25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
Throughout history, water has dominated human life. Nations reached great heights and toppled and were entombed by the drifting soil brought to their door steps because they had cut away trees and shrubs and grass that gave it anchorage. . . A key factor in conserving water is forests. Mountainsides denuded of their natural forest products are a national menace.
Would the Minister state what encouragement is being given by the Commonwealth to this very important work of preventing mountainsides being denuded of their natural forest products and also to the work of reafforestation in the interests of the conservation of water?
The main factor to be considered in deciding whether or not natural forest cover should be removed is the angle of slope of the land. We all know that serious erosion can occur if mountain areas are over-grazed and good husbandry is not practised. In the Victorian highlands and on the Snowy Mountains catchments, we have good examples of the rehabilitation of land since grazing has been strictly controlled. Except in Commonwealth territories the use of land is in the hands of State Governments. It is they who have to make judgments as to the rate at which crown lands are alienated and the purpose for which they are used. All States except Tasmania have soil conservation acts which give power to a Minister to control the destruction of natural forest cover in cases where this is thought to be desirable. The Commonwealth has been a pioneer in the wise use of catchments. Under an Australian Capital Territory ordinance, destruction of forest cover on leased land is strictly controlled, and I understand that the rejuvenation of the upper Cotter catchment, on which all grazing ceased 40 years ago, is regarded as a model throughout Australia.
– I direct a question to either the Minister for Defence or the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation. I think that the subject of my inquiry comes within the jurisdiction of one of them. As there is a number of foreigners, namely, Greek Cypriots, in Australia who state that they have no intention of being naturalized and who threaten to murder anybody who displeases them in this country, I ask whether members of Australian police forces who will be going to Cyprus to take up duty there will receive the same repatriation benefits, if they become ill, maimed or injured, as soldiers who have been on active service overseas.
– I answer the question merely because it is addressed to me. I understand that this movement of policemen is in the hands of the Minister for External Affairs. Arrangements as to compensation will be made. I am not sure whether details have been finalized, but I shall make inquiries and let the honorable senator know.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise, in his capacity as head of that department and also in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Has he noticed the prominent reference in yesterday’s Adelaide “ Advertiser “ to the plans of the South Australian Government to spend £500,000 on the erection of an overseas shipping passenger terminal at Outer Harbour, South Australia’s main overseas outport? By reference to the descriptive sketch of the project appearing in such newspaper, one gathers that adequate space will be made available to the Department of Customs and Excise and the Department of Immigration for their activities. Has the Minister had an opportunity yet to examine the ground plans of this new building at Outer Harbour? Has he any comment to make thereon in relation to his own Department of Customs and Excise and the Department of Immigration, for which he is the spokesman in the Senate? Will the Minister make sure that the most modem arrangements and equipment are provided, in particular, trolleys of the supermarket type for use by passengers with a number of articles of hand luggage who are proceeding through Customs?
– Yes, I have seen the proposals of the South Australian Government which at the moment, I understand, are approved only in principle. I am sure that the authorities will also have seen the modern terminal at Fremantle, Western Australia, which is one of the best terminals I have ever examined. I think that the terminal at Outer Harbour will be along somewhat the same lines. My departmental officers are closely in touch with, and have received the greatest co-operation from, the authorities in this field, and we are planning with them to have the most modern type of Customs offices in the building. The procedures that have proved to be expeditious in other parts of Australia will, naturally enough, be incorporated in this terminal. I feel sure that once the plans have been approved the Department of Customs and Excise and the Department of Immigration will have facilities at Outer Harbour equal to those anywhere else in Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the
Postmaster-General. Does the Minister know that certain responsible church people in New South Wales have protested to Channel TCN 9 in Sydney, the chairman of which is Sir Frank Packer, about what they claim were serious sacrilegious and blasphemous utterances on the David Allan programme televised by that station on 23rd April, 1964? Does the Minister further know that, following receipt of the complaint, the station tendered an apology for the matter which the churchmen regarded as being highly offensive? However, because there has been no guarantee forthcoming from the station that there will be no further breach along similar lines in future, and having regard to standards 6. 7 and 8 of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board’s standards, will the Minister direct the board to call for the script of the programme complained of and, if it is found to be in conflict with the board’s standards, to issue a written order to the station directing it to recognize in future in al! of its programmes the standards of ordinary good taste and common sense and respect for the individual opinions of the public?
– I have only a superficial knowledge of the matter to which the honorable senator has referred. In fact, my knowledge is confined to what I have read in newspaper reports. I understand that a complaint was made and that the station took some action to nullify the cause of the complaint. I think it is fair to say that most people connected with television, radio and other public undertakings have a very lively appreciation of their responsibilities to the public in the fields in which they labour. I think it is equally fair to say that, human nature being what it is, sometimes there are those who fall below the necessary standards. I hope that as this complaint has been brought to the notice of the station, the station itself will take adequate steps to prevent any recurrence of what has been complained of. The honorable senator asked specifically whether I would request my colleague to call for the script of the programme and ask the board to examine it. I shall place that request before the PostmasterGeneral. If he thinks that the remedial action already taken is not sufficient, he may consent to adopting the policy suggested.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister for National Development, by saying that there are large quantities of high-grade iron ore adjacent to Geraldton in Western Australia. However, there are certain shipping difficulties because of the shallowness of the port, in order to enable ore from this area to compete on overseas markets the port will have to be developed to accommodate ore carriers of up to 30,000 and 40,000 tons at least. Has the Minister heard of any proposals by American companies to deepen the port by using atomic explosions? If he has, will he comment on the proposals?
