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Address at the official opening of the Sydney Sheep Show, Sydney



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ADDRESS BY THE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER

AND MINISTER FOR TRADE AND INDUSTRY, THE RT. HONG JOHN McEWEN, AT THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE SYDNEY SHEEP SHOW

SYDNEY, 302.1970.

Mr Pockley, Mr Deputy Premier, officially open the 71st Sydney Sheep Show. here on the invitation of the President and Sheepbreederst Association. An occasion to at present situated; to convey our esteem remember the early Studmasters0

it is an honour to My wife and I are Council of the N.S.W. review industry as to Studmasters and to

This 1970 Sheep Show has an added significance for Australians since it is being held in the Capt. Cook Bi-Centenary Year. History shows a record of tremendous achievement in our sheep industry since the first sheep were landed from Capt. Arthur Phillip's fleet in January, 1788. At present there are over 176 million or 18gl% of the world's sheep, in our national flock. And I understand that the official forecast for our wool production in the current season is for the first time in

excess of 2,000 mil. pounds greasy - about 1/3rd of the worldts annual productions

Three-quarters of our sheep are Merinos - clearly the pre-eminent breed. Our breeders' skill has been concent-rated on developing the renowned strains of present-day Merinos. The dual purpose meat and wool sheep of the Corriedale and

Polwarth breeds, for which Australia is noted, are based upon the merino. An extensive range of British Breed flocks has been built into our Australian environment for the production of top quality sheep meats and, in particular prime lamb.

While I understand that the numbers of your show entries this year are down on what they have been in previous years, the quality of the stock exhibited here is, I am told, well in keeping with the best ever seen in any Sydney Show.

I must pay the highest compliment to their Studmasters, and also thank on your and my own behalf all the exhibitors who have gone to all the trouble associated with the preparation of show

animals. This preparation for showing is an exacting task.

From the national, viewpoint, this great show of our top sheep has a particular value _ n publicly displaying the quality of our top stud stock. So even those who don't win prizes are making an important contribution,

to the partial February, of the significant event on the forth-

rams might be

M; Pockley has referred already relaxation, which came into operation on 1st ban pn the exports of Merino Rams. It is a wh h will bring international focus to bear

ing sales on 5th February, when up to 150 purchased by overseas interests0

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The Government's decision was taken on the advice of the most representative wool industry authority available -the Australian Wool Industry Conference. The A.W.I.C. carried the resolution sponsoring relaxation of the ban in November, 1968, and announced it. The Cabinet then decided to act on this matter in March 1969 and Mr. Anthony immediately announced the Government decision and the conditions stipulated.

Late in June last year I told a deputation of opponents of relaxing the ban that I would see that they had adequate time to see if they could persuade the members of A.W,I.C. - or the Organisations from which they come - to reconsider their decision. Six months later - more than a year

after A.W.I.C, first passed the resolution, Mr Anthony asked the Executive of A,W.I.C. if it was desired to re-consider the matter. The answer to Mr Anthony was 'no t. Mr Anthony then announced last month - that is, 10 months after his first announcement - that the relaxation would operate as from 1st February.

In an historical context befitting the Capt. Cook Bi-Centenary Show, it is appropriate that we might recall that our Australian Merinos - fine, medium and strong = are the , products of the breeding genius of the Macarthurs, Marsdens, Peppins; and their successors, applied to Spanish and Saxon merinos, Rambouillets and Vermonts, all imported from overseas

countries, and carefully bred to thrive in our environment.

The view is strongly held that it would advance our own self-interest to again permit the export of a limited number of merinos of our own breeding. The argument is that this would provide a stimulus to sheep and wool production by contributing, if only in a small way, toward ensuring the wool will remain an important fibre in the world's textile production. At the same time, as Mr Pockley has said, there will be the

stimulus provided to the studmasters who will be encouraged to breed more top quality sheep.

On the aspect of quality, I would like to move away from wool for a moment, to comment upon the improvement in the quality of our prime lamb, and at the same time offer my congratulations to the breeders"of the British Breeds who have contributed to this improvement.

