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Thursday, 3 December 1936


Senator BADMAN (South Australia.) . - I was unavoidably absent when Senator McLeay moved his amendment; but I desire to add my opinion, and the result of my observations in regard to the importation of Douglas fir. As has been stated on several occasions, I have found that the climate of South Australia and probably other parts of Australia is not at all conducive to the use of local timbers for the construction of houses, and particularly for roofing purposes. The great difficulty is to find a suitable substitute for oregon. A protective duty operates in favour of indigenous Australian timbers, which makes the imported timber costly to people who are compelled to use oregon in the erection of buildings. The Minister has stated that if it be right to impose a duty on sawn oregon, it would be illogical not to have a duty on logs. Prior to the installation of the machinery, which is being used by saw-millers at Port Adelaide at the present time for the cutting up of logs, honorable senators from South Australia were constantly approached by timber importers with the request to support a lowering of the duty on oregon. The 12 inch x 10 inch sawn timber being admitted into

Australia was being used not only by the building trade, but also for underground mining purposes. The mining industry is able to procure 12 inch x 10 inch oregon on a duty free basis; but miners in dry climates, such as are experienced at Broken Hill, and other sections of the community, are obliged to pay an exorbitant duty on this timber when used for constructional purposes. Honorable senators from .South Australia have been requested, therefore, to endeavour to have the duty reduced as low as possible. "When the Government refused to accede to our requests, Douglas fir and similar logs of the type from which oregon was sawn were admitted at about 6d. per 100 super, feet under the Hoppus measurement; but to-day, because South Australian saw-millers have installed machinery costing £24,000 for the purpose of cutting up the logs to small lengths, the Government finds that the customs revenue from this source has declined, and the duty on logs has been increased to put such timber on the same basis as the sawn timber. Thereby the Government is keeping up the revenue which was formerly obtained from the importation of sawn timber.


Senator Collings - It is quite ingenious.


Senator BADMAN - That is an instance of the ingenuity of the Customs Department directed by the Government, in obtaining revenue. I am surprised that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings), who constantly urges us to " give the poor man a chance ", is not prepared on this occasion to give him a chance to build his home in States where climatic conditions would cause Australian timber to warp.


Senator Collings - I shall have something to say on that matter later.


Senator BADMAN - Unfortunately, the fact remains that, through these duties, the cost of building nouses is made higher than is necessary. In regard to this matter, the advice of the Tariff Board has been ignored by the Government. Not that I contend that Parliament should always accept the advice of that body; upon occasions we do not agree with its finding; but the Tariff Board has reported that this duty is excessive, and indicates that it should be reduced in respect of logs. Ignoringthat recommendation, the Government proceeds to collect the same amount of revenue as formerly on Douglas fir. By the use of oregon in Australia, the milling and cutting of indigenous timber is not affected. In spite of the fact that the price of oregon is so high, it will still have to be imported in quantities as great as previously.


Senator Herbert Hays - A certain amount of oregon must be imported, but not for general purposes.


Senator BADMAN - There are few woods with such a tensile strength, as oregon. Honorable senators, including Senator Collings, should be aware of that fact. Saw-milling companies in South Australia urged the reduction of the duty on sawn timber, and I was prepared to support them. When I found later that the same companies were urging that the duty should remain on sawn timber, I investigated the cause. They had installed machinery and thereby given considerable employment ; they even managed to reduce the price. until the Government took this action.


Senator Hardy - How many men lost their jobs through the imposition of this duty?


Senator BADMAN - I am concerned for the men w"ho found employment through the installation of the machinery.


Senator J B Hayes - Some of the Australian hardwood mills were closing down.


Senator BADMAN - Can the honorable senator cite an instance of men having to be discharged through the increased use of imported, timber?


Senator Hardy - The timber mills were going to the wall.


Senator BADMAN - Some Australian timber is not so suitable for certain purposes as is oregon. When it is claimed, that Australian timber will serve as a substitute for Oregon, I should like to know why it is not holding its position 1


Senator Hardy - It is improving its position.


Senator BADMAN - No Australian timber can equal oregon for certain purposes. I support Senator McLeay's request.







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