– I have no doubt at all that Geraldton will develop as a port, because of the big iron ore deposits in the area, so long as adequate harbour facilities can be provided. The process of deepening a port by nuclear explosion is commonly known as Operation Plowshare. So far as Geraldton being developed by Operation Plowshare methods is concerned, the Commonwealth Government knows no more about that than it has read in the newspapers. There has been no approach made by the Western Australian Government to the Commonwealth Government on the matter. There would be no circumstances in which the Commonwealth Government would initiate action in this connexion unless and until the Western Australian Government had made representations to it. This is basically a matter for the Western Australian Government, in regard not only to the construction method employed, but also to the actual work that may be necessary. The Commonwealth Government’s view is that it is for the Western Australian Government to make representations if it desires to do so.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Does the Government agree with the views expressed by Lord Casey that the Commonwealth has ceased to be a force for good in the world, and that it has no general agreement on trade, defence or international issues at the United Nations or elsewhere? Are these views identical with those contained in an Australian journal on international affairs published last year and written by a Queensland professor? Are the views identical with those expressed by businessmen, economists and educational highbrows, that the Commonwealth belongs to the past and is a myth which deludes only the sentimental and the ignorant? As it must be admitted that the Commonwealth holds out no substantial benefits for its members, what is the use of holding a meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London in a month or so? Would it not be better if such a meeting were held in Australia, particularly as this is a time of headlong change?
I have not read Lord Casey’s views in detail, but on my reading he was expressing his own personal views. I do not even know whether Senator Hendrickson has put the correct construction on them. This is a matter on which we all hold views. I do not in any circumstances agree that the Commonwealth has ceased to be a force in world affairs. I think that the Commonwealth continues to lead world opinion, as it has done for a long time past. I think we all subscribe to that view. We take an active interest in Commonwealth affairs through our membership of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. That is evidence of the work that is being done to weld together differing points of view within the Commonwealth. I remind Senator Hendrickson that only a few years ago two Commonwealth-wide meetings were held in Australia. One was the Commonwealth Finance Ministers meeting, which was held in about 1954, and the other was the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting which was held in this building.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Housing. Is it a fact that the War Service Homes Commission will not accept stratum titles as suitable securities for advances to ex-service personnel under the War Service Homes Act. If so, as stratum titles are recognized by State law as proper titles to land and buildings, will the Minister give the reasons for the commission’s refusal to accept stratum titles as suitable securities for advances?
The situation varies from State to State. My recollection is that during my administration of the War Service Homes Division it did accept these stratum titles as security in some States and not in other States. The whole situation turned upon whether in the particular circumstances of the State law it was considered that homes or units held under State titles were adequate security for Commonwealth loans. Many titles are held in the form of shares in companies with articles of association which provide for prior charges upon the mortgage loan made by the Commonwealth. It is an entirely legal question as to whether the legislation of a particular State provides security which, in the opinion of the Commonwealth legal authorities, is good security for a Commonwealth war service homes loan.
– Is the Minister for Health aware of the present epidemic of measles in the United States of America which threatens to cause from 15,000 to 20,000 cases of birth defect and from 8,000 to 30,000 miscarriages during 1964, the prediction being that there might be as many as 10,000,000 cases of measles before the epidemic subsides? As in past years epidemics in other parts of the world have shown a tendency to be repeated in Australia on the same pattern, can the Minister assure the Senate that adequate measures will be taken to combat the disease if it spreads to Australia and to minimize the dangers to expectant mothers?
– The importance of this question prompts me to ask the honorable senator to place it on the notice-paper. I shall get a very speedy reply for her. I should like to refer the question to my medical advisers so that they can give an assessment of the position and indicate what is being done to combat any epidemic that might occur here.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport seen a full-page advertisement, a copy of which I have before me, which I believe appeared in a number of Aus tralian newspapers yesterday, which involved the expenditure of some thousands of pounds, and which gave welcome but unwise publicity to the future services to be provided by the Australian National Line’s vessels “ Empress of Australia “ and “ Princess of Tasmania “ between Sydney and Tasmanian ports? Will the Minister direct the attention of the Minister for Shipping and Transport to the fact that the advertisement indicates that after leaving Sydney the “ Empress of Australia “ will call somewhere on the east coast of Tasmania where there is no port, that car owners will drive through an area of Tasmania where there are no highways, that they will depart from the far north-west tip of Tasmania where there is no port, and will disembark somewhere on the southern Victorian coast where there are no port facilities? Could action be taken to improve this type of advertisement to let would-be travellers know where ships will berth and indicate the main highways over which they will be able to travel?
– I have seen the advertisement referred to by the honorable senator. It was brought to my notice by an officer of the Department of Shipping and Transport who presumably had earlier been made aware of Senator Marriott’s indignation. As I understand it, the advertisement was a diagrammatic interpretation of the fact that soon there will be available from Sydney to Tasmania shipping services which presumably will make it possible for travellers to make car trips in Tasmania before embarking at another point in that State for the return journey. I have not placed on the advertisement the strict geographical interpretation which Senator Marriott seems to have adopted. I thought it was a striking and appealing advertisement. Of course, it is the responsibility of the Australian National Line to look after its own publicity, and I imagine that it does so by employing its own or outside publicity men. I repeat that, as I saw the advertisement, I thought it was effective, but as Senator Marriott has made this statement I have no doubt that it will come to the notice of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission and that the commission in turn will have regard for what he has said. It will probably study the statement and, if it sees any need to alter the advertisement will no doubt do so.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer and concerns the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. Is it a fact that Commonwealth workers’ compensation legislation has not been revised or amended since 1959? If it is a fact, will the Minisster make representations to have the Commonwealth scheme revised and amended to remove anomalies and at least to bring the compensation to the level of that operating in the various States? I understand that the Commonwealth’s scheme compares unfavorably with most, df not all, State schemes. If and when the Government does revise and amend the Commonwealth workers’ compensation scheme will it seek the co-operation, assistance and advice of the Australian Council of Trade Unions?
– The question involves a number of matters of policy. I undertake to direct the attention of my colleague, the Treasurer, to the matter raised by Senator Sandford. I think, however, that it should not be assumed that the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act is inferior to State compensation acts. I recognize, of course, that in some instances compensation provided by the Commonwealth is less than compensation provided by some States. On the other hand, the compensation provided by the Commonwealth is more than the compensation provided by some other States. In an answer which I recently obtained to a question of this sort the Treasurer directed attention to the fact that Commonwealth workers’ compensation, in a particular case, represented something more than the average compensation provided by State acts. I repeat that it should not be assumed that the compensation act of the Commonwealth Government is inferior to the compensation acts of the State governments.
