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Wednesday, 1 December 2004
Page: 57


Senator McGAURAN (1:48 PM) —The time provided for the Wednesday lunchtime debate allows for all sorts of issues to be brought up. I would like to bring to the attention of the Senate the Wool Factory, a business in Horsham, Victoria, that keeps some 900 merinos. They are housed and fed for life. Each sheep is housed in an individual pen under one roof. The object of the Wool Factory is to produce the finest of fine wool. Moreover, this outstanding business employs some 40 special needs workers, who have various disabilities. It is a vital part of Horsham economic life. The business was established in 1983. In that time it has grown, on and off, some of the world's finest wool. With that backdrop, I announce to the Senate that the Wool Factory has achieved a world first. It has produced the finest bale of wool in the world—a 93-kilogram bale of wool with fibres of a thickness of 11.8 micron.


Senator Ian Macdonald —That's fantastic.


Senator McGAURAN —It is fantastic, Senator Macdonald. Just to put that in perspective, it is about a sixth of the thickness of a human hair. The bale is expected to go up for auction in December, when no doubt there will be some keen bidding for it from our main suppliers, such as Japan, China and Korea. The Wool Factory achieved not only this world prize for the finest bale of wool but also a very prestigious award earlier this year from Ermenegildo Zegna—and I suspect there would be a few people wearing Ermenegildo Zegna suits in this parliament—for the world's finest and best fleece. The first bale of wool I mentioned was 11.8 micron, but in this single fleece they were able to achieve 10.6 micron. It came from a sheep also at the Rowville stud of David and Susan Rowbottom in St Helens, Victoria. So it looks as though Victoria is leading Australia, if not the world, in producing the finest wool. And do not think there is not stiff competition for this award. As my colleagues on both sides of the chamber know, Australia has some pretty strong competitors in this market. No lesser countries than New Zealand across the Tasman, South Africa and Argentina compete for this prestigious award.

I had the opportunity recently to visit the Wool Factory and they gave me a sample of the world award-winning bale, which I am very happy to show the Senate. I know I cannot table it, but for all my colleagues in the chamber I have a piece of some of the finest wool ever produced in the world—and it is a Victorian product. I know many of my New South Wales colleagues, such as Senator Sandy Macdonald who is a wool grower, would be envious. I can tell all those Tasmanians who think that they grow some of the best and finest wool, purchased mainly by the Italians, that Victoria has taken the crown away from all the wool producing states. It is not to say that they do not put in a fair effort but it seems to me that, when it comes to the finest of fine wool, Victoria takes the crown. I would like to congratulate all the workers in the Horsham Wool Factory—and in particular the CEO, Tony Craig, who oversees these workers—and the township of Horsham on—


Senator Webber —Congratulate the sheep.


Senator McGAURAN —And I congratulate the sheep that have produced this fine wool, which I hold up again. I am more than happy to produce it for anyone in the chamber who wants to come over and feel some of the finest of fine wool, which will no doubt end up in some Zegna suit.

Sitting suspended from 1.53 p.m. to 2.00 p.m.