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Tuesday, 22 August 1972
Page: 467

Mr McIVOR (GELLIBRAND, VICTORIA) - The Minister for Primary Industry no doubt will be aware of the statement by the General Manager of the Farmers and Graziers Co-operative Co. to the effect that Australia may soon import sheep capable of producing wool for carpet making. Could the Minister advise the House of the likelihood of sheep entering Australia to meet the huge demand for this type of wool?

Mr SINCLAIR - Generally, Australian wools are what are known as apparel wools and, of course, it is those wools which have achieved the distinction and reputation for the Australian wool clip. However, in New Zealand, they have produced a sheep which I understand comes from a mutant of the Romney Marsh type of sheep which has been known as the Drysdale, after a scientist who discovered back in the 1920s that there was a particular N-type gene which gives the wool of these sheep a characteristic which make it suitable for carpet making. I am told that carpet making wools require a certain resilience or springiness, and this quality normally is not present in Australian wools. The Australian Wool Board in 1970, 1 think it was, made a study of the circumstances of the demand for carpet wools. As result of its investigation, it saw an opportunity for limited production of carpet wools in Australia. I have no doubt that the statement made by the manager of the Farmers and Graziers Co-operative Co. is correct, namely, that there is an opportunity, although a limited one, for the production of such wools in our country.

The only difficulty is that at the moment there are no Drysdale sheep in Australia and, to the degree to which they were to be imported, one could not run the risk of their being imported and spreading disease which might affect the other sheep which, of course, are such a vital part of the Australian wool industry. I think there Ls an opportunity for Australia to produce other varieties of sheep than those which it has produced in the past. If this were done we might be able to pick up part of the shortfall in what is a very real demand for carpet wools. At the moment most wools used for carpet purposes are imported. I hope that wool growers, particularly in those areas that might be suited to the production of this type of wool, will pursue, in conjunction with State Departments of Agriculture and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, efforts to see whether sheep of this type might be introduced into the Australian flocks. .

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