– My question to the Minister for Customs and Excise arises from a statement in to-day’s issue of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ regarding the importation of one of those sea-faring articles called a hydrofoil. I understand from the newspaper article that one of the problems associated with bringing a hydrofoil to Australia to be tried out in New South Wales as an amphibious method of transport is the duty that the importation would attract. Would it be possible to have a hydrofoil brought into this country for the purpose of experimentation without incurring the usual rate of duty which would otherwise be imposed?
– This case is before the Department of Customs and Excise at the present time and is receiving consideration. No decision has been made yet.
” VOYAGER “ ROYAL COMMISSION.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. In view of the fact that the Senate may be discussing the findings of the “ Voyager “ royal commission, would the Government make available to honorable senators a copy of the transcript of evidence, particularly of evidence taken at the public sittings of the commission?
I would hesitate to commit the Government to a promise to do that. My impression of the “ Voyager “ royal commission is that it is something that seems to go on forever, and to make the full transcript of evidence available-
– Copies are in the Library now.
I am reminded by my colleague that a copy of the transcript is available for perusal in the Library. I repeat that I do not think that the Government could make copies available to all honorable senators. When the commissioner makes his report that will become a public document.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Will the Minister bring to the attention of his colleague an article that appeared in a Netherlands publication put out by the Netherlands National Information Service in Australia on 6th May, which gives notice of an international exhibition of modern domestic appliances to be held in Amsterdam in September? By way of explanation, may II say that this exhibition will represent the field of electro-technical domestic appliances - lighting,, kitchen equipment,, plumbing: und heating - and will include also ‘the potential applications of the use of natural gas, and have an ambitious presentation of household items from a variety of countries. As it is of interest for Australia to see what is being done in this field in other countries and also of particular interest to see what can be done to use the significant supplies of natural gas which are now being found in this country, will the Minister negotiate with the Dutch Government to see whether this exhibition can be brought to Australia and shown in- each State?
– I will ask the Minister for Trade and Industry to arrange for his local representative to see the exhibition and report to him’ upon it so that the Minister may have information as to whether it might be advisable to consider the showing, in Australia, of portion of the exhibition.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National’ Development. Would the export of iron ore from Geraldton assist Australia’s, balanceofpayments position? Under the Federal Constitution, has the Commonwealth Government powers with respect to overseas and interstate trade? In these circumstances, is the deepening of the Geraldton harbour the sole responsibility of the Western Australian Government? If it is not, will the Commonwealth Government examine ways and means of giving financial and physical assistance to Western Australia to deepen the harbour?
The Government is very keen, to see the export of iron ore develop. Indeed it is very keen to see the stage reached at which the iron will not be exported as raw ore but will’ be processed, thus involving part manufacture in Australia as a preliminary to the time when, I hope, there will be integrated steel industries in Western Australia based on the big iron ore deposits. Senator Cant asks whether the Commonwealth Government will assist the State in these matters. There is a well-developed pattern in Commonwealth-State financial arrangements. The States bring forward proposals for consideration when the time is opportune, and’ the Commonwealth considers each. such, proposal on its merits.
– Can the Minister for National Development advise me when the Commonwealth- Government is likely to reach a decision regarding, the submission by the Western Australian Government for further funds for the Ord River development scheme? Is it a fact that the cotton harvest has started on the pilot farms at the Ord River scheme? Can the Minister state whether it is true that some areas harvested have yielded, better than 3,000 lb. per acre?
– I cannot answer the honorable senator’s question in specific terms. I know from general information that the cotton crop now being harvested” at the Ord River project has. turned out quite successfully and, therefore, this is of tremendous importance for the future of the scheme. Western Aus1tralia has made an application to the Commonwealth Government for financial assistance. That application is now under examination. I would hesitate to attempt to say when a decision would be reached, but I do not think that this is a matter that will be long delayed: There is a good deal of work involved in examining such an application. The Government has to- be satisfied on the economics of the scheme, the engineering aspects of it, the financial arrangements, and the ancillary works that go with the main settlement. A great deal of work has to be done in making an examination when a very large sura of money is involved as there is on this occasion.
– Has the Minister for Defence noted a press report of 29th April which states that Australia will supply both personnel and equipment to a South-East Asia Treaty Organization military exercise which will take place this month in the Philippines, and that the Federal Government has ordered tight security on this operation? Is the report correct? Will the Minister assure the Senate that if any further deterioration in relations between Malaysia and Indonesia should occur during the parliamentary recess the Government will immediately call a special session of the Parliament?
– The honorable senator says that this Seato exercise is cloaked in some mystery. I do not know why he should say that. I made a statement a day or two ago concerning the exercise and the Australian forces which will take part in it, and my statement was published in most of the press of Australia, Dealing with the honorable senator’s further question, I think it would be quite unwise to assume that the situation in Malaya or Borneo will take such a turn as to make it necessary for the Government even to consider calling the Parliament together. The honorable senator can be assured that the Government is keeping in touch with every development in that area.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Has his attention been drawn to an article in the Melbourne “ Age “ radio and television supplement of 24th-30th April, headed “ Australia on Eve of F.M. Broadcasting “? The article gives little evidence in support of this statement, but if it is in fact true, then, in view of the passing interest shown by me and other honorable senators in this important subject, will he explain why he has kept this delightful secret from us? If the statement is untrue, will he state the present view of the Government so that the exercise of correcting this view may be set in train?
– I have not seen the article referred to. I think the honorable senator underestimates his efforts to promote frequency modulation broadcasting when he refers to his interest in it as a passing interest. I make bold to say that, if the time ever arrives when we introduce frequency modulation, the honorable senator from Victoria will stand acknowledged as one of the chief sponsors of what he regards as a delightful amenity in life. Only the Postmaster-General holds the answer to the honorable senator’s question. As this is a matter of Government policy, 1 think he will keep the answer to himself until the Government’s policy is announced.
