25 November 1927

10th Parliament · 1st Session

The President (Senator the Hon Sir

John Newlands) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.

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Senator FINDLEY:

asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. On what date was the Royal Commission on National Insurance appointed?
  2. On what date did the commission conclude its inquiries and furnish its final report?
  3. What was the total expenditure incurred in connexion with such commission?
  4. What was the total amount (including fees and travelling expenses) paid to the chairman of the commission (Senator J. D. Millen) ?

– The right honorable the Prime Minister has supplied the following replies -

  1. 7th September, 1923.
  2. The commission completed its inquiries and presented its report on the 11th March, 1927, but the matter will not be finalized until the negotiations which Senator J. D. Millen is conducting on behalf of the Government with the friendly societies and the British Medical Association have been completed and dealt with.
  3. and 4. This information is being collected and will be furnished as early as possible.

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Report of Development and Migration Commission

Senator GRAHAM:

asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -

  1. With reference to the gold-mining industry, so far as Kalgoorlie and Gwalia are concerned, is the recommendation of the Development and Migration Commission, as contained on page 23 of their report, the full recommendation of the commission?
  2. If not, will the Minister supply the Senate with an exact copy of the commission’s report on this matter?
  3. If not, why?
  1. to 3. The recommendations of the Development’ and Migration Commission regarding the gold-mining industry as at present available are contained in the interim report of the commission on this subject which was tabled in the Senate yesterday. A further general report on the whole of the gold-mining industry of Australia is now in course of preparation by the commission and will be issued as soon as possible.

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Senator DUNCAN:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that the contract made with Sleigh and Company for thesupply of shipping services to the Northern Territory has been terminated? ,
  2. If so, what were the reasons for such termination?
  3. Have Sleigh and Company been compensated for the termination of the contract; and if so, what was the amount of compensation agreed upon?
  4. Is it intended to call for fresh tenders for this service?
  5. If not, what are the Government’s intentions with regard to the provision of an adequate service for North Australia!

– The Minister for Home and Territories has supplied the following replies : -

  1. Yes.
  2. The contract was terminated by mutual agreement as from the 31st March, 1927.
  3. No. 4 and 5. fresh services have been arranged by the North Australia Commission covering, respectively, the western ports of the Territory and the eastern ports of the Territory. The former commenced in April last, and the latter in the following month.

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Senator J B HAYES:

asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice - 1.Has the Minister seen a press report , to the effect that a joint committee of both Houses of the New Zealand Parliament has recommended that negotiations be entered into with the Commonwealth Government with a view to the establishment of a shipping service between the southern ports - of New Zealand and Australia?

  1. If these negotiations arc entered into, will he insist that Hobart shall be a port of call?

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The right honorable the Prime Minister has furnished the following replies : -

  1. No.
  2. Any representation made by the New Zealand Government will, of course, be given consideration.

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Assisted and Nominated Passages

Senator SAMPSON:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Markets and Migration, upon notice-

  1. What was the amount of money placed on the Estimates for each of the financial years 1922-23, 1923-24, 1924-25, 1925-26, and i 020-27 for assisted passages from Great Britain to the Commonwealth?
  2. What were the amounts actually expended each year for this purpose?
  3. In the case of nominated passages, is there any age limit which debars a migrant from receiving the British and Australian Governments’ grants towards passage money, even though accompanied by his or her family? .

– The information will be obtained and supplied as early as possible.

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Senator GRANT:

asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -

  1. When is it intended to proclaim the Bankruptcy Act?
  2. Is it a fact that many more amendments to the Act are necessary, and, if so, when is thu amending bill to be introduced?
Honorary Minister · SOUTH AUSTRALIA · NAT

– The honorable the Attorney-General has furnished the following replies: -

  1. It is hoped to proclaim the Act early next year.
  2. No.

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Bill (on motion by Senator Mclachlan) read a third time.

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Second Reading

Debate resumed from 3rd November (vide page 918) on motion by Senator Sir William Glasgow -

That the bill be now read a second time.

