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Thursday, 3 December 1936

Senator BADMAN (South Australia) . - The statement of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) that we would smash the Australian industry by a reduction of the duty on logs by1s. per 100 super. feet is preposterous and ridiculous. The honorable senator becomes all hot and bothered, as though the very vitals of Australian industry were being cut out by such a request as is now before the committee. We in South Australia are fully aware of the value of afforestation to the saw-milling industry. We have in South Australia the finest saw-mill in Australia. It is a government saw-mill, situated at Mount Burr, and turns out a tremendous amount of sawn timber, principally pinus insignis and radiata, in the shape of shooks for cases and light laths. Even at the present time it cannot cope with the demand from Victoria and New South Wales for shooks. We, therefore, know something about the industry in our State. I have been over the whole of that mill, and have seen it in operation. It is an illustration of the value of the industry to Australia, but there is no thought in this request of interfering with an Australian industry. Senator Hardy said a little while ago that there was an increase of the importation of oregon logs during 1934 and 1935, after the Government had given the local timber merchants the opportunity to saw the timber up under the low tariff duties. In 1931 and 1932, as the Leader of the Opposition and other honorable senators will remember, the building trade was at the lowest ebb that it has reached for twenty years, but in 1934 and 1935 there was a great increase of building, which we are thankful to know has continued up to the present time. There has been a demand for timber, and I warrant that, if figures were obtainable with regard to the use of Australian timber, a tremendous increase of the output from the saw-mills and of the use of Australian timber in local industries would be revealed. The Leader of the Opposition said that we should conserve Australian industries as much as possible and re-afforest, and otherwise look after the timber reserves. All that is very well, but not many years ago complaints were made in Western Australia and New South Wales of the exportation of our hardwoods, immense quantities of which were being purchased by India and South Africa for use as sleepers. It was thought that it might become necessary to impose an export embargo, and I am inclined to think that that should be done in some cases. Those who oppose the amendment say that we should not import timber, and at the same time they tell us to conserve Australian timber. If the rest of the world is being denuded of its forests, and we denude our own forests to any great extent by exporting timber, we shall soon find ourselves in trouble. During the last two years, we have exported about 80,000,000 super, feet of timber, valued at over £1,000,000. We have not imported in the same period as much oregon. Of course, we may have imported quite a large quantity of other timbers. Other countries want a great deal of Australian umber for ornamental purposes. For instance, Queensland maple, which at the present time is being converted into veneers in works at Sydney, is now finding its way to America and beating the American .timber, because of its beauty, durability, and other good qualities. On the other hand, American timber, including oregon, is valuable to us for use in oilier directions; the interchange of timbers thus brought about is quite fair. The Leader of the Opposition spoke of the use of oregon in mines. The very fact, that Oregon used in mines warns the miners of danger long before Australian timber does, exemplifies its value for every other purpose. Australian timber does not give warning, because the grain is so short that it snaps easily. The grain of the oregon is longer. Cases have been quoted where Australian timber has been tried and found wanting for mining purposes. If those statements are correct, then in such cases oregon timber must be used. Imported timbers are valuable to us for specific purposes, just as Australian timber is valuable for other specific purposes.

Senator Abbott - What place outside South Australia uses pine for mining?

Senator BADMAN - The great Broken Hill Proprietary Company does so. The Leader of the Opposition said that Australian timbers were at a disadvantage for lack of transport facilities from the forest to the mills.

Senator Collings - I said the Canadian timber had a great advantage.

Senator BADMAN - Australian timber should have a great advantage in sea freights over Canadian timber, but we can land a cargo from the north-west of Canada on the Australian coast cheaper than we can carry the same quantity from Tasmania to Adelaide. Our navigation and transport legislation handicaps the carriage of timber sawn in Queensland or Tasmania to other parts of Australia. We can import from Canada cheaper than we can from Queensland, although the distance is much greater.

I agree that we should give some protection to the local timber industry, which is a primary one, but that already given to it is greater than is being given to secondary industries, as Senator McLeay pointed out. We should be able to import the timbers that we require here at rates much lower than those now collected, even if we have to export in return some Australian timbers, which are valuable overseas. The interchange in that respect is doing us no harm. The export trade may, for a time, tend to denude Western Australia and South Australia of their' hardwood timbers, but other countries have shown that they require our woods, for certain specific purposes, whilst we require Oregon for other purposes. For these reasons I support the amendment.

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