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Wednesday, 28 October 1970


Mr KELLY (Wakefield) - There are several points I should like to make particularly for the benefit of the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Allan Fraser). Having heard the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street), I know quite well that he did not say that this legislation, or the formation of the Australian Wool Commission, is the salvation of the industry and will lead to a rapid increase in the price of wool. He did not say that, and I think it is quite unfair for the honourable member for Eden-Monaro to say that he said it. I should like to remind the honourable member for Eden-Monaro that it is easy to fall into the trap of making political capital out of situations. Anybody who denies that it is necessary to have some aggregation in the wool growing scene is talking nonsense. This has been going on since the country was settled. It is a continuing process. The only way in which farmers can meet the situation is to change as the position changes. I thought that it was deplorable for the honourable member for Eden-Monaro to make political capital out of the situation in this way. I would like to take up one matter the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) mentioned. He kept on saying that we were wedded to the auction system or that this Commisson is wedded to the auction system. Surely he has read the Ministers second reading speech. Surely he knows that there are several ways in which a private buyer still has room to operate and in which the Economic Wool Producers Ltd still has room to operate. Surely the honourable member knows that the Wool Commission itself is free to sell wool through the auction system or by any other method it thinks fit. To keep on referring to something which is entirely wrong seems to be rather queer.

I listened tonight with my usual respect to the speech made by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). I am sorry that he always talks in that kind of petulant way. I always expect him to burst into tears. Really, some of the things he said are not worthy of a man who speaks for the Opposition! He kept on saying: 'It is not in the Bill.' I am not quite certain what he meant by that phrase but having listened carefully to him I found that he was complaining - and complaining is the operative word - that there is nothing in the Bill that lays down the brokerage rate, or that there is nothing in the Bill which lays down how the Commission will bid. If 1 were to send a man to plough a paddock I would not say to him: 'You go around 3 times in second gear and then lower the lever a bit'. If I gave a man the job and the man I got to do it was a good man I would expect him to do that kind of a thing himself.

When the Opposition was in office as the Government and set up Trans Australia Airlines it did not say: 'You will fly so many flights a day out of this or that city.' The best people available were appointed to do the job and they were expected to get on with it. It is really nonsense for anyone to pretend that a group of people of the quality that we expect and hope and must get will be appointed to the Commission and then have to be told how to apply the technical processes, The honourable member said that the brokerage rate is not laid down in the Bill. He ought to know that the wool does not have to be sold in this way. If a brokerage rate is too high - and this would be a commercial judgment - the Commission will say to the grower: You go and sell it in some other way'.

The honourable member for Dawson said that we may get people within the Commission who will take financial advantage of their position. J remind the honourable member that we are not dealing with trades hall politics, we are dealing with a group of people who are honourable and efficient.

To those honourable members who are interjecting I say that I have heard a few comments from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) about the situation at the Melbourne Trades Hall which were not exactly complimentary.

I want to come back to some of the fundamental parts of this legislation. One point which we should bear in mind in this place is that we do not solve problems by talking about them. We solve problems by making decisions. I am glad that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) has made these decisions. I would like to congratulate him on the way he has handled a very difficult position. I would like, if I may, to thank my colleagues in the Australian Country Party for the active co-operation they have given to the Liberal Party. This co-operation between these two parties has been a very valuable lesson to me and I think it has added something to this legislation.

What will the Australian Wool Commission do. Firstly - and this is the least that it will do - it will add confidence to a situation in which there has been a lack of confidence. Secondly, it will create an environment - as the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) spelt out so clearly - to encourage the changing of our selling methods. There is an exciting vista opening up new methods of selling wool. The main function of the Commission as I see it is to encourage this change to take place. I think that everybody agrees with this. There are such methods as core testing, selling by sample and so on. These changes open up possibilities for our future. The changes may bring about a big saving in costs.

Another thing the Commission will do is create an environment so that we can have effective commercial competition between people who sell wool. This is the difference between the Labor Party and the approach of the Government. The Labor Party - and the honourable member for Riverina has emphasised this yet again - wants the Government to acquire the wool-


Dr Patterson - No, wheat.