Senator NEEDHAM:
Western Australia

– I realize that in dealing with this bill, we are getting out of the stormy waters of party warfare and are -able to address ourselves to a matter concerning which there is not a great difference of opinion. Throughout Australia the public conscience is being awakened to the necessity for preserving and developing our timber resources. If there is any difference of opinion in the matter, it is as to why so late a start has been made with the establishment of a Forestry Bureau. The history of this country, so far as the treatment of its forests is concerned, probably does not differ greatly from that of other countries. Australia possesses timbers of first-class quality which are eminently suited not only for the building of our homes but also for their decoration. They can be used in any class of constructional work, both above and below the surface of the ground. When manufactured into furniture or used for decorative purposes, Australian timber is a thing of beauty, and a joy for ever. Unfortunately, this valuable asset has been ruthlessly and recklessly squandered, and to-day we are paying the penalty of our folly. There has been no systematic treatment of this valuable source of wealth. In a young country like Australia, still in its developmental stages, softwoods are essential; yet we have not made provision for continuous supplies of this class of timber. The establishment of a Forestry School, which this bill proposes, will, it is hoped, remedy that state of affairs. The Australian School of Forestry will do valuable work in training the young, mind of Australia in the preservation and development of its forest wealth. The result should be the creation and preservation of a forest conscience which is most desirable. The students who will pass through the school will return to the several States whence they came and assist to develop their timber resources to the advantage of those States and of the Empire generally. I realize that the progress of this new school of forestry must necessarily be slow at first. I understand that there are already 16 students from all the States in the school. That, I consider, is a very satisfactory beginning. I had the opportunity yesterday morning, at the opening of the school, to meet some of those students, and I feel sure that before long Australia will have reason to be proud of them and of their work in connexion with reafforestation. The importance of a forestry school can scarcely be overestimated. It is, unfortunately, true; as was pointed out by the Minister in his second-reading speech, that because of the ruthless treatment of our virgin forests in Western Australia, the export of jarrah is in danger of ceasing entirely. The value of that timber alone is incalculable. Properly controlled, our forests would support a population eight or nine times greater than that of Australia to-aay. It is, therefore, necessary that we hasten to make amends for our past neglect and shameful squandering of this great source of natural wealth. I do not know whether the curriculum of the forestry school will include the seasoning of Australian timber. Whilst we possess the timber wealth of which I have spoken-

Senator Herbert Hays:

– At present it is unmarketable wealth.

Senator NEEDHAM:

– Some of it is, but I believe that the difficulties of marketing will eventually be satisfactorily overcome. It has been found that the method by which Australian timbers are seasoned seriously interferes with their use in connexion with building operations. It is gratifying to note that the forestry school is not to be under the sole control of the Commonwealth, but that the Commonwealth in conjunction with the six State Governments is to be responsible for its work. This shows that the State authorities are willing to co-operate in an endeavour to improve our forest areas. In setting out on a policy of forest conservation, we are fortunate in having the services of Mr. Lane-Poole as Inspector-General of Forests. I have not had the ‘opportunity of meeting that gentleman, but I have read of his work and believe that, with the extensive scientific knowledge he possesses, his services in that capacity will be of inestimable value to the Commonwealth. It would I believe be difficult to obtain the assistance of any one with more scientific knowledge of the subject, powers of application, and enthusiasm than Mr. LanePoole. Although we are practically in our swaddling clothes in the matter of forestry, and have made mistakes in the past I feel sure we shall benefit from the experience we have already gained. The scheme to be established under this measure will be of benefit to the people generally and to the whole of the Commonwealth.

Minister for Defence · Queensland · NAT

. - I am pleased that this measure has the approval of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham), and apparently, that of the Senate generally, since no other honorable senator has shown a desire to discuss its provisions at this stage. It is peculiarly appropriate that the opening ceremony in connexion with the forestry school should so closely synchronize with the introduction of this measure. If we are all sincere in our desire to have an effective forestry policy it is essential that we should train the necessary officers. That is now being done. We have already sixteen pupils at the school, and in the near future they will be able to render valuable assistance to the Commonwealth in connexion with our afforestation policy.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read n second time.

In committee -

Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 -

The Governor-General may -

Establish a Forestry Bureau; and

Appoint an officer called the In spector-General of Forests and such other officersas are necessary for the purposes of this act. . . .

Amendment (by Senator Sir William Glasgow) agreed to -

That the following now sub-clause be added - “ (2) The appointment of all permanent officers required for the purposes of this act shall be made under and in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1922-24.”

Senator NEEDHAM:
Western Australia

– As Clause4 provides that the Inspector-General shall have charge of the Bureau, and, subject to the direction of the minister, shall be charged with the administration of the act, I should like to know if the permanent officers will be appointed by the GovernorGeneral in Council, or the InspectorGeneral of Forests?

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.By the Governor General.

