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Tuesday, 19 December 1911

Senator O'KEEFE (Tasmania) . - I wish to refer to a statement made by Senator Rae, which, if not contradicted, might, to some extent, mislead the Committee. He spoke of the respective merits of soft and hard woods for building purposes, and having built more than one house he was naturally able to speak from personal experience. He mentioned that it was very difficult to work up hardwoods. I fancy that he must have been thinking of certain hardwoods which are grown on the mainland - ironbark or some particularly hard wood. The term " hardwood " includes a large variety of timbers which - are growing in Tasmania. The timber industry is one of the largest industries in that State. It grows many varieties of hardwood, which mostly come under the eucalyptus species. Blue gum, white gum, and stringy bark, for instance, are magnificent timbers for use in every portion of a weatherboard house. In Tasmania they are used for the flooring, the sides, the boarding, both inside and out side, and the ceiling. Of late years these native woods have been found by our builders to be tetter suited for ceilings than are the pines which previously were used almost exclusively, while for flooring the hardwoods are better than the imported pines which were used almost exclusively up to a few years ago. I would impress upon the Committee that the timber industry in Tasmania is a very large and important one. Our builders find that it is comparatively' easy to work up the native hardwood which I mentioned, though, of course, not so easy as it is to work up imported pines. Within the last year or two several varieties of Tasmanian hardwoods have been very much sought after by furniture manufacturers on the mainland. In Adelaide, for instance, a hardwood, which is called Tasmanian oak. is very largely used. It is a variety of our stringy bark. It takes a polish beautifully, and is a magnificent timber for the manufacture of many kinds of furniture. It is rapidly coming into use in large furniture factories on the mainland, and the few furniture factories in Tasmania use it almost exclusively.

Senator Rae - - Is your blackwood much used ?

Senator O'KEEFE - For many years our blackwood has had an Australian reputation. Indeed, so great has been the reputation, and so large a price has it commanded, that it is disappearing very fast. There is at present, and will be for many years to come, a tremendous industry in Tasmanian hardwoods.

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