of the Senate stated that the Australian Forestry School was established for the definite purpose of preventing a further overlapping of Commonwealth and State functions. But forestry is not a Commonwealth function; it is a State matter.

Senator Sir George Pearce - I was not suggesting that there was overlapping on the part of the Commonwealth. I said that the overlapping was due to each State having a forestry school.

Senator HARDY - But the State Forestry Commissions are responsible for the results obtained from afforestation in their own States. The New South Wales Forestry 'Commission has to get results, and must take whatever action it considers advisable to preserve the forests and ensure a reasonable timber supply for that State. To do that the commission has to Secure a suitable staff and train it in its own way. I submit that it cannot hand over this valuable right to a school which may train the students under a different system. In my own opinion, and I am supported by authorities, the Canberra school has not given, and cannot give, to the New South Wales commission the service it requires in order to secure the desired results. It has been said that the friendly opposition by New South Wales to the Canberra Forestry School arises from the conviction that a State staff-training arrangement will lend itself to an economic mobilization of the State's education and forestry re sources for the purpose of producing forestry practitioners trained to a higher degree of usefulness in forestry than can an expensive concentration at an academic centre remote from forests, universities, and forest services. When Mr. Kessel, who plays a prominent part in forestry work in Western Australia, visited New South Wales, he was inclined to support that State in its desire to train its own staff in its own way.

Senator Sir George Pearce - Mr. Kessel has always supported the idea of a central school.

Senator HARDY - Yes, but only for the purpose of carrying out certain functions. The New South Wales authorities are hoping to introduce a cadet system such as has already been established in Queensland. It would provide for a six-years' course. There would be two years of university courses in tha fundamental subjects closely allied to the course for a degree in agricultural science; and two years of special field training under the aegis of the department itself. That is most important, because the cadet must be taught the routine of the department which he is to serve.

The third requirement of the course is two years' specialization in pure forestry. In this realm the Forestry School at Canberra can serve a definite purpose. The States should be entrusted with the major part of the training, leaving the Canberra school to specialize in pure forestry. The scheme also provides for overseas post-graduate courses for outstanding students. Even if New South Wales were to allow its students to proceed to Canberra, it would be 1940 or 1941 before any of them could be sent there. In the circumstances, it is not reasonable to expect New South Wales to send its students to the national school.

There is no antagonism between the forestry authorities in the States and those at the Commonwealth Forestry School, but there is a difference of opinion as to which method will secure the most practical results. I can understand the attitude of a man who has been appointed as State Conservator of Forests. He is responsible for the work of his department, and, if that work is not done thoroughly, the blame will fall on him.

An elementary right of an administrator is that of choosing and training his own staff. He cannot be held responsible if forced to accept persons trained elsewhere. I hope that there will be cooperation between the Commonwealth and the States in regard to forestry ; but I believe that that co-operation must be limited practically to post-graduate courses, or, at least, to advanced courses in pure forestry.

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