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Thursday, 26 November 1936

Senator HERBERT HAYS (Tasmania) .-Senator Hardybrought up the question of rentals paid for office accommodation for Commonwealth departments, and asked whether it would not be more desirable for the Commonwealth to erect buildings for its own use. Many such offices are leased from State governments and local authorities at very low rentals, and apart from the convenience of. such an arrangement, a considerable saving of money results.

Senator Collings - Government departments are always exploited by the private landlords.

Senator HERBERT HAYS - But not by the State governments. The present arrangement is of mutual advantage, both to the Commonwealth and the States; in many instances, if the Commonwealth did not rent the offices, they would remain vacant.

Senator Sir George Pearce - That applies particularly to offices rented by the Electoral Department.

Senator HERBERT HAYS - That is so. At the Devonport customs office only one officer is employed; at Burnie the position is the same. These officers are able to occupy suitable premises at a reasonable rental, because of the present arrangement.

It is disappointing to learn that the expectations of the Government, when it established a Commonwealth forestry bureau in Canberra have not been realized. It was understood at the time that the Government was anxious to do something of a national character; but in view of what has transpired it would appear that it was wrongly advised. The Government established a forestry school in Canberra where it was thought that students would be trained and eventually take up forestry work in the States. At the outset I opposed the establishment of a bureau in Canberra because it meant duplicating work which could be more efficiently carried out by the State authorities. I also protested against the officer in charge of operations at the bureau being designated InspectorGeneral of Forests, because I did not think that the work upon which he is engaged justified such a title. The major portion of forestry work must necessarily be carried out by the States, and the only effective way in which the Commonwealth can assist is by providing officers to conduct scientific investigations on behalf of the States.

Senator Sir George PEARCE - That is quite incorrect; we have our territories.

Senator HERBERT HAYS - I realize that, but the department in Canberra has not developed to the extent anticipated. I do not know who is actually responsible for the erection of such a costly establishment, but as the forestry work done in Canberra is not appreciated, the Government will now have to decide how the buildings and equipment can be profitably employed. Perhaps a further attempt should be made to get the State Governments to utilize the facilities available in Canberra. I trust that when the Estimates for the next financial year are under consideration the Minister will be able to submit a more encouraging statement.

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