(Question No. 29.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
When the Government initiates its inquiry into the level of academic salaries, will it (a) seek recommendations on the individual salaries of university staff positions at all universities, and (b) provide an opportunity for individual staff members or members representing sections of staffs, to present evidence?
– The following answer is supplied: -
In answer to the questions asked by the honorable senator, I can only say that I hope soon to make an announcement concerning the inquiry and that this announcement will clearly indicate the nature of the inquiry. In the mean time I would like to add the assurance that the matters raised by the honorable senator’s questions have been among the many considered by the Government in reaching its decision on the nature of the inquiry.
(Question No. 86.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answer is as follows: -
It is proposed that, under the new Commonwealth Aid Roads legislation covering the 5-year period 1964-69, the grants made to the States by the Commonwealth will be increased by 50 per cent, so that South Australia during this period is expected to receive about £42,750,000. The South Australian Government may spend any part of this grant on roads in the northern part of the State.
In addition, the State has resources of its own which it may devote to roads. The amount of these resources devoted to roads, and in turn the proportion devoted to roads in the north of the State, is a matter for determination by the South Australian Government.
– I present the following report of the Public Accounts Committee: -
Sixty-fifth report - Treasury Minutes on the Fiftieth, Fifty-third, Sixtieth, Sixty-second and Sixty-third reports, together with summaries of those reports.
Ordered to be printed.
-I ask for leave to make a short statement in relation to the report.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
Senator WEDGWOOD (Victoria).- This Sixty-fifth report of the Public Accounts Committee sets out in comparative form the recommendations contained in the Fiftieth, Fifty-third, Sixtieth, Sixty-second and Sixty-third reports of the committee together with the Treasury minutes which it has received and considered. Honorable senators might have noted that, at times, there has been considerable delay in the submission of Treasury minutes indicating what action has been taken to implement the committee’s recommendations. These delays were recently discussed with Treasury representatives and, as a result, the Treasury has undertaken to supply the committee with a half-yearly report on outstanding Treasury minutes indicating progress made by the departments in dealing with the committee’s comments. Where appropriate, these half-yearly reports will be followed by discussions between the Public Accounts Committee and Treasury officers.
Message received from the House of Representatives requesting the concurrence of the Senate in the appointment of a Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory in the following terms: -
That a Joint Committee be appointed to -
examine and report on all proposals for modifications or variations of the plan of layout of the City of Canberra and its environs published in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette on the nineteenth day of November, 1925, as previously modified or varied, which are referred to the Committee by the Minister for the Interior; and
examine and report on such other matters relating to the Australian Capital Territory as may be referred to the Committee by the Minister for the Interior.
That the Committee consist of two members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Prime Minister, two members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, three Senators appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and two Senators appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
That every appointment of a member of the committee be forthwith notified in writing to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
That the members of the committee shall hold office as a joint committee until the House of Representatives expires by dissolution or effluxion of time.
That the committee elect as chairman of the committee one of the members appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate,
That the chairman of the committee may, from time to time, appoint another member of the committee to be the deputy chairman of the committee, and that the member so appointed act us chairman of the committee at any lime when the chairman is not present at a meeting of the committee.
That the committee have power to appoint sub-committees consisting of three or more of its members and to refer to such a sub committee any matter which the committee is empowered to examine.
That the committee have power to send for persons, papers and records and to sit during any recess or adjournment of the Parliament and (luring the sittings of either House of the Parliament.
That the committee have leave to report from lime to time and that any member of the committee have power to add a protest or dissent to any report.
That five members of the committee, including the chairman or deputy chairman, constitute a quorum of the committee, and two members of a sub-committee constitute a quorum of the subcommittee.
That in matters of procedure the chairman or deputy chairman presiding at the meeting have a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of voting, have a casting vote, and that, in other matters, the chairman or deputy chairman have a deliberative vote only.
That the foregoing provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) - by leave - agreed to -
That the Senate concurs in the resolution transmitted to the Senate by Message No. 41 of the House of Representatives with reference to tlx appointment of a joint committee to examine and report on certain matters relating to the Australian Capital Territory.
That the provisions of that resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.
That the foregoing resolutions be communicated to the House of Representatives by message.
Debate resumed from 6th May (vide page 100 1), on motion by Senator Wade -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Senator McKenna had moved by way of amendment -
Leave out all words after “ That “, insert “ The Senate declines to give the bill a second reading as, in the absence of arrangements for a poll of wool-growers in relation to an orderly marketing plan, the proposals increase the contribution by the wool-grower for promotion purposes greatly above a rate equivalent to 10s. per bale and fail to the extent of 10s. per bale to match the wool-growers’ contribution with a Government contribution “.
Senator SCOTT (Western Australia) [11.47J. - When the debate on this bill was adjourned last night I was referring to the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) on behalf of the Australian Labour Party. If this amendment were carried, it would kill the bill. The amendment would prohibit Australian wool-growers having the promotion scheme they want the Government to introduce. During his speech the Leader of the Opposition mentioned two points to which I wish to refer. One of his points was that the present contribution by the wool-growers of 10s. a bale for wool promotion would probably be retained and the balance of the money required would have to be collected on a percentage basis. I understand that the bill provides for a levy of up to 2 per cent, of the sale value of all wool sold and gives the Governor-General power to make regulations prescribing a rate of tax lower than that specified. That means, in fact, that the whole of the amount the growers are to contribute will be collected on a percentage basis.
In the first instance, the amount will be 27s. a bale. I understand that the Leader of the Opposition also said that that would include the 2s. a bale contributed by the growers for wool research. I do not believe that to be correct. I understand that the total contribution by the growers is estimated to be 27s., plus 2s. for research.
