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Thursday, 15 May 1980
Page: 2326

Senator CARRICK (New South WalesMinister for National Development and Energy) - The principles embodied in the Wool Industry Amendment Bill, as I understand it, are not opposed by the Opposition. The purposes of the Bill are well known. It aims basically to provide for the continuation of the operation of the Wool Market Support Fund and the floor price mechansim. I will not weary the Senate with further comment on that. The Government opposes the amendment foreshadowed by Senator Walsh. It does so on the very respectable grounds, as I remind the Senate that the Wool Council of Australia, on behalf of growers, believes that the reticulation of the refunds as provided for in the Bill is the appropriate mechanism. One of the important things to note, I think, is what the growers attitudes may be.

The arrangement for repayments through brokers and wool dealers was the subject of substantial consideration in the development of the scheme. I am advised that the Australian Wool Corporation concedes that it could not handle the whole operation more cheaply than by using the services of brokers or dealers. Brokers and dealers are strongly opposed to the Australian Wool Corporation dealing directly with their clients on matters involving commercial transactions and relations between brokers, dealers and their clients. Brokers and dealers have extensive detailed knowledge of wool sales involving tax, identification and whereabouts of eligible growers in the thousands of individual transactions annually at issue. They are generally in an excellent position to act as agents for growers. One would therefore not accept the concept put forward by the Opposition.

I turn to a number of points made by Senator Walsh. He referred to the question of government consultation on the Bill. I am advised that there was a process of consultation with the

Wool Council of Australia throughout the period of some three months during which the Bill was drafted. There may be some differences of opinion in relation to individual aspects provided for in the Bill, but the Government was in consultation with the national council as the national body representative of growers. The national council has not insisted that alternative provisions be made in respect of matters such as meeting marketing administration costs mentioned by the honourable senator.

The Government has not altered its commitment to contributing jointly with growers to the funding of wool promotion. As announced in 1977, the Government will determine the amount of its contribution annually and announce it in the context of the Budget. The decision to transfer the Australian Wool Corporation's pre-purchase costs from being met by wool tax income and to being taken into the trading and profit and loss account has nothing sinister about it. It is a very logical approach.

The question of matching funds dollar for dollar was raised. I am advised that the simple explanation is that dollar for dollar matching is guaranteed by sub-clause (ab) of clause 1 1 of the Bill, which reads: (ab) amounts equal to the amounts from time to time expended from the account kept in accordance with paragraph 68a (a);

If a more complex answer is required, I am advised that the effect of clause 11 (a) of the Bill is that tax receipts only are to be paid into the account described in paragraph (a) of proposed new section 68A. Clause 1 1 (ab) of the Bill provides that there shall be paid into the account described in paragraph (b) of proposed new section 68A amounts equal to amounts expended from the account described in paragraph (a) of proposed new section 6 8 A, the account containing levy proceeds only. Hence dollar for dollar matchings of tax collected after 30 June 1 980 is automatic as soon as the levy revenue is spent.

I make one other comment. An endeavour was made to suggest that the Australian Labor Party, when in office, was more generous in this area. I am advised that when last in office Labor introduced a principle of contributing only 25 per cent of wool promotion costs. The basis of contribution by this Government has been substantially more generous. We reject the amendment. I commend the second reading of the Bill to the Senate.

Question put-

That the amendment (Senator Walsh's) be agreed to.

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