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Wednesday, 13 September 1972
Page: 1269

Mr O'KEEFE (PATERSON, NEW SOUTH WALES) - 1 ask the Minister for Primary Industry: Has the price of wool at recent sales shown an upward trend? Is it the opinion of wool industry leaders that further increases could occur? Has the Australian Wool Commission had occasion to purchase at recent sales? Will the Minister inform the House of the up-to-date position particularly in respect of stocks of wool held by the Commission and the clearances being effected?

Mr SINCLAIR - The wool market has shown a marked firming trend since it reopened about a month ago. It is true that since that time the Australian Wool Commission has not been a significant purchaser of wool. However, in pursuing its customary function of trying to maintain stability in the day to day sales the Commission has made some purchases. For example, yesterday I think it bought about 5 to 10 lots. The Commission is still buying on occasions and is bidding on a good many occasions when, for reasons related to the time of the day or the type of wool on offer, there is some slackness in the immediate demand.

The function of the Australian Wool Commission since the market has recovered has been substantially to pursue a stabilising influence in the market place. This is of course of real benefit to both growers and buyers. I for one am sorry that the market seems to be running away to the degree that it is. Although from the wool growers' point of view we are all delighted that prices are again reaching a realistic level, I think one needs to express concern that to the degree to which the price of wool rises beyond a point competitive with the prices of other fibres there could be a tendency to revert to the use of those fibres. Growers are quite conscious of that danger. In order to obviate growers' fear of that danger the Commission has been releasing its stocks according to the demand and the availability within the catalogues of sales.

The amount of stocks held by the Commission at this stage is not high. I cannot give an exact figure. Of course, it represents in part price averaging plan wool and part non price averaging plan wool. As far as 1 can recall, the figure has not been published by the Commission but I can assure the honourable gentleman that at this stage it is significantly less than 200,000 bales. The stock held constantly reflects the inflow of wool that is coming through the price averaging plan system. I believe that the whole strengthening of the market tone, nonetheless, is overall a credit to the publicity efforts of the International Wool Secretariat and to the Australian Wool Commission for the sound backing it has given to the auction system.

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