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Wednesday, 3 June 1970

Mr ANTHONY (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Primary Industry) - I have expressed on a number of occasions - and so too have other members of the Government - very great concern about the present position of the Australian wool industry because of the low prices and increasing costs. I think all Australians should be conscious of this very serious problem because the wool industry is still our single major export earner and provides a livelihood for many hundreds of thousands of people in areas that could not be otherwise usefully employed. The Australian Wool Industry Conference and the other 2 major wool industry organisations have expressed support for a single statutory wool marketing authority. They have not detailed what they actually mean by this. It has been the thought of people in the Government that the Wool Advisory Committee, which is at present sitting and will be making recommendations to the Commonwealth Government, might be examining this question and bringing forward proposals.

I addressed this Committee when it was first formed some 6 weeks ago and one of the things I asked it to do as a matter of urgency was to bring forward a report as to the reasons for the present low price of wool and to make other suggestions of a temporary nature which might alleviate the serious position. I said to the Committee that I hoped it would report to me by the end of May, if not sooner. I have not yet received a report. I believe that the Committee is meeting next weekend and I hope that I will receive a report very shortly after that. I hope that the report will indicate the thoughts of the Committee on the present market situation and the immediate future outlook for wool. I also hope that the Committee will bring forward some other ideas that either it or the Government will be able to consider so that urgent action may be taken. I consider that the question of action for the wool industry is a matter of very serious urgency.

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