Clause as amended, agreed to.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 -

The Powers and functions of the bureau shall…… be-

Senator SAMPSON:

– It will be admitted that the care of our existing forests has been so neglected that many of them are at present in a chaotic state; but I am very hopeful that the step now being made to restore order will have the desired effect. I am, however, not over-sanguine, because practically all the schemes in which the Commonwealth engages in co-operation with the States have not been a success. The establishment of a forestry bureau should assist to some extent in solving the problems with which we are faced, particularly in having large supplies of over-matured hardwoods such as are found in Tasmania. As much of this valuable timber is at present not being properly utilized, it may be regarded as only a waste product. It is not surprising that the timber industry in Tasmania is languishing, when one realizes the large quantities of timber that are being imported from the United States of America, ‘Canada, Sweden, Norway, and even the Philippine Islands. The policy of the timber-getter is simplicity itself. He cuts what he wants and leaves the balance, which is often a menace, and likely to cause fires. The waste timber products of Europe are fully utilized, but in Australia they are not put to any commercial use, although we are hoping that it will not be long before the paper pulp industry is established in the Commonwealth. That is one of the problems to which the Inspector-General of Forests should devote his attention. If a use can be found for small hardwood timber, crooked boles, and even the leaves, which would enable those possessing areas on which timber is growing to obtain a satisfactory return for their product our problem- will be solved. We have vast quantities of magnificent timber in Australia, a good deal of which is not being used for commercial purposes. During the war period we had prohibition of imports and we found that we could use our own timbers in various ways previously untried. When further development occurs we should be able to absolutely prohibit the importation of timber, as the result of huge imports of cheap baltic dressed timber we are having a very hard time with our weatherboards, lining and flooring. Some people maintain that it is a good thing for us to have this flood of timber coming in from overseas. It is said that in a few years the world will be faced with a timber famine, and that when that time comes, Australia not having utilized its present resources, will be in a good position to supply the requirements of the world. I do not think that argument will hold good. Mr. LanePoole, when he was Conservator of Forests in Western Australia, dealt with this aspect of the question, and said : -

Between 500,000 and 750,000 tons of utilizable woods are being burned by sawmillers every year. This destruction is mainly due to. the quantity of small sizes not required, if there were a proper duty, these sizes would be of commercial value. 1 should welcome a revision of the tariff, and would like to see so heavy a duty placed on imported woods as to force thu community throughout Australia to use its own woods, and make the use of imported woods a luxury only possible to the rich.

His views coincide with mine in that respect. Mr. R. D. Hay, one of the Forestry Commission of New South Wales, writing on the 14th May, 1926, said -

Closing up forests to recuperate, mid importing timber to relieve the demand on them:

Any one advocating this is plainly unaware of the present condition of our native resources. The forests, generally, are in :i position demanding treatment to make them more productive. A great deal of the contained supply includes over-mature and damaged trees which have passed the stage of utility and require to be destroyed, or disposed of if a market can be found for the material, in order to make room for something more valuable, in thu shape of -i new crop to take their place. The forester’s job is to take the abnormal natural forest and, by management, to transpose it into a normal one, and in so doing, its prospective yield can be at least doubled and very often trebled. You see how important this attention is when we have admittedly a limited forest area. If the yield of each acre can be increased by only .100 per cent., it means, in effect doubling our forest area.

Mr. L. G. Irby, Conservator of Forests in Tasmania, giving evidence before- the Tariff Board on the 15th April, 1925, said -

I have heard it argued by people who have not studied deeply the forestry question of Australia, that it is a good thing that we are able to get all this imported timber from foreign countries in order to save our own forests. I do not think we aru saving our own forests. I think you can travel all over Australia and you cannot see where we are saving our own forests. So that if the importations are tending to save our own forests, we are not doing it. I claim the very opposite is happening.

I trust that one of the first tasks of the Forestry Bureau will be to get the best out of our own forests. In Tasmania we could double the cut and still hare plenty of timber in sight for the next ninety years. From the way in which the second reading was agreed to, it is obvious that honorable senators consider this bill a step in the right direction. I welcome the establishment of the bureau and I trust that the hopes expressed at the opening of the School of Forestry yesterday will be realized. The point touching upon the need for marketing the overproduction of our forests is vital and has not received the attention it deserves.

