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Thursday, 10 May 1973
Page: 1953

Mr COLLARD (KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - My question is addressed to the Minister for Northern Development, representing the Minister for Primary Industry.I refer to the Government's wool acquisition policy which, as the Minister is aware, has the approval and support of most wool growers? Is the Minister in a position to give the House some indication of when the scheme is likely to become operative and, if not, can he say what stage has been reached with regard to procedures which are necessary to bring the scheme to fruition?

Dr PATTERSON - The honourable member for Kalgoorlie will be more than well aware of the policy of the Australian Labor Party with respect to wool acquisition. That policy was announced by the Prime Minister in his policy speech. It was repeated many times whilst we were in Opposition. Our policy is to establish a statutory marketing authority to acquire and/or market the Australian woo] clip.

Mr McMahon - Why?

Dr PATTERSON - What was that?

Mr McMahon - Never mind. It is bad enough as it is.

Dr PATTERSON - The people have judged how bad you are. The position is that whilst the Australian Wool Commission Bill was being debated in this Parliament last year 1 moved an amendment which provided that the Australian Wool Corporation report to this Parliament, through the Minister, within 3 months on a comprehensive wool acquisition scheme.

Mr King - What has that to do with it?

Dr PATTERSON - I am interested in that interjection because the honourable member for Wimmera and other honourable members opposite opposed that proposition. As was pointed out last year, in the Australian Wool Commission Bill there is no mandatory instruction to the Australian Wool Corporation to bring any wool acquisition plan before the Minister or before the Parliament. The Australian Labor Party moved the amendment that within 3 months a plan be made available for examination because the growers and most sectors of the wool industry wanted to see a plan. We still do not have it. I think all honourable members will agree that the most advantageous time to introduce stabilisation schemes is when wool prices are sound and certainly when they are high. It is obvious that the only time the Australian Country Party wants to introduce a stabilisation scheme is when wool prices or commodity prices are at bedrock. It is important that we do get a proposal from the Corporation. On behalf of the honourable member for Kalgoorlie I will bring this matter to the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry to see whether we can accelerate the objectives of the Australian Wool Corporation with respect to this proposal, if it is to present a proposal. If it is not to do so the Government will have seriously to consider amending the legislation to require the Corporation to present a report on acquisition to the House within a certain time.

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