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Tuesday, 21 May 1957

Mr FAIRBAIRN (FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES) .- This is a most important bill, but I do not intend to delay the House for very long because I know that the measure has the support of both the Government and the Opposition. Wool is by far our greatest export. According to figures which were announced recently, in the first nine months of the current financial year wool was responsible for 47 per cent. of our total export earnings. It appears that a return of approximately £500,000,000 will result from the sale of wool during the current year. It is obvious, therefore, that the future of wool is of immense importance to Australia. This country, of course, is not the only wool-growing country of the world, but it is, perhaps, the country with the greatest need to see that the wool industry is fully developed. We have the greatest vested interest in wool.

It is true that wool research is carried on in other countries of the world, but it cannot be denied that if those countries found a fibre which could be used in place of wool they would use it. We, on the other hand, would be in a perilous position if anything happened to undermine the use of wool as a fibre. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon), when introducing this bill, stressed the fact that there is a tremendous volume of research throughout the world with the object of finding synthetics to take the place of wool. One firm alone in America is reputed to be spending £50,000 for every working day of the year on nothing else but research in this direction, whilst the total amount spent on such research throughout the world is well over £20,000,000 annually. Research into the wool industry, on the other hand, would not account for more than £2,000,000 a year in Australia, the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand combined.

I welcome this measure and I want to congratulate the Minister for Primary Industry. I wish also to congratulate the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and, at the same time, to say a word in praise of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) who, after all, has to find the money in the long run. The fact that he has seen fit to agree to a contribution on the part of the Government, to match that of the growers, has made it possible for this measure to be introduced. I think that we in this country are particularly fortunate in the calibre of the officer who leads the C.S.I.R.O., Sir Ian Clunies Ross.

Wool, as a fibre, has many advantages and also many disadvantages. Its advantages are, first, its spinning qualities. Recently, I read that a man in England had taken a pound of superfine Australian wool and had spun it into a fibre which was well over 100 miles long.

Mr Ward - Mr. Speaker, I direct your attention to the state of the House.

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