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Wednesday, 4 December 1985
Page: 2922

Senator SANDERS(4.27) —I oppose this amendment for the reason that it would lead to the destruction of yet more rainforest timbers.

Honourable senators interjecting-

Senator SANDERS —Look at the response we get in here-a braying and snorts of derision-when someone starts talking about Australia's heritage, rainforest timbers. This chamber is lined with rainforest timbers. There is mahogony and cedar in here-beautiful timbers. Unfortunately, we cannot now find enough cedar in existence in the rainforests of Queensland to line a chamber such as this. We simply cannot find this type of cedar because it has been logged out as we had no appreciation of the native woods and trees of the country.

Senator Tate —Mr Deputy President, I take a point of order. This chamber is panelled with Tasmanian blackwood, not cedar.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —There is no point of order.

Senator SANDERS —If the honourable senator cares to do so, at a time of his convenience I will take him around and show him cedar in this chamber. I will also show him mahogony. Perhaps together we can find some fine Tasmanian blackwood. We will find the timber because it was put in this chamber many years ago. The honourable senator would be hard pressed to find the same type of blackwood or any other rainforest timber in Tasmania since the implementation of dangerous woodchipping and other exploitative policies. I point out that page 79 of a report tabled in this Parliament entitled `Rainforest Conservation in Australia' and presented to the Hon. Barry Cohen, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment, by a working group on rainforest conservation in September 1985, states:

The most significant of the areas liable to future logging are in northern Queensland, where 1986--

that is, next year--

will mark the end of an era of more than 100 years of virgin rainforest logging, as virgin areas available for logging will have been worked through.

According to this report, in 1986-one year from now-there will be no more virgin rainforests. They will have been logged through. There are also substantial areas of virgin rainforest in Tasmania, where logging has been deferred until 1988-three years from now-pending a comprehensive inventory and assessment by the State Government department. Previously in this chamber I pointed out that the State Government department in question is the Department of Forestry which has as its--

Senator Crichton-Browne —Mr Deputy President, I take a point of order. At the risk of curtailing this debate, I say that I was rather hoping that in decency we could have had a vote. I put it to you, Mr Deputy President, that although Senator Sanders might be into virgin rainforests, they are irrelevant to this debate. I ask that he confine himself to remarks relevant to the debate.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Paragraph (b) of the amendment reads:

Considers that it is appropriate for the new chamber to have a basically wood-panelled appearance, taking advantage of, and making use of the wide range of timbers to be found throughout Australia . . .

Therefore, Senator Sanders's remarks are relevant.

Senator SANDERS —Thank you. I will limit my remarks because I know that other senators wish to comment on this.

Senator Gareth Evans —We do not want to vote today. Give people an opportunity to think about it. You just keep talking.

Senator SANDERS —I will keep speaking while others discuss the merits or otherwise of coming to a vote. The point is that the chamber could be tastefully lined with some fabric or material other than wood. If it is to be lined with wood I suggest that the wood be obtained from present woodchip areas-from the logs which are now being chipped and taken to Japan. The wood could be fine Tasmanian oak. It could be other Tasmanian timbers, such as myrtle, which are being woodchipped and sent to Japan. This wood should be preserved. If the chamber must be lined with wood it should be lined with wood which is saved from the Japanese and saved from the avariciousness of the woodchip companies.