The bill is designed to give effect to recommendations for assistance to woolgrowers in their promotion scheme. For the first time in a long period the Government has decided to come in and help to promote wool by giving certain sums of money to the Australian Wool Board which, after subtracting some of the money for promotion in Australia, will give the remainder to the International Wool Secretariat for expenditure throughout the world on promotion. The bill also will change the levy from 10s. per bale to a percentage of the total amount received. The third effect of the bill will be to give the Australian Wool Board borrowing rights so that promotion may be carried on whilst money is awaited from the levy on wool sales.
The Leader of the Opposition said that the Government was following recommendations made by the Australian Labour Party, and that Labour’s policy speech of 1961 proposed the introduction of a wool marketing scheme. I should like to stress that the wool-growers had not at that stage requested the Government or, as far as I know, the Labour Party, to introduce a wool marketing scheme. Therefore, the position is that the Labour Party, not the wool-growers, will decide upon a marketing scheme for wool-growers.
– No doubt honorable senators opposite think that they understand. They say that they do understand. We, too, thought that we did. A little before the honorable senator who interjected was here, but while the Leader of the Opposition was in this Parliament, the Australian Woolgrowers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, which I believe represented from 70 to 80 per cent, of the growers of Australia, came to the Government in 1951 and asked it to introduce a reserve price marketing scheme.
– That is right. It was a stabilization scheme.
– Yes. The Government said: “Yes, we shall do this on your recommendation. Can you give us an assurance that all of the graziers in Western Australia want it? “ I understand that the organization said, “ Yes “. So a scheme was worked out. In the meantime the Government, courageous as it was - and is - applied a levy of 7 i per cent, on all wool sold in Australia in 1951. An amount of £45,000,000 was collected and held in reserve while the Government took a referendum of growers throughout Australia to see whether they wanted a marketing scheme based on a reserve price. Speaking from memory, I think that only one enlightened State, namely Western Australia, voted for it. The State from which Senator Ormonde comes, New South Wales, and Victoria voted heavily against it. If I remember correctly, some 103,000 wool-growers voted and about 70 per cent, were against it, so we could not go ahead with a marketing scheme. I ask the Leader of the Opposition whether the Australian Labour Party would be courageous enough to go ahead with a stabilization or marketing scheme based on a reserve price, in view of the fact that 70 per cent, of the growers were against it.
– Thirteen years ago. Just add those words.
– Thirteen years ago.
– Thank you.
– 1 must be fair, lt is a fact that it was thirteen years ago. But the Leader of the Opposition said last night that the Australian Labour Party was leading in this field, it would, I believe, introduce a marketing scheme with a reserve price. I gather from the policy speech that Labour would have introduced such a scheme if it had been elected in 1961, when the growers had not agreed that they wanted such a scheme. This Government has always said that if the majority of producers in an industry wanted a stabilization or marketing scheme it would come to the party with them. That is what is happening now. The Australian Wool Industry Conference was established following an inquiry into the industry. It has some 50 members, most of whom are wool-growers. It has established a committee to inquire into wool marketing problems. The committee’s report, as the Leader of the Opposition mentioned, will be available, it is hoped, in
June or July of this year. The Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry, which the Government appointed in 1961, made certain recommendations but, due to the complex nature of wool marketing, it did not make a specific recommendation in that regard, because the research that it would have to do in this field would take several years. One of its recommendations was for the establishment of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. it recommended also that a special committee be appointed to inquire into and report to the board on marketing. So, having been knocked back by the growers in 1951-52, we are waiting to ascertain definitely the wishes of the growers before we carry on. The conference has suggested that in the meantime, an amount of money be obtained to proceed with wool promotion throughout the world. As we know from the Minister’s speech, wool promotion has been going on since 1936 or 1937, when the levy was 6d. a bale. Prior to this legislation it had reached the levels of 10s. a bale for promotion and 2s. a bale for research. This was the grower contribution, and the Government contributed an additional 4s. a bale solely for research.
The proposal now is for the growers to increase their contribution from the present 10s. a bale, which gives a total of £2,500,000, to 27s. a bale, which would give an additional £4,250,000. When Sir William Gunn was travelling around the country addressing meetings of wool-growers, the request of the Australian Wool Industry Conference was that the whole of the money for wool promotion required to be obtained in Australia for the International Wool Secretariat should be raised from the growers by a levy of approximately 44s. a bale. Meetings were held throughout Australia, but the wool-growers were a little averse to that proposition.
– A little averse?
– In my State, I believe that the growers agreed to the proposition, but Western Australia is a progressive State and probably the thinking there is a little more advanced than in the rest of Australia. Some opposition was encountered, and I believe that a few eggs and tomatoes were thrown at one meeting. It was then decided, in view of the large amount involved and because the wool industry, which contributes between 30 per cent, and 50 per cent, of the nation’s export income, is of great importance not only to the woolgrowers of Australia but to all sections of the community, that an approach would be made to the Commonwealth Government for some assistance in the promotion campaign. The leaders of the Government were interviewed and it was announced shortly thereafter that the Government would come to the party and contribute with the growers on a £1 for £1 basis the money that was required in excess of that raised by the levy of 10s. a bale.
Today we have the situation that the growers contribute an amount equal to the income from a levy of 10s. a bale. That money is collected on a percentage basis. They also contribute the equivalent of a further levy of 17s. a bale, or £4,250,000, giving a total of £6,750,000. The Government matches the contribution of £4,250,000, giving an overall total of £11,000,900, which is equivalent to a levy ot 44s. a bale. The total grower contribution for promotion will be the equivalent of a levy of 27s. a bale and, for wool research, of a further 2s. a bale, making the total grower contribution for promotion and research 29s. a bale. When I asked the Leader of the Opposition whether the total was 27s. a bale, he said that included in the 27s., in his opinion, was the 2s. provided for wool research. However, the 2s. is an additional amount, making the total contribution 29s. a bale. The Government’s contribution for promotion is estimated to be the equivalent of 17s. a bale and, for research, of 4s. a bale, giving a total Government contribution of 21s. a bale. If we add the two totals together, we find that the total contribution by the growers and the Government for promotion and research is 50s. a bale. Assuming there are 5,000,000 bales, the total grower contribution, at 29s. a bale, would represent about £7,250,000, and the Government’s contribution of 17s. for promotion and 4s. for research would represent about £5,250,000, making a total of £12,500,000 for wool promotion and research.
