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Wednesday, 28 October 1970

Mr HUNT (Gwydir) - First, I wish to congratulate the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) upon the speed with which he acted in concert with the Australian wool industry in presenting to Parliament this Bill to establish the Australian Wool Commission. Who would have thought that in a matter of a few months we would have seen the wool industry completely united and the Government acting in such time to try to meet the crisis that the industry is facing?

I wish also to pay special tribute to Sir John Crawford, the Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University, an eminent economist with special knowledge and interest in rural economics, for the preparation of his comprehensive and historic assessment of the proposals of the Advisory Committee of the Australian Wool Board. Full marks to the Minister for his decision to engage the services of this eminent Australian to prepare the proposal for the Government.

The wool industry has been long divided - in fact, it has been plagued - by indecisions and by divisions on the question of marketing. Of course, this non Socialist Government has never, and I hope will never, instruct an industry what it shall do with its product. We have been waiting for the wool industry to decide what policy it would adopt and how it wanted the Government to act. Unfortunately, throughout the whole of this debate within the industry, a certain loss of confidence in the industry has occurred.

In this regard, I wish to pay special tribute to another important personality in this welcome movement towards a united approach by the industry, particularly in New South Wales. I refer to Mr Ronald Hunter, a leading stock and station agent and grazier in Moree who, for many years, has been a member of the General Council of the Graziers Association of New South Wales. It was Mr Ronald Hunter who organised the initial mass meeting of wool growers in Moree, in my home town, at the Moree Showground on 21st March of this year. Over 2,600 wool growers attended this meeting and almost unanimously voted for the establishment of a single statutory marketing authority. This was an historic landmark in the history of Australia's biggest industry. I might say for the record that I am proud I was the chairman of that meeting.

From that day - 21st March - events have moved swiftly. Further meetings were held around Australia. In March 1970, the Australian Wool Board Advisory Committee met in Canberra. In April of this year, the Graziers Association of New South Wales voted in favour of this proposal. Again in April, the Australian Wool Industry Conference voted in favour of a single wool marketing authority. In June 1970, the Australian Wool Board Advisory Committee's sub-committee was established to examine the principles involved in the submission. In July 1970, the subcommittee reported that it was firmly of the view that the present and foreseeable conditions of the industry called for the establishment of an effective, that is, a strong single wool marketing authority with powers relating to the whole of the clip.

As I said earlier, the Minister invited the Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University to make an independent assessment of the proposal and to comment on the broad principles recommended by the Committee. On 14th September, Sir John Crawford handed this report to the Minister. On 6th October the Minister announced that the Commonwealth Government had agreed to the establishment of a statutory wool marketing authority to be known as the Australian Wool Commission. Since then the Australian Wool Industry Conference has voted for this proposal by 47 votes to nil, with 3 abstentions. I have traced the history of events that have led up to this Bill. So I say to the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby): What utter rubbish to come into this place and say that we have not implemented what the industry asked for. It is a mischievous and mislead ing statement to be made in this House. He went on to quote a little rhyme called Baa, Baa, Black Sheep'. Let me quote a similar rhyme:

Blah, Blah Grassby, have you any wool? No, sir, no, sir, just a lot of bull.

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