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Monday, 13 September 1971
Page: 1154

Mr IRWIN - Has the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry been drawn to the proposed scheme of the New South Wales Minister for Lands, Mr Thomas

Lewis, to agree to allow Western Lands lessees to sell their holdings to public companies as this appears to be one of the few schemes which could alleviate the economic difficulties of the lessees? I ask the Minister whether it would be wise to adopt a similar scheme for wool growers? Would not this be better and more effective than the support price plan which could cost the Government between $100m to $200m a year?

Mr SINCLAIR (NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Primary Industry) - I am not aware specifically of the proposals currently being put by the New South Wales Minister for Lands. I do know that over the years the complexity of the New South Wales land laws has caused quite considerable difficulties in the purchase and sale of properties in that State. I know that as a result of those difficulties there has been some change in land laws in latter years, no doubt designed to try to vary the past difficulties which have arisen, in that field. In relation to the honourable member's suggestion that wool growers should similarly be allowed to sell to public companies, I think he would be aware that over the years quite a number of companies have moved into wool growing. No doubt some of these public companies would be able to operate on a lower price return for wool than some individual wool growers. I do not think that size alone indicates the measure of efficiency or profitability of a wool growing property. In many circumstances, one would find that the smaller wool grower, operating his property to an economic peak of efficiency, is able to operate at a more profitable level provided the finance available to him and his level of indebtedness do not inhibit his operation.

It is true that the Government has underwritten the price returns to wool growers this season, but of course the Government is doing more than this. It is endeavouring to look at the whole field of wool growing and the opportunities for wool as a textile fibre in world markets. It is doing this in conjunction with members of the Australian Wool Commission, wool brokers, wool buyers and others generally to try to determine what the future of wool might be. It is of real concern to Australia as a whole, and not just to primary producers, that if possible a future should be determined for the wool industry so that it will not be dependent on government support alone to make it profitable.

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