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Thursday, 3 December 1936

Senator McLEAY (South Australia) .- Until the 22nd May last the duty on oregon logs was 20 per cent., which meant approximately1s. per 100 super. feet. Underthat duty the industry had been making headway. On the 22nd May an increase took place from1s. to 4s. 6d. per 100 super. feet.

Senator Hardy - What was the duty on sawn timber before that date?

Senator McLEAY - I am not concerned about that because 90 per cent. of theoregon comes in as logs. In replying to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Ceilings), who referred to the use oforegon in the United States of America, I stated that the thing that pleased me most of all was that for the year ended the 30th June, 1936, 96 per cent. of Australia's importations oforegon came from

Canada. I have official statistics to prove the truth of that statement. I have no desire to see any Australian industry hampered. I invite the Leader of the Country Party (Senator Hardy) to attend with me any meeting of the Chamber of Manufactures and say that so far as the industry in Australia is concerned its protection is not excessive; it is as high as that of any secondary industry in Australia.

Senator J B Hayes - It is higher.

Senator McLEAY - The Leader of the Opposition referred to the employment given to persons engaged in the log industry. For the year ended the 30th June, 1936, the imports of oregon logs totalled 137,000,000 super. feet. Did not that create employment for men in this country? Senator Hardy has said that the Tariff Board did not consider the subject of logs before it recommended an increase of the duty to 10 per cent. ad valorem. Did not the Tariff Board encourage the importation of logs into Australia so that employment would be created for Australian workmen in cutting up the logs? The Tariff Board considered this matter in 1930, 1932 and 1933, and, with the evidence before it, brought, forward a recommendation that the duty on logs should be 10 per cent. I refer Senator Hardy to the following paragraph at page 14 of the Tariff Board's report of 1933-

The consumers obtain no benefit from the lower duty on logs; all the evidence tendered in this connexion leads to the conclusion that the ultimate cost of timber sawn in Australia is practically the. same as the cost of the sawn timber imported. It follows, then, that there is a loss of revenue amounting to 9s. 6d. for each 100 super. feet sawn in Australia. The only compensatory advantage is the employment given in the sawing of logs locally and as this amounts to less than 3s. 6d. per 100 super. feet of output, the maintenance of the existing margin is obviously uneconomic.

That is why the Tariff Board suggested that the duties on logs should be 10 per cent., and on sawn timber 6s. per 100 super. feet. I desire to see Australian industries flourish but this Parliament, by excessive protection, is doing definite injury to Australia. I say that the increase of the duty from 6d. to 4s. per 100 super. feet is ridiculous.

Senator Badman - That is 800 per cent.

Senator McLEAY - The f.o.b. price of oregon logs in Canada is 3s; 4d. per 100 super, feet. To that must he added freight, exchange, wharfage and duty amounting to 4s. per hundred super, feet, and primage of id. per 100 super, feet. Under the Brereton system of measurement, which we use in Australia to-day, 25 per cent, of the log is wasted, hut the importer is charged duty on the full amount. That brings his account from the Customs Department up to 5s. 11-Jd. per 100 super, feet, to which must be added all other costs. I conclude by saying that I regret that although this matter was referred to the Tariff Board the board's report was not made available to honorable senators, and its recommendations were ignored by the Government. Honorable senators should keep clearly before them what Professors Copland, Brigden and Giblin said at the inquiry -

Excessive protection has a demoralizing effect upon self-reliant, efficient industries in all forms of production.

My object in moving that a reduction be made from 4s. to 3s. per 100 super, feet, is to see that those who have invested in the industry will not lose their money, and that the men engaged in cutting up the 137,000,000 super, feet of Oregon logs imported into Australia will still be employed. It is essential that the importation of oregon should continue for building purposes, and the timber should be permitted entry into Australia at a more reasonable rate; if we can reduce prices we shall be able to increase employment and reduce construction costs, and those engaged in the industry will not suffer.

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