Senator FOLL:

.- I had intended to offer a few observations on the motion for the ‘ second reading of this bill, but my temporary, though unavoidable, absence from the chamber on public duty “ prevented me from doing so. I should like the Minister to explain the relationship between the Forestry Bureau established by this bill, and the established Schools of Forestry in the different States. According rr, the Commonwealth Year-Boole -

Forestry schools have been established in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia, in which general scientific instruction is imparted, special attention being paid to forestry. In the classes, theoretical forestry, botany, geology, physics, land surveying, &c, are taught; while in outside work trainees receive practical instruction in the preparation of seed-beds, seed-sowing, propagation, planting out, pruning, the general care and improvement of plantations and natural forests, and the employment of timber to the best advantage. Courses of lectures are also given at various centres, and, at some of the higher technical schools, members of the forest staffs are afforded opportunities of qualifying in special subjects.

It is my hope that the Commonwealth Forestry Bureau will become a big success, because I think the work which is proposed to be done is something’ that must be undertaken in Australia. At the same time, we are all anxious to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort and I should like to know if, with the establishment of a Forestry School in the Federal

Capital Territory, it is the intention of the Commonwealth, to take over the whole of the responsibility for forestry training in Australia?


– I do not know whether the functions of the Forestry Bureau will be confined to federal territory or whether its services may be made available to the States. As honorable senators who have spoken to the bill have said “that they regard the establishment of a Commonwealth Forestry Bureau as a step in the right direction, I suppose it may bp said that the bureau has been launched with the blessing of the Senate ; but I sincerely hope that it will not be simply another department surrounding itself with a number of officials and setting up expensive machinery to do scientific work only, when there is so much to be done on the practical side. I have nothing to say against the scientific side of the work because I recognise the great part that science must play in the development of our industries; but looking back over the experience of many years, I think that if I had to make a choice between the scientist and the practical man, unless T could get the services of a scientist who had also substantial practical knowledge, I should choose for my guidance the man with a practical knowledge. I have no desire to reflect upon the gentleman who is to be at the head of this department, but the report he made on the forests of Tasmania after a very brief visit to the State, was sufficient indication to those who knew the conditions in Taa- . mania and knew its forests particularly well, that if he had* spent more time on his investigation he would perhaps have come to -a rather different lionellusion. The suggestion that our forests should be conserved when we know that in every forest timber is reaching the stage of maturity at which it must be cut or else it will deteriorate, and that we should go through the forests in a systematic way and remove only the matured timber, leaving the other timber to reach the same period of development, is utterly impracticable. We have mon in Tasmania of the second, third and fourth generation who have devoted their lives entirely to timber. The head of this department should seek the advice of many of those men. It seems to me most extraordinary that we should be asked to develop a Forestry Bureau with a view to paying due regard to afforestation when we have our own natural forests developing and awaiting the market. At present it is not an economic proposition to market our own timbers without assistance. Australia is importing huge quantities of softwoods that she should be producing. Under a properly organized system of forestry, foreign countries are able to place their product in Australia at a rate at which we are not able to compete.

Senator Foll:

– They are apparently growing a type of tree which vi cannot grow.


– This is an economic problem that the present or some future government will have to tackle in real earnest. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) has deplored ‘ the destruction of our forests. The whole question is, can we develop our forests under the conditions that obtain in Australia, and market the product in competition with imported timbers ? So far it has been shown conclusively that we cannot. If we wish to assist forestry we must pay duc regard to the economic side of the problem and either place our product on the market

At a lower price or give adequate protection to those who are engaged in the industry. This is only one of scores of in dustries that are unable to compete with outsiders on an economic basis.

Senator GRANT (New South Wales) 1 11.50 1 . - A study of the last Commonwealth Year Book issued has revealed to me the fact that Australia is the most sparsely timbered country in the world, only about 24,500,000 acres being under forests. We have no information respecting the average number of trees to the acre, but it should be approximately 120. Therefore there are nearly 500 trees to each member of the community. I have not gathered from the bill the impression that it intended to take energetic steps to reafforest large areas that at present are of little value and upon which timber may be grown extensively. I assume that an effort will be made to ascertain where soft timbers can be grown. The scarcity of that timber is our great drawback and necessitates the importation of large quantities. The heavy taxation that is placed upon imported timbers does not keep them out but on the contrary in creases the price and makes building more costly.

Senator Herbert Hays:

– Does the honorable senator suggest that if we hail the softwoods we should be able to compete on a commercial basis with Baltic pine ?

Senator GRANT:

– There is no reason why softwoods should not be grown in Australia, and placed upon the market at a price which would enable them to compete with Baltic pine.

Senator Herbert Hays:

– If that is the intention of the Government we should defeat the bill.

