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Thursday, 13 April 1961

Mr McEWEN - My statements have had the effect that I intended them to have. They have stimulated some thinking within the organizations of wool growers upon both the desirability of promotion and the timing of a decision on this matter. I wished to bring out two points. The first was that if the wool industry did intend to ask the Government to increase the levy for wool promotion then the time had already passed when it would be possible to introduce legislation during this sessional period, and therefore it was no longer possible to apply the increased levy at the moment of the commencement of the new wool selling season, which is early in July. I remind honorable members that this Government's policy has always been that in these matters we act only upon the request of the wool industry, and I pointed out to the industry that the earliest point at which it could now secure legislative action, if it decided that it wanted such action in the forthcoming wool selling season, would be during the Budget sittings, by which time several wool sales would have already occurred. I pointed out to the industry that, in my opinion, it was quite unthinkable to alter the rate of levy substantially in the midst of a wool selling season, and therefore if a decision were not reached early enough to obtain legislative action during the Budget period a full year would be lost. That was the first nudge - if I may use that expression - which I gave to the wool industry to concentrate on this issue.

In the second place - I shall not take long on this matter, but it is important that I explain it - I was pointing out to the industry that, irrespective of the method of marketing pursued, whether it be the present untrammelled auction system, whether it be an auction system accompanied by a reserve price, as is advocated by some, or whether, in the extremity, it be an appraisement system under which a price is set by somebody for every grade of wool, the price that the growers will get finally will depend not on the marketing system, but on the strength of the demand for wool throughout the world.

In my statements I pointed out that, quite apart from marketing, the necessity for a most vigorous promotion campaign ought to be recognized by everybody who has the interests of the wool industry at heart.

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