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Thursday, 1 June 1972
Page: 2516

Senator POKE (TASMANIA) asked the Minister rep resenting the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

(1)   Is the present temporary stimuli in the wool trade doing anything of real value to stop the decay in the industry.

(2)   Do 70 per cent of the 90,000 woolgrowers in Australia run flocks of less than 2,000 sheep.

(3)   Is 7,000 sheep the accepted rough figure at which a grower can reasonably expect to maintain essential quality.

(4)   What definite long-term scheme has the Government in mind to keep small woolgrowers in a viable business.

(5)   Does the Minister agree with the statement made by Mr George Le Couteur that the present ceiling could be too high for the long-term good.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) (Minister for Air) The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   I personally am hopeful that the recovery in the wool market since January this year is more than temporary. I have no doubt that the improved wool prices now being obtained are of very real benefit to wool growers.

(2)   Figures issued by the Commonwealth Statistician in March 1971 (the latest available) show that in 1969-70, 70 per cent of all holdings with more than 200 sheep bad less than 2,000 sheep.

(3)   It is not possible to quantify the minimum flock size needed by a grower to maintain flock quality except in relation to a specific area. This is because the flock size depends on a large number of very variable factors, such as soil, climate and genetic material available.

(4)   The Government's policies in regard to the wool-growing industry are aimed at the industry as a whole although the interests of the family farmer have been kept well in mind in their formulation.

(5)   The view that present wool price levels are too high for the long-term good of the wool industry is one which I find difficult to accept. There is a good deal of evidence to indicate that the wool market at present has a solid basis. Since January, prices at Australian wool auctions have staged a strong recovery from the extremely low levels of last year. Demand for wool is good and improving in Europe, Britain and Japan, and it should not be overlooked that the current level of woo) prices is still below the levels which prevailed before the recent slump.

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