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Tuesday, 21 May 1957


Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) .- There is not the slightest doubt that the wool industry provides one of the greatest illustrations of the success of private enterprise in this country. It has been built up by private enterprise.


Mr Duthie - With government aid.


Mr TURNBULL - The industry was built up by men who came here in the early days, established great sheep flocks and increased their numbers and excellence over the years. An honorable member has suggested that they have received government aid, but the wool industry has received less government aid than any other primary or secondary industry in Australia. The wool man, under private enterprise, has built up this industry, and in building it up he has built up Australia. The wool industry is the greatest factor in the progress and prosperity of Australia. It has been amusing to listen to Labour members praising the wool industry, and then, a little later, when they thought of their positions in their party, saying things that were not quite so favorable as one would expect from them after the start that they made.

I want to explain one or two things in this bill. I favour it very greatly and support it. Of course, favouring and supporting a bill, one does not want to debate it. I listened to the second-reading speech of the Minister and have gone through speeches that were made in the past. Many of them have been outlined by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). I am sure the wool people generally will be very happy with what has been said. When the honorable member for Lalor was speaking - and he was formerly Minister for Commerce and Agriculture - he advocated that a member of a union should be on the board. 1 interjected, "Why not have a grazier on the executive of the union " ? That was a very fair proposition. His argument - and I understand that an amendment to be moved by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) has been foreshadowed - is that certain unions handle wool and, therefore, they should be on the board that has been constituted. Of course, the wool that is handled by those unions should permit the people who grow it, and make possible the employment of men, to be represented on the unions. The Labour party always wants it one way. It should look at both sides.

The honorable member for Lalor is a bit hot-headed in this House, but outside the House he is quite an amiable fellow. When I interjected, he said, "What would the honorable member for Mallee know about wool, primary production, administration or anything to do with the man on the land? He was an auctioneer ". I should like to clear this matter up once and for all. It is over seventeen years since I was an auctioneer, and I was an auctioneer for about seventeen years. I was one of the youngest auctioneers in Australia when I started. One good thing about it is that the auctioneering experience I gained gave me a chance to travel all over the country and to handle countless thousands of sheep. One thing I can say with every confidence - and nobody can deny it - is that, if I were in business again, I could do business with every man I dealt with before as an auctioneer. The honorable member for Lalor seems to resent the fact that I have this particular knowledge. Apart from experience as an auctioneer, I was brought up amongst sheep and on sheep properties. My people were associated with sheep on a property in the electorate of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) - the famous " Winton " sheep property from which I got my name. It was taken up by my great-grandfather in 1825, and my grandfather was born there and we have been engaged in primary production ever since. Yet, the honorable member for Lalor points to me as a man with no knowledge; I would be very happy to meet the honorable member in friendly competition in classing or counting sheep or estimating weight. After all, a man who has had considerable experience with sheep knows how to count them, and I would like to compete with the honorable member for Lalor.

I do not think we can take seriously the suggestion that a member of the union should be appointed to the board. I do not think any fair-minded Labour man would want to have it both ways. The member whom I believe is fair-minded is the honorable member for Bendigo. Surely he will not move this amendment to provide that the wool industry should have foisted on it a man from the unions! But, after all, I suppose if he has his instructions from the union, he must carry them out and will carry them out whatever may come. I was interested to read a speech made in this House on 21st September, 1945, when the Wool Realization Bill 1945 was before the House. I do not want to bait Labour members any more; I want to deal with the bill as it is. The speech to which I have referred gave the information that for the five years before the war the annual value of wool produced in Australia was £51,000,000. The Minister in his secondreading speech said that the export income alone from wool this year will be about £500,000,000. That is ten times the prewar value of wool. The value of wool has increased a lot, but the number of sheep has also increased, and that is of paramount importance. We are very fortunate to have had good seasons.

The honorable member for Wilmot spoke of the area around Campbell Town and those places where the superfine merino wool is grown - " Valleyfeld ", " Winton " and other places made famous by the Taylor family. After praising the wool-growers in his electorate, the honorable member got on to the old Labour theme of cutting up the land. Do Labour members know that, if the land is cut up into small enough farms and intense culture is introduced, a blow will be struck at the production of superfine wool?


Mr Pollard - That is nonsense.


Mr TURNBULL - The honorable member for Lalor says that is nonsense. That shows his abundance of want of knowledge on this subject. What I have said is a wellknown fact. Surely, the honorable member for Wilmot knows that the area he represents in Tasmania is light carrying country.


Mr Duthie - Not for merinos.


