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Thursday, 19 December 1912

Senator VARDON (South Australia) . - I have no intention of opposing the passage of this Bill. It is a very good thing to encourage the production of rock phosphates, and I trust that the industry will be successful. But I have some anxiety with respect to the wood pulp industry. I fear that it will lead to the destruction of a large amount of timber, and that efforts will not be made to replace that which is destroyed. The destruction of forests has become a very serious question in Sweden and America. Iri the United States of America, large forests have been simply wiped out by the producers of wood pulp. I have no doubt that we have timber in Australia that can be used for this purpose, but provision ought to be made for replacing trees that are destroyed. I do not know that the Commonwealth can do anything in this direction, but I am satisfied that the lack of timber will be a very serious problem in years to come. In a country like Australia we ought always to be planting trees. The State Governments have done something. Some of them have Forestry Departments. But not enough is done. I fear that under the influence of this bounty persons will go out wherever there is timber suitable for the purpose and destroy it. No effort will be made to replace it.

Senator Pearce - The States can deal with that question if they wish.

Senator VARDON - They can, but, unfortunately, they are not doing so much as they ought to do. It can be proved that the timber of a country has a very important influence upon climate. Forests have a tendency to augment warmth in winter, and have a cooling effect in summer. 1- should have been very glad if we could have made arrangements whereby our forests should not be depleted without systematic efforts being made to replace them. If forests are to be cut down in every direction, we shall make our country arid, dry, and waterless. If that should be the case the industry which we hope to establish will prove a curse in days to come. 1 admit that the object of the Bill is good, and I am glad to support it, but I have plainly expressed the fear that is in my mind. We know that the demand for the cheaper papers, which aic made from wood pulp, is increasing every day. The bounty may help to establish a good industry in Australia, but I do hope that the various States will take the matter up seriously, and see to it that our forests are not entirely depleted.

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