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Wednesday, 8 December 1971
Page: 4274

Mr O'KEEFE (PATERSON, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister for Primary Industry no doubt will be aware of (he results of yesterday's wool sales which indicated a reduction in the amount of wool being purchased by she Australian Wool Commission. Does the Minister feel that this upturn in price is indicative of a general trend towards increased world wide demand for wool?

Mr SINCLAIR (NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Primary Industry) - As the first swallow does nol make a summer so the first good sale does not necessarily end the problems of the woo! industry. Bus fortunately it is true that yesterday the Australian Wool Commission bought less wool and the trade bought more wool than has been so to date throughout this wool selling reason. There are trends overseas, too. which give one some hope for optimism although there is a long way to go before one can look at the prospects for the wool industry with any measure of equanimity. Certainly in Japan and in Europe there are very good signs that the quality of wool which has always ensured, its pre-eminent place amongst textile fibres still ensures that there is an increased demand. On the o:her hand, in Britain and in the United State, of America, where there have been marked depressive tendencies largely as a result of the introduction of the double knit fabrics, quite a slackening in demand has occurred. lt is this as much as anything that is the real depressant in the market al the present time. However, I understand that the fact that the double knits are noi as comfortable or as warm as wool and tend to snag is causing some problems amongst those who are taking the purchasing decisions at the retail end. Consequently, the wool mills, the top makers and others are now tending to turn back to wool. Perhaps this might be part of the reason why the market itself is showing some slight increase in demand. 1 think, however, that the problems are such that wool growers themselves would be foolish were they to be complacent in the prospect that the trend demonstrated yesterday is one which will see wool again restored to the place which it once enjoyed as a major fibre commanding a market at whatever price it could attract and at a level far higher than other fibres. The synthetics are well established in the market place. The prospects for future wool prices will depend very much on the price paid for synthetics. As the honourable gentleman well knows, the volume of production of synthetics has risen very substantially and with it the price that is charged for synthetics has fallen. These factors will continue to determine both the price paid for wool and the demand for wool in the market place in the future.

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