Mr TURNBULL - No, but where the superfine wool is produced is light carrying country. The electorate of the honorable member for Lalor, of course, is chiefly in the City of Sunshine. Incidentally, not one Labour member from Victoria at present is dependent on rural areas for his majority. That is a remarkable fact. The honorable member for Lalor, perhaps, has a little more rural area in his electorate than other Labour members have, but without Sunshine and a few other places around Essendon, he would be in a hopeless position and would not be a member of this House now. With intense culture, wool assumes body, and, having assumed body, is not of the superfine quality that has made Australia famous. Does the honorable member for Lalor say for one moment that, if sheep are run at the rate of four or five to the acre, as would be done with intense culture, superfine wool would be preserved? Of course, that cannot be done! The more the honorable member for Lalor speaks about this subject the more he gets into difficulties from which he cannot extricate himself.

Auctioneering has been mentioned. The auctioneering business has contributed greatly to the success of wool sales in Australia. With the exception of one or two misguided wool-growers who perhaps sell their wool privately - I do not include those who send their wool direct to the United Kingdom - nearly all wool in Australia is sold at public auction. The system of public auction, of course, has done much to foster the industry by securing the best possible prices in the world's markets. Buyers from all over the world come to Australia to compete at the wool sales. Of course, if we are fair, we have to pay a tribute to the present Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who, when he was Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, put up a great fight to continue auction sales at a time when certain nations of the world had asked that the auction system in Australia should be abolished.

Members of the Opposition bring up the subject of wool in this House when the atmosphere suits them. When the Wool Sales Deduction Bill was before this House, Labour members went around woolgrowing areas saying: " You will never get back this money that the Government is holding. Once this legislation is on the statute-book it will never be erased ". What was the position shortly afterwards?

Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Bowden).- Order! I think the honorable member is getting a bit wide of the bill.


Mr TURNBULL - May I say in passing that every man got his money back, and the legislation was erased from the statutebook as soon as it was found to be necessary. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) mentioned how the price of land was affected by the price of wool, and how sheep husbandry affects prices generally in Australia and that at one time country that carried a sheep to the acre was worth about £8 an acre. I have been informed that it is worth £25 an acre now. I do not think that the value would be as high as that, although it may bring that figure. I would say that it was worth about £20 an acre on present sheep and wool values. When I was a small boy, the price then recognized for one sheep to the acre country was £3 15s. an acre, and later it went up to £4 10s. All these things are now history.

I rose in my place chiefly because the honorable member for Lalor made an attack on me that was not justified, and I thought that it required answering. I also rose to point out to the Labour party that all the ills of Australia will not be solved by cutting up the land. It must be remembered that certain land can be cut up to advantage. There is other land which it would be to the detriment of the wool industry to cut up. I have heard Labour members say that they have travelled through my electorate of Mallee and seen paddocks that were not being used. They know nothing about the rotational system of cropping, whereby land will lie idle, perhaps for two years. By allowing land to lie idle for a couple of years, and then fallowing and cropping it, farmers use the land in the correct way. So the fact that one may go through the country and see some land that is apparently not being used should not make one think that the owner of the land is not getting the maximum production from it.

The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) has explained this bill very fully. I received, not a telegram as did some honorable members, but two letters from a primary producers' organization asking me to endeavour to have their representatives included in the executive of this new organization that is being set up. I spoke to the Minister for Primary Industry about it, and he said that he was not prepared to accept any amendment to the proposal set out by him in his second-reading speech in which he said -

Consideration has been given to the requests of several organizations that they be permitted to nominate representatives to the committee. The requests have been carefully considered, but the

Government has come to the conclusion that the composition of the committee mentioned in the bill is both adequate and representative.

In case there may be any misunderstanding, I say that it was not trade union organizations that asked me to move an amendment for them, but a primary producers' organization. However, if I were to move as I have been requested the motion would be rejected. Consequently, I think it better that I should not submit such a motion because I should only bring the names of those organizations into the House without their gaining anything from it. It has been stated in this place that once we start to nominate certain primary producers' organizations to such a body it is hard to know where to stop. In my electorate, there are two primary producers' organizations that are very favorably looked upon by the primary producers in the area, but as the Minister has stated definitely that he will not accept an amendment I shall not move one. I have much pleasure in supporting the bill. I hope that this legislation will come up to expectation, and that the wool industry will be kept at as high a standard as it is at present and improved, if possible.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.

Message recommending appropriation reported.

In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral's message):

Motion (by Mr. Roberton) agreed to -

That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to establish a wool research trust fund and for purposes connected therewith.

Resolution reported; and adopted.

In committee: Consideration resumed.

Clauses 1 to 11 - by leave - taken together and agreed to.

Clause 12 - (1.) For the purposes of this Act, there shall be a Wool Research Committee, which shall consist of -

(g)   one member to represent the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. (2.) The members of the Committee specified in paragraphs (b) to (g) (inclusive) of the last preceding sub-section shall be appointed by the Minister and hold office during the pleasure of the Minister.







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