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Wednesday, 24 May 1972
Page: 2958

Mr KELLY (WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Has the Minister for Primary Industry seen a transcript of yesterday's interview on the programme 'This Day Tonight' with the honourable member for Moore, in which he stated that the Prime Minister was delaying changes in the methods of selling wool because of pressure from certain powerful unnamed interests. When the Minister received the report from the Australian Wool Industry Conference did he not feel that there were some areas of uncertainty as to the functioning of the AWIC scheme which should be clarified before any changes were made? Did he not refer these and related matters to the Randall Committee for report? Having done this, does he not agree that it is only common sense to wait until the report is received before taking action? In short, can the Minister assure me that it is his, as well as the Prime Minister's, opinion that it is common prudence to get as many answers as possible before making big changes to our wool marketing system? Does the Minister not consider that the attack by the honourable member for Moore on the Prime Minister was grossly unfair?

Mr SINCLAIR (NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Primary Industry) - I think we ali recognise that any change to an industry is of consequence. Therefore, a change to Australia's principal industry is of even greater consequence. At the same time, I also believe it is essential that industry itself should have a say in determining the future of the product which that industry owns. Industry in Australia for the first time has united in submitting, through the Australian Wool Industry Conference, recommendations for changes in the marketing system. I am not aware, in the consideration by the Govern ment of the recommendations of any influence being exerted upon any member of the Government - be it the Prime Minister or any Minister - other than the promotion of the interest of the industry itself. I think that it is of interest to compare our attitude generally with that of the Opposition on matters relating to the formulation of policy with respect to primary industry. We find that policies from the other side of this chamber normally are formulated in such a way that the producers themselves - those who own the product and those who will be affected in the marketing and handling of the product - are the last along the line to be consulted. Policies from the other side of this chamber are introduced by arbitrary means which deny to those who own the product and who are affected by the marketing and handling of the product the right to exercise any say in marketing changes. For our part we believe that it is necessary to have consultation within the industry and outside it. It is on that basis that a Government decision will be taken. As I have explained previously in this House, a statement will be made on the Government's decision well in advance of the opening of the new wool selling season.

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