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Wednesday, 3 May 1961

Mr FREETH (FORREST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for the Interior) - Some time ago, the right honorable member for Cowper raised this matter and I undertook to examine the position. I found then that in fact the Department of Works specifies that Australian timber shall be used in all instances where it is suitable to be used in Govern ment works. In many instances, contractors seek variations of their contracts to enable them to use other than Australian timbers. This principally occurs in New South Wales and South Australia, largely because local timber probably costs a little more than imported Oregon does. In South Australia, the building trade generally does not carry large stocks of Australian hardwood because the whole industry is built around the use of Oregon. Because the use of Australian timber by the Commonwealth would hardly alter the pattern of the industry there but would add to costs and cause delays, a genuine request by contractors is usually accepted. However, I have asked the department to insist more rigidly that the specifications be complied with. In addition, an examination has been undertaken of the use of Australian plywood - again a relatively small matter in relation to the total usage all over Australia. I have instructed that Australian plywood and plywood from New Guinea at least should be specified and used in departmental construction.

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