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Wednesday, 11 April 1973
Page: 1363

Mr Malcolm Fraser asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

(1)   What progress has been made concerning the referendum which the Government intends to hold on the merino export embargo.

(2)   What discussions has the Minister had with industry leaders concerning this question, and concerning the nature of the referendum.

(3)   Is it a fact that major wool growing organisations are opposed to the referendum.

(4)   Does the Minister intend to give greater weight to views of his Party than to the wishes of the industries concerned.

Dr Patterson - The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1)   Arrangements for the construction of the Roll of persons eligible to vote at the referendum are proceeding. The information on which the Roll will be based is being obtained from some 230 wool houses which handle shorn wool on behalf of growers, and from the Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders.

(2)   The Minister for Primary Industry has obtained views on the referendum from the Australian Agricultural Council, the Australian Wool Industry Conference, the Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers' Federation.

(3)   Differences exist in the views amongst woolgrowers on the question of the prohibition of exports of merino rams. These views are reflected in the attitudes of woolgrower organisations, and the Australian Wool Industry Conference proposed that the taking of a poll on the question should be deferred.

(4)   The Government's decision to hold the referendum is in accord with its policy of affording woolgrowers the opportunity to decide the issue for themselves.

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