Senator GRANT:

– The extraordinaryquantity of soft timber that is being imported arrests attention. Last year the number of superficial feet was in the region of 600,000,000. It does not require a genius to show us that to that extent the Australian timbers are not used. I am sure that th;>sc who pin their faith to high duties will be delighted at the prospect of a further instalment of our great national policy of protection. That will not hasten the millenium; its only effect will be a greater revenue. I should like steps to be taken to establish extensive nurseries in the various States and to have areas that are now unoccupied and valueless planted with soft timbers, so that we should always have a supply on hand. Much of the flooring timber used in the Commonwealth comes from Sweden, and the great bulk of ou.softwoods from Canada and the United States of America. If the passage of this measure will lead to our having in 50 years’ time a plentiful supply of marketable softwoods, it will be a step ir the right direction. In those portions of Great Britain that are not suitable for agricultural purposes the owners of the land take care that it does not remain idle*, they establish nurseries, and in the season plant out millions of young trees. This practice has furnished Great Britain with a fair supply of soft timbers. A peculiarity about a tree, that is common also to life plants, is that it grows while the planter is asleep. I do not think it is possible to use Australian hardwoods in competition; with foreign softwoods unless the latter arc handicapped by an enormously heavy tariff. It is questionable whether it is in the best interests of the whole of the people that housing costs should be increased, as they certainly would be if hardwoods were used exclusively. If we encourage landholders to grow timber -on their areas and later dispose of it to saw-millers, we must be prepared to face the extra cost that will be involved. No person appreciates to a greater extent than I do the quality and the durability of the Australian hardwoods. They are unequalled.’ I am not in possession of information which would enable me to say what the add ,tional cost would be if Oregon were used exclusively in the building of an ordinary -house; but in larger buildings it would amount to a great deal. It is impossible to use Australian hardwood in frames for the erection of concrete buildings, because it shrinks and warps very badly. Oregon, on the other hand, is in every way suited to that purpose. I do not know whether it is intended eventually to exclude the importation of Oregon, but I suppose we shall come to that in time. I trust that branches of the school will be formed in the several states. I presume also that the bureau will recommend the setting aside of suitable areas for the cultivation of softwood timbers which should be millable in 50 to 60 years.

Senator Herbert Hays:

– The honorable senator is an optimist.

Senator GRANT:

– Areas planted now should be marketable in about 50 years time. Certain areas in Great Britain that were cut during the Crimean war were replanted and cut again during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. Having been replanted they were cut again during the last war, .German prisoners of war being employed for that purpose. In Great Britain marketable timber can be produced in about 40 years, so we may expect similar results in Australia. I am glad to know that the Government is taking a comprehensive view of Australia’s timber requirements. In establishing the Forestry Bureau it is proposing to do something to benefit posterity.

Senator NEEDHAM:
Western Australia

– Under clause 5 authority is given to the proposed bureau to establish experimental stations for the study of sylviculture, forest management and forest protection. Has the Ministry come to an arrangement with the State governments for the establishment of experimental stations in the several States, and if so, will they be erected and maintained at the expense of the Commonwealth? Sufficient information concerning the details of this scheme was n’ot given by the Minister in his second readingspeech. We have not been fully informed concerning the provision to be made for the training of professional foresters, though obviously paragraph d of clause 5 postulates that something will’ be done in addition to the establishment of the bureau. Probably there will be the government subsidiary schools in the several States and also in territories controlled by the Commonwealth. If so, will instruction be given to the students by means of correspondence from the central school in the Federal Capital Territory? I should like also to know if provision is to be made for the seasoning of timber. Strictly speaking, this may not be within the province of the Forestry Bureau, but certainly it would be an important adjunct to the general scheme.

Senator PAYNE:

.- I do not wish this clause to pass without making some remarks concerning the general principles of the bill. Special attention is now being given to afforestation throughout the world. The position in Australia is somewhat contradictory. Despite the fact that we have extensive forests of millable timber, we are not able to utilize it largely because of the condition imposed upon timber millers by the laws of this country. This legislation has an important bearing upon the Government’s proposal to establish a forestry bureau. We have large areas which are eminently suited for afforestation purposes. I presume that the bureau will not give its attention to increasing the production of hardwoods^ because, as I have stated already we have enormous quantities of that class of timber. It is reasonable to assume that the bureau will, in the main, confine its attention to the planting of those varieties of timber which are not at present grown in commercial quantities in this country. I fully appreciate the earnestness and the ability of the officer who, I understand, is to be appointed Inspector-General of Forests under this bill. In the debate on this measure senators should consider carefully whether the areas to be planted will be commercially valuable. I am afraid that any afforestation scheme carried out entirely under Australian conditions will be doomed to failure. The cost of preparing the plantations and the expenditure necessary for their maintenance will be too great. It has been suggested that the difficulty I mention might be overcome by establishing, on the various forestry reserves, schools for the education and training of youths from Great Britain. These lads, at the end of their period of training, could be absorbed in the agricultural population of the Commonwealth. In this way it might be possible to keep down the cost of afforestation and at the same time increase the population of the Commonwealth. I believe that the restrictions imposed upon the scheme by Australian labour conditions and wages will make it commercially unsound, and unless there is a great alteration with regard to our present fiscal policy, we shall not be able to find a market for the timber when it reaches maturity. I do not wish in any way to deprecate this proposal to train foresters, and to establish forests in this country; but I deprecate the expenditure of the enormous sum of money which the scheme will involve unless the Government can give us an assurance that such expenditure will furnish a reasonable return. I hope that the Government will give this matter serious consideration. It would be folly to establish a department which must cost a considerable sum of money unless we are likely to get an adequate return from it. It is not my wish to throw cold water on the scheme, but it must be obvious that in formulating a scheme of this- description it is advisable to look at least 20 years ahead. Surely it is time we put our house in order so far as this valuable asset is concerned. In dealing with this matter we should do well not to overlook the economic aspect.

Senator LYNCH:
Western Australia

.-The lack of hostility to this measure is an indication that honorable senators generally welcome its introduction. There is, however, a danger, that owing to lack of system, we may not accomplish that which we desire. The committee has already agreed to a clause to place the Bureau of Forestry under the control of an Inspector-General of Forestry. We frequently hear the complaint that the present position of Australia, so far as the development of her forest resources is concerned, is due to lack of foresight on the part of past generations. It is easy to condemn those who have gone before us; that seems a habit of every generation. We should be Aviso not to over-estimate ourselves in this generation, but to leave, the verdict to those who will follow us. It is true that our pioneer settlers sacrificed, forests in order that agricultural pursuits might be followed, but I feel that to a great extent they had no alternative. That mistakes have been made in the past, is, however, no justification for this generation not taking steps to improve existing conditions. If ever a government had a warrant for the establishment of a new department at the expense of the taxpayers, the present Government has one in connexion with a new department to deal with forestry matters. Our existing timber resources should be protected and developed, and further areas placed under cultivation. The danger I see is that the work may not proceed along systematic lines. A bureau of forestry is to be created, and given enormous powers; but it is to be under the control of an Inspector-General of Forests. I take it that the members of the bureau will have some knowledge of forestry and be competent to carry out the functions of a forestry bureau. In that case, what necessity is there for the InspectorGeneral of Forests to control the bureau?

Senator McLachlan:

– The honorable senator is evidently of the opinion that the bureau will be a body apart from the Inspector-General of Forests. That is not so. The Inspector-General of Forests will occupy a position similar to that of the head of a department; the members of the bureau will work with him and be subject to his direction.

Senator LYNCH:

– Should there be a strong difference of opinion between the Inspector-General and the other members, that would not be conducive to efficient working. An important duty for which the bureau will he responsible is the collection and distribution of forest information. I regard that as one of the most important functions which this new body will be called upon to perform. Before much can be done in forestry matters, a forest conscience must be developed. It is always unwise to legislate in opposition to public opinion.

Minister for Defence · Queensland · NAT

[12.30]. - I regret that some honorable senators were deprived of the opportunity to speak on the second reading of the bill ; but I rose to reply only because no other honorable senator appeared to be anxious to continue the debate. During the early stages of Australian development the people were very extravagant in the use of timber.

SenatorCarroll. - They still are.

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.Yes, and their carelessness in those days is largely responsible for the absence of useful timber on some of our forest lands. Senator Payne referred to the fact that certain timbers produced in Australia cannot be profitably sold in open competition with imported timber. I should like to inform him that we cannot expect to derive the full benefit of our afforestation scheme for at least 50 or 60 years. If in the course of that time we used our timber reserves without planting additional trees the whole country would be denuded of forests. Those undertaking afforestation on private lands do not hope to derive any return during their lifetime, and in most cases it is the grandchildren who will reap the advantage. In the case of forests on Crown lands the nation gets the benefit, and any replanting now undertaken will be in the interests of future generations. Senator Lynch is afraid that under this measure there is a possibility of conflict arising between the inspector-general and the bureau; but the inspector-general and his officers constitute the bureau.