I noticed that some speakers in another place argued that collecting this money on the basis of 2 per cent, of the total revenue received would be very hard on the woolgrowers. The charge is levied on the gross return from wool. They advanced the argument that the gross return from a small wool clip might be £4,000 and that the grower would contribute, at 2 per cent., £80, but on that gross return the grower’s net income might be less than £800, so the total contribution would be equal to about 10 per cent, of his net income.
– How do the growers get on when there is a drop of 10 per cent, in prices at one sale? Would they not be wiped out altogether?
– I have never seen woolgrowers wiped out in my State yet. They come up fighting. They frequently experience drops of 10 per cent, for wool prices, even in one sale, but they take it. They have to take it. They rejoice, too, because sometimes they get a 10 per cent, rise in wool prices. They take that also. In my opinion, a percentage basis for this charge is much fairer. Different types of wool are grown throughout Australia.
– And in various States, too.
– Yes. A grower who produces very coarse cross-bred wool may receive only £40 a bale - some growers do receive as little as that - and he would have had to pay 10s. a bale by way of contribution under the old system. On that basis, he would have to contribute a lot more to raise the money now required - 29s. a bale. However growers producing wool in the rich State of Victoria, where they receive 450d. per lb., or £300 a bale, would still pay only 29s. a bale. This would be terribly unfair.
We are altering the levy to a percentage basis and the growers will pay according to the amounts they receive for their wool. I do not think that anybody is raising objection to that course being adopted. It seems to me to be the fairest way of doing it.
The wool industry has experienced many ups and downs. I want to refer back to the years after the 1914-18 War when there was a surplus of some 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 bales of wool. There was no organized marketing scheme to dispose of the surplus. There were many debates in the Senate and in the other place about what was to be done with the surplus wool. On reading the report of the debates, I noticed that many speakers on both sides had suggested that the solution to the problem was to load the wool onto a ship, take it out to sea and dump it, because in 1921 the price of wool had fallen to 3d. per lb., and some of it was unsaleable.
At the request of the growers the Government brought down a bill to prohibit the sale of wool for less than 8d. per lb. The wool-buyers objected strongly. Following the introduction of the legislation, a wool sale was held in February or March, 1921, and the wool-buyers boycotted it. The selling programme went ahead, and at the next sale held a month later the woolbuyers attended and paid 8d. per lb. That happened just prior to the setting up of the British Australian Wool Realization Association Limited. It was following recommendations from that association that the Government decided on a reserve price plan for selling wool. Following the setting up of Bawra in 1921 all the wool was sold at a profitable price to the wool-growers. From March, 1921 to 1925, 4,000,000 or 5,000.000 bales of surplus wool were sold and large sums of money were returned to the growers.
It was then decided that a marketing scheme should take the place of Bawra because, as all the surplus wool had been sold by 1925, there was no necessity for Bawra to continue as an organization to dispose of surplus wool. The Government was of the opinion that a referendum of growers should be held to decide whether a reserve price marketing scheme should be introduced to replace Bawra. The referendum of growers was held in, I think, 1926. Before the marketing scheme could be introduced by the Government - I do not even know the political colour of the Government at the time-
– It was not a Labour government.
– It was the Bruce-Page Government,
– Were you here?
-I was not here.
– Under the legislation, 75 per cent, of growers had to be in favour of a marketing scheme before it could be introduced. The referendum was held throughout the Commonwealth and only 74 per cent, of growers voted in favour of the marketing scheme. Bawra was then wound up and the system of marketing wool by auction was resumed.
From 1926 to 1939 the auction system of marketing wool prevailed. Wool was sold for approximately the cost of production, but not much more. During the depression years from 1929 to 1931 the price of wool fell to 6d. or 7d. per 1b. Between 1931 and 1939 there were only one or two years in which wool was sold at a price in excess of1s. per lb. During the years 1937, 1938 and 1939 the average price of wool was less than1s. per lb. Wool-growers thought they were made if they could get Is. per lb. I was a woolgrower. War broke out in 1939 and the British Government, in conjunction with the Australian Government, set up the Central Wool Committee to handle the sale of the entire wool clip for the duration of the war and one year after. The initial price was101/2d. sterling or 13.141 6d. Australian per lb.
– It was lifted to1s. 3d. per lb.
– I am coining to that. In 1939 an appraisal scheme was set up whereby the average price of wool was to be 13.1 41 6d. Australian per lb. That price held until 1942 when it was increased to 151/2d. per lb. In 1946 the Joint Organization was established to handle the whole of the surplus wool clip, the surplus in Australia at the time being approximately 10,000,000 bales. The total surplus handled by the Joint Organization was between 12,000,000 and 13,000,000 bales. It was stated after the war that it would be almost impossible to sell that wool profitably. It took until 1952 to dispose of the surplus and wool that had been produced in the meantime.
– Did not the British Government and the Australian Government share the cost?
– The idea was that the two governments would share the cost. Large profits were made by the Joint Organization and the growers were happy to receive year by year payments to finalize the sales of surplus wool together with payments for wool that was still being produced each year. At the request of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, the Government decided to retain the reserve price scheme, that being the scheme under which all sales were made by the Joint Organization following the war.
At the request of the two producer organizations, in J 95 1 the Government imposed a levy on wool which, together with certain other revenues, produced a total sum of £45,000,000. Then the growers held a referendum and rejected the scheme. They wanted to go back to the ordinary auction system. The Government then had to refund all that money to the growers. So we returned to the auction system, and prices have varied from year to year ever since.
However, the wool-growers themselves are not satisfied with the auction system. In 1962 the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation established the Australian Wool Industry Conference, which has appointed a special committee to inquire into and report upon the marketing of wool. That committee will report to the Wool Industry Conference in June or July of this year. The industry and the Government are awaiting that report with interest. I should not like to say whether, following the submission of that report, another referendum of the growers will be held.
