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Tuesday, 17 September 1974
Page: 1118

Senator BESSELL (TASMANIA) - I ask the Minister for Agriculture: Is the immediate future of the timber industry in Tasmania at risk as a result of the Government's credit squeeze and its effect upon housing construction? Does the Minister share the concern of all the Liberal senators from Tasmania for the future of the timber, textile, and other industries in Tasmania? These industries have been afflicted by the combined results of the total failure of the Government's economic policies, together with the Government's apparent lack of concern to take any positive steps to overcome Tasmania's trade strangulation which has resulted from shipping and air transport strikes, delays and particularly cost increases.

Senator WRIEDT - The question is in several parts but I think it is best answered in a general way by indicating that Tasmania in this last financial year, like all the other States, will receive greater payments from the Australian Government than any State has received in the past. In so far as the critical area of transport is concerned, one of the first steps that this Government took was to provide a $3m subsidy for Tasmanian shipping services. It is the first time that any such step has been taken. Currently, we are awaiting the result of an inquiry into that particular aspect of Tasmania's problems. I do not think there is any foundation for the assertions made in the honourable senator's question. Basically the timber industry is strong in Tasmania. As far as I am aware the level of exports has certainly not declined and the timber industry is one of the major export earners in Tasmania. There probably has been some reduction in domestic demand for timber because of a slight decline in the rate of housing construction- but that would be all.

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