Senator Lynch:

– Then why is it called a bureau?

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.It cannot be called a forestry “department “, as it is under the Home and Territories Department. Senator Foll asked if it is intended to open other forestry schools, seeing that schools have been established in Western Australia, New South Wales, and South Australia. The schools in those States have now been closed, and the work which they undertook will now be done at the bureau.

Senator Foll:

– Are the States meeting any portion of the cost?

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.No, all the fees, for instance, are paid by the Commonwealth. The States provide the students with subsistence allowances to cover cost of living. At present there is a school at Creswick, in Victoria, where the standard of work is not as high as it is at Canberra; but the best students’ are being sent from Creswick to the forestry school here.

Senator Foll:

– Does the State Government guarantee them employment?

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.In all cases they will be found employment in the various States forestry departments, for they are State Government nominees. The bureau will function only in the Federal Territory except at the request of the States’ forestry departments, which when necessary will have the assistance of officers from the bureau. The training which the students will receive will be of a practical nature.

Senator Herbert Hays:

– Will it include the economic marketing of timber?

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.Yes; from the time the tree is planted until it is finally marketed as the finished product. Senator Herbert Hays referred to importations of timber. Importations from the Baltic represent only 12 per cent. of the total, the bulk of which are Oregon and redwood. The imports of Oregon and redwood are exceedingly large. We. must, however, have softwoods, and until we produce our own requirements in that respect, supplies must be imported. We’ need not worry concerning the competition of softwoods then, because by the time our forests are developed there is not likely to be any in the countries from which they are now imported.

Senator Herbert Hays:

– But those countries are devoting similar attention to afforestation.


– Even so, the fact that they are planting extensively will mean that prices will be higher than they now are, with natural supplies to draw upon, and consequently competition is not likely to be keen. The Association for the Advancement of Science asked the bureau to undertake research work which cannot be carried on in State departments. At present a proper experimental station has not been provided for. Seasoning is an important subject, and is at present being investigated by the Forests Products Laboratory. In regard to Senator Payne’s question there are 24,500,000 acres of forest land in Australia, of this only 2,500,000 acres are for growing softwoods, the balance will be used in the production of hardwoods. The honorable senator also referred to the possibility of work being found for young migrants in connexion with afforestation; that is a matter which is at present receiving the consideration of the Development and Migration Commission. Sitting suspended from 145 to 2.15 p.m.

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) 1 2.15]. - I see no mention in this clause of any attempt to work in conjunction and in close co-operation with the several State Forestry Departments. There are many matters of mutual interest in regard to which it would be to the public advantage for the Commonwealth Bureau to act in co-operation with State bureaux. In other branches of Commonwealth activity this co-operation has proved to be very valuable. For example, in regard to public’ finance and electoral and taxation matters, the Commonwealth cooperates with the States, in order to avoid duplication, and secure economy. We also seek the assistance of State law departments in the administration of Commonwealth statutes. In the Housing Bill we have given power to the Commonwealth to utilize State instrumentalities to bring to a more successful conclusion the work of the Commonwealth Savings Bank.. In all of our public activities there is a tendency to co-operate with’ the State authorities, and, in order to swing this bill and the institution it proposes to bring into existence, into line with the spirit of cooperation, I move -

That after paragraph g the following new paragraph be inserted: - “ to keep in close touch and active cooperation with the Forestry Departments of the States on all matters of mutual interest.”

That paragraph might be regarded by some as merely a pious aspiration; but, even if it be rightly classed as such the principle for which it provides must be of great value to the Commonwealth Forestry Bureau and the bureaux of the States. The accumulated knowledge and experience, and the resources at the command of the Commonwealth Bureau, ought to be made available to the State bureaux, and vice versa. We ought to hold out the olive branch to the States, saying, “ We are establishing a new bureau, but we do not want it to live in isolated grandeur on a mountain top inaccessible to you. We realize that it is a bureau that will prove of advantage to the people of Australia, and we want the closest touch to be instituted and maintained between our bureau and yours.” Mr. Amery, on his recent visit, emphasized the need for mutual help and co-operation. If we isolate the Commonwealth Forestry Bureau, as one is led to believe is intended by this bill, it will not be able to promote that spirit of cooperation which every man of advanced thought concedes is necessary. In no no case is it more necessary than between the Commonwealth Forestry Bureau and the six other forestry bureaux operating in the States.