We must realize that the wool industry will face increasing competition from the manufacturers of man-made fibres and that it will be necessary to take steps to sell wool on the overseas markets at reasonable prices. It is interesting to note that over the last five years the consumption of woollen goods, as a proportion of garments made from all kinds of fabric, has dropped from 11 per cent, to 10 per cent, and that the consumption of garments manufactured from man-made fibres has risen by 5 per cent. Wc have been informed that this year the manufacturers of synthetic fibres will be reducing their overall prices to the manufacturers of garments. That will provide even greater competition for wool.
Many people, including a number of growers, are of the opinion that the sum of 10s. per bale which has been contributed in the past has not had the desired result. I am convinced that without promotion the price obtained for wool would be much lower than it is. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) said last night that the Parliament had not been told how much money had been spent on promotion overseas. We know the Government’s contribution and what the Australian growers contribute. We know what the International Wool Secretariat receives to enable it to carry out its promotion programme. We do not know what other money is available for the promotion of wool, although we do know that woollen manufacturers overseas are eager to promote the sale of wool and that when representatives of the International Wool Secretariat approach them with a scheme to spend in their country a certain sum of money on wool promotion they indicate their willingness to come to the paTty to the extent of as much as 50 per cent.
– The textile people probably would be more interested in the establishment of pilot wool stations for the purpose of testing wool and so forth.
– That kind of activity is being encouraged by International Wool Secretariat, in conjunction with its promotion programme. The International Wool Secretariat is establishing such centres in main markets so that woollen manufacturers may see the latest methods of handling wool, including the Si-Ro-Set process and the manufacture of drip-dry garments and non-shrink socks. The publicizing of these processes gives the woollen manufacturers fresh impetus and they go forward with the idea that woollen apparel is really worthwhile.
The industry has decided to promote its product in a big way. Wool promotion is not a new idea, but the large scale promotion of wool is quite new. Money has been made available for promotion since 1937. The proposed expenditure of £16,250,000 annually will help the Australian economy by assisting the producers of wool to get a reasonable price for their product. Not one of the big firms throughout the world would hesitate for one moment to spend 2 per cent., 3 per cent., or even 5 per cent, of their gross return on advertising. I am told that some of the bigger firms are quite happy if at the end of the year the cost of their advertising is less than 5 per cent, of their total receipts.
– Cigarette people spend about three-quarters of their receipts.
– I am talking about the big retail stores throughout the world. We have them in the capital cities of Australia. If you pick up any newspaper you will see full-page advertisements costing hundreds of pounds advertising the goods they have for sale. If these firms believe they can make a profit by spending 5 per cent, of their gross return on advertising, the Australian Government and the Australian woolgrowers are doing the right thing in spending a large amount of money throughout the world in advertising their products. Therefore, 1 have much pleasure in supporting the bill.
– Senator Scott has given the Senate an interesting story of the vagaries of the wool industry since the First World War. For those who are not familiar with the ups and downs of life in the most important primary industry in this country his contribution was very valuable. But I wish to join issue with Senator Scott on his opening gambit when he referred to the purpose of the Opposition in moving its amendment. Senator McKenna moved -
Leave out all words after “That”, insert: - “ The Senate declines to give the bill a second reading as, in the absence of arrangements for a poll of wool-growers in relation to an orderly marketing plan, the proposals increase the contribution by the wool-grower for promotion purposes greatly above a rate equivalent to 10s. per bale and fail to the extent of 10s. per bale to match the wool-growers’ contribution with a Government contribution “.
The whole story that Senator Scott unfolded of the wool industry highlighted the fact that times of prosperity for the industry occurred only when some form of assistance, in the way of marketing or price stabilization, was given by the Government, or when Government action was taken to come to the aid of the wool-growers to get them out of the mire. Senator Scott has admitted that out of his own mouth.
– That is right.
– He admits that that is a fact.
-I do admit it.
– It is my intention to show that the Australian Labour Party’s policy is directed towards common sense being introduced into the marketing of all our products. I have a good basis on which to continue as a result of the admission made by Senator Scott. The honorable senator differs from Senator Wade, who said that wool-growers are sturdy individualists who can look after their own business. Senator Scott has blown that argument out completely:
Wool-growers must have assistance. Not only have they an inherent resistance towards unity amongst themselves but they have a wider resistance because they are handling a product which is of such tremendous importance to our whole economy. They have therefore to be led along by persuasive means to show them what is to their advantage.
– They do not mind being led along but they do not like being projected along.
– That is a matter of relativity. A bull does not like a ring being put through its nose, but when you put a bit of pressure on the rope and the bull feels the old familiar tingle in his nose he will follow. Sir William Gunn has been cleverly doing what you might call the bull-ring trick. At times 1 thought he was quite capable of having a little batterycharged prodder to give them a prod. I am quite certain that Sir William Gunn appreciates the tremendous importance of this matter to the individual wool-grower, in the first place for his own prosperity, and, in the broader issue, for the prosperity of the whole nation. The Government’s entry into the wool industry, as has been proved in the past, can be only to the advantage of the wool-growers. Let me illustrate what is implied in the Opposition’s amendment. The new levy on wool-growers of 2 per cent, of the value of their wool is estimated to yield £6,750,000. That is the amount that will be collected by the Treasury.
– The sale of wool last year amounted to £400,000,000, so that a 2 per cent. levy would bring in £8,000,000, but what is required is £6,750,000.
