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Thursday, 30 August 2001
Page: 27080


Senator SANDY MACDONALD (12:47 PM) —I wish to support the Wool International Amendment Bill 2001 obviously, because it is of great importance to Australian wool growers. Time is short, and I do not have a speech to incorporate. There are a couple of points I would like to make. One of them is about the role Senator Crane has played in this whole debate. I was expecting to follow him. He is not speaking because of the time constraints, but he has played such a constructive role in the finalisation of the wool industry woes and has done so since before 1990 when he entered the Senate. Senator Ferris is here as well, and I know she is going to incorporate her speech. All of us who have been involved in this debate over the last few years are surprised that the finalisation of this has come at a time of non-controversial legislation, that after all the pain that the wool industry has been through over the last 10 years we now pass this final liquidation of wool stock, which is owned by Australian wool growers now, in a non-controversial way.

The industry that we are talking about is so very important for Australia. Wool is still our second largest rural export. The towns and communities that depend on wool are spread right across the Western Division, the pastoral divisions of Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland. They have seen great distress over the last 10 years. It is the first time in 30 years that we have a free market. The psychological impact of that is extremely strong, the commercial aspect of it is extremely strong and, in a bipartisan sense, the political aspect of it is extremely strong. For those three reasons—apart from all the other personal reasons, including the 70,000 wool growers out there, who are good people and who require a free market for their product to be sold—this is good legislation. It is good to see their money returned. I will make some further comments on this in the adjournment debate when we come back.