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Wednesday, 30 November 1960

Mr MACKINNON (Corangamite) (12:30 PM) . - During the debate on the Wool Use Promotion Bill last Thursday night I was followed by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie). Owing to a certain amount of noise in the House and a lack of clarity in the honorable member's voice I did not hear everything that he said. The following day my attention was directed to certain of his remarks, which had been given some publicity in the Melbourne press. In view of the rather unfortunate nature of those remarks I should like to put the record straight.

The honorable member challenged my right to speak on behalf of the woolgrowers of the great electorate that I represent. He adopted a more than challenging attitude when he made a most unfortunate reference to myself, particularly having regard to his own background. He is reported in " Hansard " as having said that I had got up as if I was the lord of all being. I leave it to the House to decide whether statements of that kind should be introduced into the debates.

Not only did the honorable member accuse me of being egotistical but, with far more confidence than accuracy, he went on to say - i guarantee that i have thousands more sheep in my electorate than he has in his.

When my attention was directed to this remark I realized that it could not be correct, so I made a little study of the subject. I consulted the Tasmanian section of the " Commonwealth Year Book " and ascertained that as at 31st March, 1960, Tasmania had a total of 3,494,000 sheep. I then turned to the Victorian section of the "Year Book" and found that in the electorate of Corangamite there were nearly 4,000,000 sheep. So the honorable member's guarantee cannot be regarded as being very reliable.

He also claimed that the best merino wool grown in Australia is grown in his electorate. I concede that Tasmania has a little of what obviously is the finest wool in Australia and, possibly, in the world, but I point out to him that only 10 per cent, of the total number of sheep in Tasmania are merinos whereas in the western district of Victoria one-half of the total number of sheep are merinos. I leave it to the House to judge which electorate would have the largest quantity of good wool.

He would have done the people of his electorate a greater service if he had given them credit for something that they are doing. For a number of years the electorate that he represents has been the fountain head of some of the finest merino sheep in Australia. He can safely tell the people in his electorate that I have said on their behalf that the stud-masters there have been responsible for the production of some of the finest merino sheep in the fine-wool class in Victoria and New South Wales, and that the studs of those States owe a great debt of gratitude to the breeders in the electorate of Wilmot.

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