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Thursday, 5 December 1974
Page: 3220

Senator WRIEDT (Tasmania) (Minister for Agriculture) - I move: That the Bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The speech read as follows)-

Honourable senators will recall that on behalf of the Australian Government, I announced on 27 August that the Australian Wool Corporation would operate a minimum (floor) price equivalent to 250 cents per kilo clean for 2 1 micron wool during the 1974-75 season and that the Government would guarantee sufficient funds for this purpose. Honourable senators will also recall that, in addition to the $ 13m provided in the Budget for advance to the Corporation, Parliament, in September last, made available $150m by way of special appropriation under the Wool Marketing (Loan) Act. The purpose of this Bill is to amend that Act to enable the Treasurer, on behalf of the Australian Government, to make further loans of up to an additional $200 m to the Corporation. Thus the total provision under the Act would be increased to $350m. Proceeds of loans to the Corporation under the Act are available for financing purchases of wool at auction- including tender- and for the making of advances to growers whose wool is withheld from the market by the Corporation.

Since the 1974-75 wool selling season commenced the Corporation has, under its minimum reserve price operations, purchased on average approximately 50 per cent of the offering at auction. As at 15 November its stockpile had reached some 800,000 bales, and it had committed over $90m of the $ 150m. Clearly there is the prospect that the $150m could become fully committed while the Parliament is in recess. It is therefore necessary, before Parliament rises, to make provision for further loans to the Corporation.

It is considered that the amount available to the Corporation should be sufficiently large to cover its requirements to the end of the wool selling season. The total amount of funds likely to be required for the Corporation's purposes is difficult to establish, depending as it does on the extent to which the trade supports the market. But insofar as it is possible to predict at this stage, we judge that a further amount of $200m should be adequate for this purpose, and the Bill seeks an additional appropriation of that amount. We shall, of course, keep the position under close review. We do not rule out the possibility of the Corporation obtaining further trading bank finance later in the season. In that event the amounts the Treasurer would need to advance to the Corporation under the Act would of course be correspondingly reduced.

I am sure that honourable senators will appreciate the need for expeditious action in this matter, to ensure a continuing provision of funds to the Corporation and to demonstrate beyond all possible doubt the Corporation's capacity to sustain its floor price operations. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.

Debate (on motion by Senator Maunsell) adjourned.

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