Our production of lamb exceeded 300,000 tons in 1968/69, and Australians are now eating almost 50 pounds of lamb per head of population annually, or about half as much again as they were 10 years ago. This is a tremendous increase, resulting in large part from the improvement in the quality of our lamb, and its marketing, supported by the vigorous promotional campaigns sponsored by the Australian Meat Board in recent years,

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Wool and prime lamb producers are today confronted with substantial and urgent problems that have their sharp impact' on studbreeders and flockmen alike. In respect of wool, Mr. Pockley referred to the situation as being "critical"for many growers. This, of course, is not

the first time in our history that woolgrowers have had to analyse their position and take action to adjust to new circumstances.

The past development and expansion of the sheep industry has been a dynamic process in a constantly changing economic environment. The present situation represents another major challenge which must be met by the Industry and the Government working in consultation and partnership towards a satisfactory solution.

In recent months I have met officials of a number of leading woolgrowers bodies, who have sought to advance a variety of proposals for the Government ts consideration aimed to improving the lot of the woolgrowers. From all of

these discussions it is apparent that if producers are to receive reasonable returns for their investment in the industry, we are on the threshhold -of a period of important change involving the wool industry.

In recent years, rising costs of production have tended to exceed the financial gains of increased productivity, progressively worsening the economic position of woolgrowers. On most properties we know that labour resources have been pruned to a minimum beyond which further reduction is impossible. Thus the 14% reduction in the average auction price of wool which growers have sustained in the second half of 1969; compared with the prices received in the same period of 1968, is a particularly crippling blow.

I believe that most, if not all, woolgrowers recognise and appreciate the range of assistance that the Government has already provided - specialised taxation concessions, investment allowances., fertilizer bounties, more generous arrangements for the financing of wool research

and promotion, drought assistance, drought bonds, and assistance for wool marketing.

' All this is help for which there needs to be no apology, for wool is our most important single earner of export income. In 1968/69, exports of raw wool and sheepskins earned $828 million, or more than 25% of the value of our merchandise exports. And you will appreciate the Government's concern for the welfare of the wool industry because without a high and rising export income our continuing development as a prospering nation, our standard of living, would be in jeopardy.

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But it is a fact that wool's dominant importance in our broad economic development has diminished over the years - and this trend will continuer Wool contributed 9% to the value of our Gross National Product in 1948/49, but'by last year the figure was little more than 3%. Similarly, the

percentage of the value of our imports paid for by wool exports has declined from 56% in 1948/49 to around 23% last year.

The changing feature of wool in the overall economy is seen both because of the cost pressures to which growers are subject, and because of the decline in wool's' relative importance in our economy. I welcome, therefore, the recent announcement by the Chairman of the Australian Wool Board that an immediate investigation will be conducted by the Wool Board into the problems presently confronting the industry. There must be a will throughout the industry to tackle these

important issues.

I have consistently maintained a position that an industry should have a major part in determining innovations that are considered vital or beneficial to its welfare. Industry should not readily give up this prerogative, and leave it for a Government alone to take decisions for it, Therefore I would urge grower organisations to continue their study of the industry's problems with a view to offering proposals for the

Government's consideration -- proposals that the Government may consider in the best interest of this great industry, and so in the public interest. Such advice will always be most effective and acceptable if representing the consensus of view of the industry,.

In returning to my main function, which is the opening of the Capt. Cook Bi-Centenary Sheep Show, I must congratulate the Sheepbreeders' Association on the arrangements that they have made, and the Royal Agricultural Society on the fine facilities that are available here at the Showground.

I look forward to meeting the exhibitors of the prize-winning sheep in a short while, and congratulating them on their achievements, which must give all breeders incentive for futh improvements -- improvements which I hope will still be reflected in the Cook Tr-Centenary Sheep Show in the year

2070.

I have much pleasure nowin opening this Capt. Cook Bi-Centenary Sheep Show,