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Tuesday, 19 December 1911

Senator McGREGOR (South Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - ''-ne Government, in leaning towards the request of Senator McDougall to insert " rimu " along with white pine, is merely doing what the different sections of the timber trade really desire. I do not think there is anything in the contention that this class of timber comes into competition with Queensland or Tasmanian timber. It may be true - as Senator Givens has stated - that we have timber in Australia which is fit for almost any purpose. But the trouble is that we cannot always get at it. The cost of conveying it to the spot where it is required is often so great as to be almost prohibitive. In this connexion I may mention that in the building of the Military College it was specified that only Australian timber should be used. But notwithstanding all the cry which has been raised of the abundant supply which is available in Queensland :and other parts of the Commonwealth, a great deal of difficulty was experienced in getting it. Indeed, building operations had to be hung up for three or four months in order to secure it. Rimu is not used for the higher classes of work. It is used for the commonest and cheapest classes. I have often heard honorable senators contend that we should cater to some extent for the poorer people of Australia, and give them an opportunity to make homes for themselves, and to earn a livelihood. The conjunction of rimu with white pine is intended to confer a benefit on them, and at the same time to protect Australian timber where it can be used with advantage. I acknowledge that' "Tasmanian stringybark is manufactured into very fine furniture in South Australia, where it is known as Australian oak, and where a guarantee of two years is given in respect of its value and durability. Rimu will not come into competition with timber of that description., nor with the finer and better timbers of Queensland. I am sure that Senator de Largie and other honor- able senators from Western Australia know very well that in that State, which is the king State so far as the production of hardwood is concerned, soft timbers have to be introduced for certain purposes. I understand that at a later stage it is the intention of Senator McDougall to move a further amendment which will have the effect of restoring the Tariff on these tim bers to the position that it originally occupied. Up to the present most persons have been satisfied that the Tariff extended a fair measure of protection to Australian timber, and at the same time assisted the breaking up of foreign timbers of a certain class in the Commonwealth. Senator Givens said that we can introduce foreign timber in the log, but there are some countries that are too clever for Australia. We are prepared to export our timber in the log to any country, but New Zealand has imposed an export duty on log timber.

Senator Givens - And we are playing into the hands of New Zealand by allowing the work of breaking up log timber to be done there.

Senator McGREGOR - We might impose an export duty on log timber sent to New Zealand, but that is about the only way in which we could retaliate. There is no proposal of that kind in the Bill. I had better ,- any reference to Senator McDougall's next request until it is submitted. If it is considered necessary to go into the technicalities of the timber industry, the Minister of Defence is present, and is more capable of dealing with them than I am, or, perhaps, than some honorable senators who object to the request which has been accepted by the Government.

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