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [2.24]. - I am quite in accord with the spirit of the amendment. The Commonwealth Government has already shown that it is prepared to co-operate with the States in every possible direction. In connexion with the establishment .of the Commonwealth Forestry Bureau we have achieved a certain amount of coordination by bringing the tuition of forestry students into one school, instead of four. Three of the State schools are now closed,.- and the higher grade students in the fourth attend the school of forestry at Canberra. There is already a certain amount of co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States of Tasmania and South Australia, and it is hoped when this bill becomes law to secure co-operation with the other States. The knowledge and experience of the officials of the Commonwealth Bureau will always be available to the State Forestry Departments, and the Commonwealth Bureau will welcome every possible cooperation with the State departments. Although I do not think that it will be necessary to add to the clause the paragraph proposed by Senator Lynch, what the honorable senator proposes may be done by regulation. I shall be pleased to draw the attention of the Minister for Home and Territories to the remarks of the honorable senator with that end in view.


– I think that the clause should remain as it stands until a request for co-operation in regard to this particular legislation is made by the States, whose Forestry Departments are doing good work. If it is shown that, in order to enable the Commonwealth and the State departments to work together, further statutory power is necessary, this Parliament can amend the measure now before the Senate.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 6 (Regulations).

Senator HERBERT HAYS (Tasmania “[2.29]. - It seems to me that in regard to a great deal of our legislation too much is to be left to regulations. To my mind the statute itself should contain the full scope of the authority given to the administration. It is not right to pass a skeleton bill like this, and, under the clause which authorizes the GovernorGeneral to make regulations, give much wider powers to the Government than are contemplated by Parliament when the bill is passed. Under a bill such as this, extended powers may be given and the bureau may function solely in accordance with regulations.

Minister for Defence · Queensland · NAT

[2.32]. - I do not agree with the honor-able senator that the power to make regu lations conferred by the clause is very wide. The regulations must be within the scope of the bill itself. It would be very difficult in the measure itself to make detailed provision with respect to forestry scholarships, the security of forests and many other matters which obviously must be dealt with by regulations.

Clause agreed to.

Title agreed to. ‘

Motion (by Senator Sir William Glasgow) proposed -

That the bill be reported with an amendment.

Amendment (by Senator Herbert

Hays) agreed to -

That all the words after the word “That” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ Clause 4 bc reconsidered.”

Clause 4 -

The Inspector-General shall have charge of the bureau, and, subject to the direction of the Minister, shall be charged with the administration of this act.


– I move -

That the words “ Inspector-General “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ Director of Forests.”

If we give this official the title, “Inspector-General,” we shall imply that the bureau is to have jurisdiction in not only Federal Territory, but over the whole of the continent. The importance of the bureau, and its size, will bear no comparison with those of State forestry departments. If it inspires confidence and perforins useful work, it may fairly claim later the right to assume a higher status. At the outset it is to be limited to Feder-al Territory, and for a time it will be on trial. The committee has shown its willingness to give the bureau a chance to prove whether it is capable of doing good work. When its sphere of usefulness has spread over the whole of the Commonwealth, its status can be raised. Until that occurs this official should have the title, “Director of Forests.”


– (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [2.45]). - I hope that the committee will not agree to the amendment. Already in the several States there are Directors of Forests, and to have a Commonwealth, officerwith the same title would cause confusion.

Senator Herbert Hays:

– There is duplication of titles now in the taxation departments of the Commonwealth and the States.


– Seeing that the department will not always be a small one, its permanent head should be given a suitable title from the beginning. The title “Inspector-General of Forests” will bring our Bureau of Forestry into line with similar departments in India and France, and possibly also in other countries. From its inception, the Federal Bureau of Forestry will he responsible for training foresters for the whole of Australia, and a title should be given to its controlling officer in keeping with the dignity of his office.

Question - That the words proposed to be left out, be left out - put. The Committee divided.


NOES: 14

Majority . . . . 7



Question so resolved in the negative.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Bill reported with an amendment.

page 2061


Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to-

That the Senate at its rising adjourn till Tuesday next at 3 p.m.

page 2061


Budget Debate

Vice-President of the Executive Council · Western Australia · NAT

[2.51]. - In moving

That the Senate do now adjourn,

I desire to intimate that it is expected that on Tuesday next the Appropriation Bill will be before us; and as it will be open to honorable senators on the first reading of that measure to discuss any of the subjects which it would be permissible for them to discuss on the motion that the budget papers be printed, I do not propose to ask them this afternoon to resume the debate on that motion.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 2.56 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 November 1927, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.