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Wednesday, 31 May 1972
Page: 3341

Mr KIRWAN (Forrest) - I second the amendment. This afternoon the Opposition has made an attempt to discuss the Commonwealth Electoral. Act and the 75 other items on the notice paper before the House goes into recess, but no matter requires debate or finalisation before this House goes into recess more than does the marketing of the wool clip. However, as the Government has decided that the House will go into recess today, it is important that the House should reassemble before 30th June, for the reasons given this afternoon by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). I remind members that in his report for 1971 the Chairman of the Australian Wool Board made a most important statement. I use it to illustrate the importance of the wool industry to Australia as well as the seriousness of the situation that is confronting the industry. In that report he said:

This year was perhaps the most difficult experienced by the industry. Gross value of wool production slumped SI 88m to $547m - the lowest in money terms since 1949-50. Over wide areas this income fall has been disastrous for thousands of farm families and others in the rural community dependent upon them.

Many are still suffering the consequences of this decline. Even though the situation has improved on last year, it still is serious and it is causing concern to people in rural electorates. The report continued:

As income has fallen, farm debts have arisen alarmingly. Many of the industry's biggest debtors are its otherwise efficient producers.

That is known to be true by any member representing a rural electorate. While the honourable member for Dawson was addressing the House, Government members were interjecting: 'Where are the wool growers?' In reply one might well ask them: 'How will the wool growers vote on this particular issue? How concerned are they about their fellows on the farms and about the situation in the rural industries because of the inactivity of this Government over a long period?' It is all very well for Government members to say that the situation has improved. It has, but in spite of the Government not because of action taken by it. The Government now has an opportunity to show the level of its concern for electors in rural industries. It is of immense importance that this Parliament should reassemble to debate the Randall report, and that this report be tabled in this Parliament for distribution. As the member for Dawson said, we need to come back here to learn what the Government will do about the support scheme during the coming 12 months.

Thousands of wool growers and their families and rural communities throughout Australia are in desperate need, but their needs can be met only as a result of Government decision and action. In the present circumstances it should be decision and action taken after regard has been had to the Randall report. Surely such decision and action ought to have been taken long ago. As I said in a speech I made in this House last week, in 1964 responsible individuals were advocating that total acquisition of the wool clip would be the answer to the industry's problems and that effect should be given to certain recommendations of the Australian Wool Industry Council. The present position has not come upon the Government unexpectedly. As I said in my earlier speech, it should have been prepared for it. It should have prepared legislation for submission to this Parliament before it went into recess, but now that the Government has decided that the House shall go into recess, surely it should ensure that the House will reassemble in order to debate the business that we have been advocating this afternoon. One Government member, who is a member of the political Party to which the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) belongs - the Minister responsible for this matter - said last week that the Government had resorted to a subterfuge in this regard.

Mr Grassby - Who said that?

Mr KIRWAN - The honourable member for Moore (Mr Maisey).

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock - Order! I point out to the honourable member for Forrest (Mr Kirwin), as I pointed out to the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), that the subject matter before the House is the sittings of the House. I have allowed certain references to be made because I felt that it was fair to allow the mover and seconder of the motion to illustrate briefly the reasons for the amendment. However, I suggest to the honourable member for Forrest, as I suggested to the honourable member for Dawson, that we should not develop the argument into a debate on the subject matter of wool acquisition.

Mr KIRWAN - I agree, Sir, but I remind the House that the honourable member for Moore has said that the Government has resorted to subterfuge. Here is an opportunity for the honourable member for Moore-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock - Order! I ask the honourable member for Forrest not to continue along the lines of debating the wool industry.

Mr KIRWAN - Very well, Sir. Here is an opportunity for the honourable member for Moore to avoid resorting to subterfuge. By voting for the amendment he has an opportunity to stand on the side of the people whom he represents in this place. Indeed, so can the honourable member for Canning (Mr Hallett). As both those honourable members well know, grave concern is felt throughout the rural electorates of this country, no less in Western Australia than in any other State of the Commonwealth. Because of the lack of security felt in the industry because people do not know what the Government intends to do at the end of this month or the end of next month in relation to the support scheme or in relation to wool marketing, it is essential that they should know what is to be done. All we get from the Government are statements. We do not want statements. What we want is legislation passed through this House. But first we want a debate on the Randall report before any decision is made and any legislation is passed through here. So I support wholeheartedly the amendment that has been so ably moved this afternoon by the honourable member for Dawson. I commend it to the House and I commend in particular that the House reassemble before 30th June in order to debate the Randall report and the state of the wool industry, and in order that appropriate legislation be passed through this House.

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