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Thursday, 3 December 1936

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) . - Despite all the warmth that this debate has engendered, one aspect of this question appears to have been almost overlooked. The duties on oregon were referred to the Tariff Board in 1933. At that time there was a demand fororegon, and, in order to meet it, sawn oregon was imported. It was thought, however, that Australia would reap an advantage if theoregon, instead of being imported already sawn, were brought here in logs and cut up into the required sizes by Australian workmen. As the result of inquiry, fir logs were subject to a duty of about1s. 4d. per 100 super. feet. As it would have been useless to bring in oregon as logs unless Australian sawmills could cut those logs into useful sizes, many timber merchants in South Australia, and probably in the other States also, established plants to cut up the logs. Those plants have been in use for only about three years, and are still too good to be scrapped.

Senator Hardy - If the oregon were imported, not in logs, but in squares those plants would still be required.

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The plants which were installed were designed to deal with logs. The trifling reduction of the duty on oregon made in the House of Representatives is evidence that the Government is convinced that an injustice was being done to those engaged in cutting imported logs into the sizes required by builders. Out of consideration for the people who have established this sawing industry and those who are employed in it, the Government should make some concession. Senator Hardy said that he did not believe that more than 200 men are employed in the work. I do not know whether there are 200 or 2,000, but I do know that in my own State it is a very useful little industry, in which a great amount of money has been expended by the timber merchants in providing the machinery and other apparatus for the sawing up of the logs. It would be a gracious act on the part of the Government if they agreed to bring the rate down to 3s., thus making a concession of1s. 6d., instead of making what is nothing more than an empty gesture by offering a. reduction of only 6d.

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