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Tuesday, 5 December 2000
Page: 20698

Senator HARRIS (5:43 PM) —I rise this afternoon to indicate, on behalf of Pauline Hanson's One Nation, that I will be supporting the Wool Services Privatisation Bill 2000. The general intent of the Wool Services Privatisation Bill appears to be directed to the general benefit of the wool growing industry by giving control of the industry back to the growers themselves. While I will not be moving any amendments to the bill, I have some concerns regarding the management of the proposed new organisation. Here again we have the control of another agricultural industry being handed over initially to an unelected board. We are presently hearing many complaints of a similar nature in the meat industry regarding the MLA, hence my concern that this same quango situation not be permitted to be perpetrated on the wool growing industry in this country. The problems arising from the undemocratic situation of `taxation without representation' must not be permitted to be implemented in the wool industry.

All the issues that I raise here today could be very simply discarded purely by vesting the control of Australian Wool Services Ltd directly into the hands of the growers themselves, thus passing full responsibility for the management into the hands of a board directly elected by growers. This, however, does not appear to be the current situation regarding the bill, and I feel that this erroneous decision is neither in the best interests of the growers themselves nor in the true spirit of democracy in this country.

Taking into consideration that the funds being used to finance the new structure for wool growers will be primarily funded by the growers themselves, I question the right of the government to impose such restrictive practices upon the industry. The claim will no doubt be made that the growers themselves indicated in Wool Poll 2000 how they wanted the industry to proceed. While, simplistically, this is correct, when I spoke to individual farmers and asked them more specific questions relating to the implementation of the bill, they showed a lack of knowledge of the finer detail and the consequences that would befall them with the introduction of this new piece of legislation. None were aware of the total lack of control and lack of accountability they, as growers, would have over this board. None were aware of the fact that they, the growers, would not be given the right to directly elect the board; that they, the growers, would not have the right to direct the board in the direction that they, the growers, wanted to go; and that they, the growers, would not be given the right to direct their funds in the areas they wanted them invested in. And so the situation goes on.

Again and again we see this happening in agricultural industries within Australia and the consequential disastrous results of this line of thinking regarding industry within the country. The bill in its present form will perpetuate the economic rationalist destruction presently running rampant over all levels of public and private industry in the country. It is now becoming obvious to all what the end result will be.

I will be requesting further details from the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry on many aspects of the bill about which I have concerns. Some of those are related to the actual conducting of Wool Poll 2000. I will also have some questions regarding the actual structure of the board—the numbers that are envisaged to be on the board of Australian Wool Services Ltd, how many positions the growers themselves will actually hold on the board and what level of scrutiny the growers will have over the awarding of contracts arising from their industry. So, as I have indicated earlier, Pauline Hanson's One Nation will support the implementation of the Wool Services Privatisation Bill 2000 but will be seeking clarification from the minister on many aspects of the actual function of the board.