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Tuesday, 21 May 1957

Mr POLLARD (Lalor) .- The purpose of this measure is to amend the Wool Use Promotion Act 1953, and the principal reason for the amendment is the new arrangements for research covered by the Wool Research Bill 1957 with which we have just dealt. One of the main features of the bill is that it provides for the Commonwealth Wool Adviser, and the

Deputy Commonwealth Wool Adviser, to be no longer members of the Australian Wool Bureau, which is charged with responsibility for wool use promotion and, in addition, for the administration of the Wool Research Trust Fund by which research is to be financed. The bill provides also for putting into proper legal form the consequential arrangements made necessary by the Wool Research Bill 1957, and the wool taxation measures which immediately preceded this bill.

The Opposition does not object to the principles of the measure generally, but it suggests that the Australian Wool Bureau should have, in addition to six members representative of the Australian woolgrowers, at least two representatives of the trade unions associated with the production, sale, and processing of wool. I foreshadow, at this stage, that my colleague, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), will move an amendment to that effect at the committee stage.

As this measure deals with wool use promotion, it naturally follows that it is linked directly and indirectly, on the economic side, with the types of wool that are produced in Australia. I take this opportunity to join issue with the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), regarding certain remarks that he made earlier to-day. He said, in effect, that if you broke up the large estates into smaller holdings you would thereby endanger the fine wool production of Australia. I suggest that that is a fallacy. It was once a belief honestly held by a considerable number of the people, particularly primary producers, and it was also the viewpoint expressed by many of the larger landholders and squatters who opposed by every means at their disposal the cutting up of large holdings for the benefit of those who wished to be farmers.

Mr Turnbull - The honorable member should put what I. said.

Mr POLLARD - I know what the honorable member said. He may make an explanation when I have finished, if he wishes to do so. The purport of what he said was that when you improve pastures, which is the inevitable result of cutting up large estates to make smaller holdings, there is a deleterious effect on the quality of the wool. I believe that that opinion is honestly held by some people and dishonestly held by others.

The facts reveal that exactly the reverse is true. Perhaps you will allow me, Mr. Speaker, to answer the honorable member for Mallee directly. If it is the case that improvement of pastures and better feeding of sheep result in deterioration of the quality of wool, let me ask the honorable member this-

Mr Turnbull - 1 rise to order, Mr. Speaker. 1 do so because the honorable member for Lalor is not stating the case correctly. Is he in order in referring to a debate of the House which occurred earlier in the day?

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order!The honorable member for Lalor is in order, provided that he confines his remarks to the bill.

Mr POLLARD - I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that as the bill deals with wool use promotion, there is a direct link between my remarks and the bill. Those who hold the view that improved pastures and smaller holdings inevitably result in the production of wool of a less fine quality should ask themselves why it was that, at the recent Sydney Sheep Show, a competition for the finest fleece in the world was won by a fleece from the Merriman property, " Merryville ", which is not far distant from Canberra. That fleece was adjudged the finest merino fleece in the world; yet it came from a property every acre of which has been top-dressed with superphosphate for a long period of years. It came from very high-class pasture. It did not come from the outback, from saltbush, native grass, wallaby grass, or some other type of pasture. It came from high-class pasture less than 50 miles from Canberra, although certainly from a large holding of 22,000 acres.

Mr Turnbull - That blows the honorable member out.

Mr POLLARD - It does not. The argument of the honorable member for Mallee was that an improved pasture results in deterioration of the value of wool. Did the great ram " David ", which brought 5,000 guineas at the Sydney sheep sales, ever see a bit. of saltbush or kangaroo grass? Of course, he did not! He was born and reared in the lucerne paddock at the station from which he came, and he produced, and his progeny are producing, the fine wool for which Australia is famous.

The story that improved pastures and smaller holdings will result in deterioration of our wool is markedly not true. In further support of my proposition, I point out that more recently still the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization - and the honorable member for Mallee may look at the relevant publication if he wishes - has agreed, after extensive research, that there is no deterioration in the fineness of wool from sheep of improved pastures. To the wall, therefore, goes this long-standing argument and very clever piece of propaganda of people who do not want their large estates broken up.

It is true that another situation could develop through the breaking up of large estates. It could be that those who went on to portions of large estates, when they were broken up, and improved their properties and increased the carrying capacity might consider that there was more money to be made by breeding sheep which produced wool of a quality not as high as superfine merino, but which enabled them also to breed fat lambs. That is an entirely different proposition, but even then, those holdings, when broken up, would return far more revenue to the Commonwealth than would holdings devoted exclusively to the production of fine wool. If those who carry on the wool production of this country want to produce fine wool predominantly, there is no reason in the world why, in a particular district or in respect of a particular group of holdings, there should not be a co-operative organization devoted solely to breeding and improving a strain of sheep to produce fine wool.

I have made these remarks because I wanted to dispose of this long-held belief. It is true, I know, that some people have said that, in addition to the features I have mentioned, smaller holdings would mean that ploughs and harrows would be used, with the result that dust would find its way into the fine wool. But, of course, dust gets into the wool in the outback of New South Wales, back of Bourke, in Western Australia, and so on. Some years ago, I was on the property of Mr. Foster, outside Launceston in Tasmania. I went all over it. Its area does not amount to more than 1,000 acres, but it consists of improved pastures of the highest order. It is wellknown that Mr. Foster produces on that property of improved pastures some of the finest wool in Australia. It is possible that the honorable member for Mallee will develop another argument and say, " Oh, but there is more condition in that wool*. Nothing, however, can detract from the fact that wool will retain its fineness provide* that the breed and the line are maintained.There may be more condition in it and more pounds to the sheep, but in competition withthe rest of the world, as has been" proved by the examples I have given, there are nofiner fleeces anywhere. To the best of my memory, on no occasion during the last ten years .has wool shorn from sheep off native pastures been able to compete with the fine wool from sheep from small holdings and improved pastures.

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