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Coalition will not hold up wool sales -- it's irresponsible

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The Coalition will seek to amend the wool legislation before Parliament so that confidence can be restored in the Australian wool industry as quickly as possible.

The Government's wool package is irresponsible and inadequate", the National Party Deputy Leader and Shadow Primary Industry Minister, Bruce Lloyd, said today.

"Confidence is the key to the industry's future and the

Coalition's proposals will allow wool sales to commence next week with as much certainty about the future as possible.

"The Minister for Primary Industries and Energy has failed to provide any leadership on wool at a time when the industry

desperately needs it.

"Woolgrowers already face dramatically reduced incomes and a huge interest bill.

"On top of this, the Government is trying to saddle them with an open-ended supplementary payments scheme which could cost up to $1 billion in additional debt to the Wool Corporation."

Mr Lloyd said the Coalition will therefore move amendments to limit woolgrowers' debt by ensuring that a blow-out in

Corporation borrowings could not occur.

"Additional Corporation borrowings for the scheme would be limited to $200 million under the Coalition's amendments, not allowed to blow-out to $700 million as the Government proposes."

The Coalition strongely urges the industry to formulate a plan to enable it to make its debt service payments and to begin to pay its debts over the next few years.

Mr Lloyd said that restoring confidence in the wool industry was of paramount importance.

As a result, the Coalition would also move to freeze the

stockpile for 12 months, except in very limited exceptional circumstances.

After 12 months, the stockpile would be disposed of in a

publicicised , orderly and predictable manner acording to prespecified legislation.

Mr Lloyd said that it was also vital that the Government announce now that the Reserve Price Scheme was termintated permanently. The Opposition will seek to move a second reading amendment to this effect.

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"Any belief that the floor price might return could prevent growers from taking the correct decisions in relation to the selling of their wool, and delay the return of confidence to both buyers and growers," Mr Lloyd said.

He said there was also an urgent need for the Government to make additional finance available for rural adjustment and rural counselling.

Mr Lloyd said the Caolition had rejected the demands of the Wool Council of Australia to block the legislation in the Senate. Such an action would be irresponsible because:

. it would prevent wool sales from starting for at least

another three weeks.

. it would place at risk the $300 million offered by the

Government to assist with the supplementary payments.

About 2.5 million bales are still to be sold before the end of June and this amount has to be divided by the number of weeks left.

Mr Lloyd said the advise of the Wool Council to both the

Coalition and the industry in the past had been poor and there was no reason to suppose the demand to hold up this legislation was any better.