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Thursday, 23 April 1936

Senator GIBSON (VICTORIA) - If rayon can be produced for less than1s. per lb., it will inevitably become a severe competitor with our finer wools.

Senator Cooperraised a point which I expected honorable senators of the Opposition to discuss, as to whether some such system as Bawra - the British and Australasian "Wool Realization Association - could not be organized to deal with the present situation. I am afraid many people do not know that Bawra did not sell a single bale of wool. In 1916 the Hughes Government purchased the whole Australian wool clip of about 900,000 bales. It continued to purchase the wool clip of the country each year during the period of the war and for one year after. The whole of that wool was handled by the Central Wool Committee. Bawra did not then exist. The Central Wool Committee, which operated between 1916 and 1921, handled a vast quantity of. wool. When its contract with the British Government expired in 1920, the British Government found that it had on hand about 2,750.000 bales of wool. The question arose how such a vast quantity of wool could be handled. Bawra was brought into existence to deal with the problem. At that time wool could not be sold for anything like a reasonable price. I believe that the price fell, at that time, to as low as 8d. per lb. The Bawra scheme was developed, to a large extent, by Sir Walter Young, of South Australia.

Senator Guthrie - Sir John Higgins had most to do with it.

Senator GIBSON - Sir Walter Young went to London and made contact with Sir Arthur Goldfinch, and subsequently the Bawra organization took over the handling of the surplus wool, but it did not sell the wool. It simply rationed it on to the market year by year. At that time the British Government held about £7,000,000, that was due to the Australian wool-growers. The Bawra organization took charge of this money and also of the surplus wool. It placed the wool on the market in an orderly manner year by year, and had it sold through the usual channels. The proceeds were put into the fund with the £7,000,000, and payments were made from time to time to the wool-growers, and it was in this way that the problem was satisfactorily handled.

Senator Collings - It was a triumph for orderly marketing.

Senator GIBSON - That is so. Bawra did remarkably good work. It seems to me that the" pastoralists to-day need some ' organization which will enable them to marshal their resources to meet the new problem which now faces the wool industry. If they ask for legislation to authorize the collection of a compulsory levy so that all wool-growers will be obliged to share in the expenses of any scheme adopted to meet existing conditions, their request should be favorably considered. They are not asking for an organization to take charge of the marketing of their product. The growers are asking for protection against the unfair propaganda that is being directed against the wool industry in this country.

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