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Thursday, 26 September 1974
Page: 1477

Senator WRIEDT (Tasmania) (Minister for Agriculture) - We have 3 Bills before us but I will deal only with the Wool Marketing (Loan) Bill as that is the one in respect of which an amendment has been moved to the motion that it be read a second time. I will leave my comments on the amendments proposed to be moved in the Committee stage on one of the other Bills until we come to that Committee stage. Senator Maunsell made several points, two or three of which I would like to comment on. He made reference to the fact that the normal commercial sources of finance should have been used for this purpose and not an appropriation. This matter was contained in the amendment. As Senator Hall pointed out, that is not really germane to the Bill. It is a general statement and one which can be fairly debated but not in the context of this legislation. However, for the record I think it should be said that the trading banks indicated that they would have been prepared to meet the Australian Wool Corporation's requirements providing they had been able to get assistance from the Reserve Bank of Australia. The Government, and that means specifically the Treasurer (Mr Crean), had to make an overall judgment, and the Treasurer acted accordingly. He believed that it was necessary to appropriate the money.

The important point about this is that the Government was prepared to take this step by means of an appropriation. Senator Walsh emphasised the fact that this Government has done this for the first time in the history of the industry. Far from being a point for criticism of the Government, especially by the Australian Country Party, I would have thought that this was a step which the Country Party would have praised. On the question of the commitment beyond the 1974-75 season the Government is clearly committed to the maintenance of the floor price during 1974-75. Currently before the Government is the full marketing report of the Australian Wool Corporation. Of course, the Government could not be expected nor would it have been wise for it to make a commitment in respect of this floor price plan until such time as that marketing plan had been fully studied by the Government. Many other matters were raised, especially during the time that Senator Walsh spoke. I want to congratulate him on the informed manner in which he always speaks on matters of agriculture. Notwithstanding the interjections from Senator Webster, it is quite obvious that Senator Walsh does his homework very thoroughly on all these matters. I suggest, in view of the time factor, that we put this Bill to the vote on the second reading and proceed to the Committee stage.

Amendment negatived.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

WOOL TAX BILLS (Nos 1 to 5) 1974 Second Reading

Consideration resumed from 25 September (vide page 1426), on motion by Senator Wriedt:

That the Bills be now read a second time. Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bills now read a second time, and passed through their remaining stages without requests or debate.

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