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Wednesday, 27 October 1971
Page: 2572

Mr CORBETT (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether his attention has been drawn to a letter in yesterday's Press, written by the General Manager of the Pastoral Division of Dalgety (Aust.) Ltd, in which he stated, inter alia:

The statement made by Dr Patterson that Dalgety would receive $600,000 under the wool deficiency payments scheme in respect of wool produced on its own properties is so grossly inaccurate that it should be corrected.

He went to say:

Deficiency payments made to the company will be only a fraction of those stated by Dr Patterson.

Finally, will the Minister assure the House that the assistance given to the wool industry will not be subjected to a means test as advocated by the Australian Labor Party, any more than is assistance given to the sugar, wheat and other primary industries?

Mr SINCLAIR (NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Primary Industry) - As the House will know, the scheme which was introduced to provide assistance to the wool industry this year is termed a price support scheme. It is designed in that manner because it is intended to increase the price payable to growers to that which it would reasonably be expected might have been payable in the market place during the current wool selling season. In fact, because of events which have interposed - predominantly the 10 per cent import surcharge imposed by the United States of America, but also uncertainty about currency valuations around the world and some slackness in recovery in the general textile field - the market has not reached the expected point. It is true that as a result of the introduction of the wool price support scheme a higher level of prices will be paid to growers than they would have been able to command without that price support scheme. Certainly the position also has been improved because of the active support of the Australian Wool Commission in the market place.

But the Government's intention in introducing the scheme was that assistance should be available equally to all wool growers. They are all in difficult circumstances. I think that the letter to which the honourable member's question referred drew attention to the particular problems of the stud industry. I think that of all the sections of the merino sheep industry in Australia at the moment which are hurt by the decline in wool prices, none is more seriously hurt than are the stud breeders. Dalgetys, amongst other companies, has quite a number of stud properties. These stud properties are the source of the best breeding stock from which the high quality of the Australian merinos has emanated. It is tremendously important that these studs should not go out of commercial operation. I am told that in many instances sales by studs have dropped alarmingly. If we were to follow the suggestion that was promoted by members of the Opposition, the consequence would be that many of these studs would be denied a reasonable share of the wool price support scheme. For those reasons the Government does not intend to change the scheme which it has introduced in the form to which the honourable member addressed himself.

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