Mr KELLY - This is what the honourable member for Riverina said, that the Labor Party wants the Government to acquire the clip. I am saying that this is not the way to handle it. It is not the way that I would - outside of politics - handle it. The first real hope that I have for the Commission is that it will give elbow room for different methods to be tried out one against another. Here again I would like to pay a very sincere tribute to what the Economic Wool Producers Ltd has done. The EWP is a group of people old-fashioned enough to think that they ought to assume the responsibility of trying to solve their own problems and with a great deal of enthusiasm and initiative and courage they have set out to evolve new methods of handling wool. Under the Labor Party policy there would not have been any room for that. There would not have been any room for the private buyer. There would have been one source only.

This is what that Commission will do. I think it is worth remembering what the Commission will not do. One of the things about which we have to be quite clear on is that the Commission will not place a firm floor in the price of wool. Many people will be disappointed about this but I am not one of them. I think it will be far too dangerous at this stage to embark upon such a venture. There will be a flexible floor price which will fill in all the pot holes existing in the market. To do more than that would be politically attractive bu at this stage commercially dangerous. The commission will not give the grower control over the clip. Some people may resent this but as a wool grower - and I kid myself I am one - I do not have any idea in the world about the commercial aspects of selling wool. I have no doubt about my commercial inability to sell wool in competition with professional people who are a lot better at it than I am. I am not supporting the view - even though it is politically popular - held by some people that there should be more growers on the Commission. I know that the people in the farming community are well aware that wool selling is a job for a person with commercial expertise. To pretend that the farmer, such as myself, can come in and lay down a blue print for selling a clip of the size produced in Australia is just nonsense.

I would like to pay a tribute to the growers who, after receiving the devastating knock of falling wool prices, have gradually pulled themselves together and realised that they have to face their own problems and try to solve them themselves. They realise that they have to change their methods of selling and their methods of production. Anybody who does not recognise that these changes are inevitable is just ignoring the fundamental facts of a living and viable industry.

I would like to congratulate the wool growers upon their realisation that a great industry such as the wool industry cannot be subsidised out of its own profits. This is not an easy lesson to learn, but they now know that this is not the way out of tha situation. There are lots of things that will be left and problems that will remain unsolved when this legislation is eventually passed, and anyone who pretends that it will solve all the problems is only deluding the industry. Other problems within the industry such as restructuring and farm debts are fundamental matters that will take a great deal of courage, ability and wisdom to solve. We must start to face up to these fundamental problems. I know that the Minister has these matters very much in his mind at the present time.

I would now like to comment on a matter which I have previously raised in this House. Far too much nonsense has been talked in this country about company takeovers of farms and about the fear that we will all be run by large corporations. I say again that 1 would put the economic size family farm, particularly the one concentrating on animal production, against any corporation farm in terms of efficiency of production. Let us not have any of this nonsense that we will be taken over by large international companies. When we consider the amount of money in farming today, there are a lot of other places where these companies could put their money. We should not get into a dogfight about the fundamental, human and economic problems of farming. They are human and economic problems and I am well aware of them. I live in a farming community and my family has done so for the last 100 years. I resent the clap-trap that people engage in when they allege that we are not interested in the well-being of the farmer. We recognise that for the welfare of the industry inevitably there has to be a change. Anyone who does not recognise that is doing himself an injustice and is certainly doing harm to the industry.

I repeat that a lot of problems have been left behind, one of which concerns costs. I will not toss into the ring the 35-hour week because this matter has been tossed around rather a lot lately. But this is the kind of thing we ought to be aware of. The tariff question is another matter that is discussed a great deal. A lot of problems will face our economy and those interested in the well-being of the farming community. However, we will have to leave the problem to be solved by the general reconstruction and planning that has to be done. In conclusion I would like to congratulate the Minister and his officers most sincerely for the dedication that they have shown. I think the Minister has given a remarkable performance in regard to this legislation. There is a depth of wisdom behind that rather benign exterior that always surprises and gratifies me.







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