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Tuesday, 19 December 1911

Senator GIVENS (Queensland) . - Senator E. J. Russell seems to have blinded himself to the leading facts that should be before his mind in discussing this item. I wish to ask him this question : Have we not the men and the machinery in Australia to cut up timber, even if it has to be imported from foreign countries? Surely the people of Australia are capable pf doing that work. We have plenty of timber that is infinitely superior for building purposes to any that can be imported. But the chief argument that weighs with me isthat at present we allow work that ought to be available for our people to be done abroad. The question whether we have or have not the necessary timber in Australia need not enter into the discussion at all. Even if we had not a single stick of timber, I still contend that we ought to insist on imported timber coming to us in flitches or logs, in order that work might be provided for Australian workmen

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - How is it we imported last year 70,000,000 feet of timber with a 50 per cent. duty?

Senator GIVENS - That kind of argument is always put forward by Free Traders, and ought not to be used by a Protectionist.

Senator Gardiner - Importing in the log is too costly.

Senator GIVENS - I venture to say that it is much more economical to bring a load of wood in balks and flitches thanto bring it in small boards.

Senator Gardiner - If the honorable senator had any experience of loading in bulk and small parcels, he would know which was the cheaper.

Senator GIVENS - A shipping company can load a vessel with logs or balks much more economically than with single boards. If that is so, there is nothing in the contention of Senator Gardiner that it is cheaper to bring the timber here inboards. We hear a lot about natural protection ; but do honorable senators know that it costs more to take goods from port to port in Australia than it does to bring articles here from Norway, or from Puget Sound, or other places in North America.

If it is contended that the Australian workman is incompetent or incapable to dress the rough timber, I have no more to say, but those who believe that he is competent or capable will, I hope, vote to retain the increased duty.

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