THE TIMBER COMMISSION.
(By Telegraph.—Press Association.) DUNEDIN, this day. The Timber Commission sat in Dunedin this morning. The first witness was Mr. T. Scott, of Scott and Wilson, ■Venetian blind maker. He. said the bulk -of the timber he used was imported, none of the New Zealand timber being suitable. He referred to the anomalies in the present tariff on imported timber, -the chief anomaly being. the._.slight difference between timber imported In bulk And dressed or manufactured timber. He said that some years, ago slats,-used by him were cut and dressed in the Dominion, but now, owing to the anomalous duty, they were imported from Sydney ready dressed, and Ne"7T Zealand plants for preparing the timber were shut down. By importing this timber ready dressed, the manufacturer has saved, one-third in freight and one-third in duty, for one-third of the timber went into sawdust in the process of manufacture. Witness considered that, the timber was now 25 percent, dearer than it used to be. The cost of labour had not increased more than 10 per cent. It would be a mistake to place a duty on imported timber. He thought there should be an export duty placed on kauri, as extra work would be given to the building £rade. If timber were imported, the price would more than compensate for the work lost by New Zealand sawmills. Witness said there was undoubtedly a ring among the kauri merchants, as the price was fixed and was too high. Mr. Crawford, president of the Builders and Contractors' Union of Employers, read a resolution passed by his Association for presentation to the Commission, expressing the opinion that the. importation of foreign timbers would facilitate building operations, and emphasising the necessity of import duty being removed. Witness said tlje principal reason for wishing the duty removed was the difficulty in obtaining local timber. The Builders' Association had no understanding as to prices with the Sawmillers' Association. Alexander McPherson, timber merchant, said there used to be considerable inquiry from Australia for birch, and his firm shipped fair quantities there till the Commonwealth imposed a duty of 2/0, which shut New Zealand birch out. He considered something should be done to put kauri and birch on the same footing. He did not think the increased cost of timber was caused by a close; combine of the Association's members. The Sawmillers' Association were not subjected to any penalties if they sold timber below certain prices. He thought that the percentage of bad debts was 2A per cent, of tho cost of timber.
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