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Friday, 16 March 1928

Senator HOARE (South Australia) . - During the debate on the tariff reference has been made to different types of protectionists, but I do not know in which class Senator Thompson could be placed. It is difficult to understand his fiscal views. South Australia m'ay be regarded as the Cinderella State of the Commonwealth in the matter of timber supplies; but I am not so concerned about the effect that duties will have on a particular State as I am about their effect on the whole Commonwealth. I intend to support the duties proposed in this item, as I think they will be of advantage to the people as a whole

Senator Thompson - Higher timber duties will increase the cost of workmen's homes.

Senator HOARE - The honorable senator follows a peculiar line of reasoning. He is prepared to give increased protection to the glucose industry because maize is largely grown in his own State ; but he gives no thought to the added cost of confectionery due to the higher duties imposed on glucose. He takes' a different stand with regard to the request for increased protection for the timber industry. Senator Kingsmill also is inconsistent. He poses as a staunch advocate of re-afforestation, upon which he advocates the expenditure of many millions of pounds; yet yesterday he protested against increased duties being imposed on timber imported from Borneo, where, I remind him, only coolie labour is employed.

Senator Guthrie - That also may be said of timber grown in the Philippines.

Senator HOARE -That is so. Senator Kingsmill professes to be a supporter of the White Australia policy. If he is sincere in that belief, why is he not prepared to give protection to this Australian industry against timber grown in cheap coloured labour countries?

Senator Thompson - Honorable senators on this side are suggesting a fair thing in the way of protection, which is more than the honorable senator is doing.

Senator HOARE - These are duties which Senator Thompson might very well support. Senator Kingsmill said not long ago that if we shut out supplies of timber from other countries there will be a danger of timber supplies in Australia becoming exhausted.

Senator Kingsmill - I did not say that, but I propose to do so.

Senator HOARE - T have no doubt that Senator Kingsmill will change his views on. this subject when it suits him to do so. .Mr. L. G. Irby, the Conservator of Forests in Tasmania, in his evidence before the Tariff Board in 1925. said -

Of the balance of timber land in Tasmania, 700,000 acres should be a conservative estimate. As the bulk of this is unexplored, let us consider 10.000 feet to the acre as the yield. This gives 7,000,000,000 super, feet in the round, which with a' 50 per cent, reduction, conversion works out at 3,500.000.000 feet of timber. Therefore, on these figures, the total yield of sawn timber on leased and unleased areas would bo 5,500,000,000 super, feet. ... It will be seen that on a very conservative estimate the present rate of timber cut in Tasmania (hardwoods! can be largely increased without risk of a future timber famine. In fact, it is safe to assume that the present cut could be doubled.

The Queensland forestry report for 1926 dealing with the hardwood resources of that State contains the following statement -

There are large untapped resources of semihardwoods and fancy woods -in Queensland of which greater use should be made, sufficient indeed to serve any particular objects catered for by imports from Czecho-Slovakia. Japan and other countries. There are 00,000.000 idle feet of red satinay on Fraser Island, and 00,000,000 idle feet of grey and red satin ash on the Bungella Range near Mackay. There are untold millions of feet of tulip oak in the forests of the west coast line.

Mr. Lane Poole,when he was Conservator of Forests in "Western Australia, made the following statement concerning the position in that State: -

Between 500,000 and 750,000 tons of utilizable wood are being burned by sawmillers every year, and this destruction is mainly due to the quantity of small sizes not required. If there were a proper duty, these sizes would be of commercial value. I should wel- come a revision of the tariff, and would like to see so heavy a duty placed on imported woods so as to force the community throughout Australia to use its own wood.

Senator Thompson - Why not quote more recent opinions?

Senator HOARE - These are recent opinions. Sincere protectionists should offer no objection to these increased duties. Let us be honest in the expression of our convictions, whether we be protectionists or freetraders. Our purpose should be to impose such duties as will ensure the establishment of industries in Australia on a sound footing.

Senator Chapman - We must consider the effect-on all sections of the people.

Senator HOARE - Did the honorable senator take that view the other day, when we passed an item imposing a duty on butter from Great Britain.

Senator Chapman - But the timber industry already is protected to the extent of far more than 25 per cent.

Senato'r HOARE. - If existing tariffs are not high enough to protect the local industries, we should be prepared to vote for higher duties. South Australia, in 1897, established a ' pine plantation for commercial purposes. At the end of last year upwards of 28,000 acres had been planted out in softwoods. In his evidence before the Tariff Board a representative of the South Australian Government stated -

It is urged that the tariff protection of locally-grown pine timber should be continued. At present over 0,000,000 super, feet of beautiful pine timber is waiting to be cut. but the Government is unable to dispose of same owing to the keen competition of imported timber.

The late Mr. Walter Gill, F.L.S.. who was Conservator of Forests in South Australia, in his evidence before the Interstate Conference on Forestry, said that South Australian locally-grown pine had proved very satisfactory for the construction of the framework of houses, stables and sheds, and also as weatherboards, floorings and linings, and, when varnished, had a most effective polish. The federal executive of the Australian Timber Workers' Union, in supporting the increased duties, urged all its members to vote for .the further protection of the timber industry, so that it could be stabilized in the interests of from 20.000 to 30,000 employees. What will happen to. our reafforestation schemes if we allow the importation of timber from cheap labour countries?

Senator Kingsmill - Can the honorable senator say how long it takes to make an afforestation scheme effective?

Senator HOARE - I understand that pine trees become marketable in about 25 years.

Senator Thompson - The Conservator of Forests in Queensland recommends the importation of large quantities of foreign timber in order to conserve the growing forests in that State for 30 years.

Senator HOARE - South Australian forests date from 1879. Already a considerable acreage of the Wirrabarra forest has been cut, and the timber utilized for the making of export fruit boxes.

Sitting suspended from 12.46 to 2.15.

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