– They are hoping to raise that much. The yield may be up and the price may be down but that is a matter I will develop later on. However, the Australian Wool Board hopes that £6,750,000 will be raised from a levy of 2 per cent, on the value of the wool. After the money is collected by the Treasury, the Government will pay it to the Australian Wool Board less an amount of 2s. a bale which will be used for research purposes. The Government will pay to the board by way of subsidy the amount of £6,750,000, less 10s. a bale, which amounts to £2,500,000. Thus the Government contribution to match the £6,750,000 of the wool-growers will be £4,250,000. Then the Government will deduct also 2s. a bale for research purposes, or £500,000. This will reduce the Government’s con.bution to £3,750,000. On top of that the Government will subsidize the contribution made by the wool-grower towards research by 4s. a bale, which will add an estimated £1,000,000. So we have £4,750,000 being provided by the Commonwealth Government out of Consolidated Revenue and the wool-growers themselves supplying £6,750,000. Because of the importance of the industry and because of the very case that has been put forward by the Minister in his second-reading speech on (he vital challenge to our export markets from synthetic fibres, it is the Opposition’s view that the Government should be taking the initiative in this matter. lt is not only the wool-grower who is to be put on a better footing so that he oan pay his bills, purchase more food for the household, modernize his shearing shed, get new equipment including tractors, buy some new wire netting for his sub-divisional fences, and invest in some better quality rams to improve his property.
There is to be a payment of 27s. by the wool-growers, comprised of 10s. a bale plus 17s. estimated yield, to be matched by a 37s. subsidy by the Commonwealth Government with 4s. going to the research subsidy. That will amount to another £1,000,000 provided by the Commonwealth Government. The picture that has been created is unfair, because the Government is taking credit for doing these things for the good of the wool industry and the national economy, when it does them on the cheap. The Government grants ex gratia subsidies to certain activities, and matches £1 for £1 the moneys raised in other directions. 1 do nol know whether the increased amount of 10s. per bale that the wool-grower pays in comparison to the Government’s contribution is likely to give the wool-grower himself a feeling of independence. Broadly speaking, it is an uneven matching and one that we on this side of the Senate believe should be adjusted. For that reason, the Opposition has asked that arrangements be made for a poll of wool-growers in relation to an orderly marketing plan.
The International Wool Secretariat is a body which comprises three wool-growing countries - Australia, New Zealand and
South Africa. That body is very much aware of the great change that has taken place over the past ten years in the industry through the competition of synthetic fibres which, although they have certain price advantages, cannot match the inherent qualities of the wool. The synthetics are being presented to the world markets in a sufficiently attractive form now to make an impact on wool use. Therefore, the International Wool Secretariat has a very great responsibility to the whole of the woolproducing fraternity of the western world to reduce the percentage of the wool market that has been captured by synthetic fibres. The setting-up of the International Wool Secretariat is very commendable. It gives an indication of what could be done in the future with the products of the wool industry.
Unfortunately, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have always been restricted in the matter of finance which is needed to carry on a campaign of wool promotion which not only would match the campaigns of their very active competitors in the synthetic fibres industry, but also could make an impact on the minds of the consumers and could create a new image of wool in the eyes of the public.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was speaking of the main purpose of the International Wool Secretariat, which is to open up channels for the sale of Australian wool products which so far have not been completely available. I mentioned the necessity for creating a world-wide image of the superiority of Australian wool or of wool generally. We must always remember that, in the International Wool Secretariat, we have a close trading combination and a common purpose with the woolgrowers of New Zealand and South Africa. The legislation which is before us is designed to authorize the imposition of levies which will to a certain extent meet the anticipated expenses of an almost world-wide campaign of wool promotion, along the lines of high pressure, modern, well-directed propaganda and salesmanship.
It is of great interest to look at the organizational structure of the International Wool Secretariat. The three countries basically concerned - Australia, New Zealand and South Africa - have all established wool boards. As we all know, the Australian Wool Board is the successor to the Australian Wool Bureau. Similar organizations have been set up and are functioning in both New Zealand and South Africa. In addition to the boards set up by the three countries, there is the International Wool Secretariat, on which Australia has been given the privilege of majority membership. lt is our good fortune to have secured the services of Mr. Vines, a man who is seised of the gravity of the challenge confronting the wool industry, as managing director of the International Wool Secretariat.
Under the apex of the organizational pyramid of this body there are departments of administration, publicity, product development, economics and research. Then there are wool bureaus for the United States of America and Canada and regional directorates for Europe, Japan and India as well as a directorate of market development for the Asian region. The organization also has direct contact with offices which have been set up in Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. There are also technical and promotional organizations in Greece, Turkey and other Mediterranean countries. This is a progressive world-wide organization, with power to act. It is pleasing to know that since the publication of the document which I have before me now two new offices have been opened in Spain and in Australia.
It is also pleasing to see the way in which this world-wide approach is being made by the International Wool Secretariat to the promotion and sale of wool. I think we can take it for granted that, having sufficient funds, the administration of the International Wool Secretariat will select the best men available for its task. These are days of intense competition, with one fibre competing against another, but perhaps the greatest competition is to be found amongst those who are seeking men of high intelligence and high quality - men who can not only do the jobs required of them but also can project their personal images. I feel certain that the International Wool Secretariat will carefully select its representatives in the various countries in which it operates, because you very often judge a product on your first impression of the man with whom you have to deal. A product may be good, but the man who is selling it moulds your first impressions for good or ill. This is a most important matter. I feel quite sure that those at the apex of the International Wool Secretariat have the width of vision to enable them to select the necessary personnel. That will establish the main form of contact.
Perhaps at this point it would be well to examine the difficulties that confront the International Wool Secretariat. I have before me the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry, published in February of 1962. It is a most enlightening document. Amongst many other interesting items, it gives a classification of the prices of Australian wool over a period of years. But let me deal first with the quality of Australian wool. It is essential to impress the world with the quality of our wool. We should be able to supply the world with high-quality wool fabrics. The traditional fine merino wool has been sought after by manufacturers of high-quality textiles, dress materials and the like. The figures supplied in the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry show that between 1944-45 and 1945-46 our fine wools - the 70’s and finer - decreased from 4.2 per cent, to 3.4 per cent, of our total wool clip. The percentage rose slightly in 1946-47, to 4.3 per cent., and then there was a fall, to 3.7 per cent, in 1947-48. In 1952-53 there was a fall to 3 per cent., and in 1953-54 a further fall to 2.7 per cent. By 1955-56 the proportion had fallen to 2.1 per cent. Since then it has hovered around 2.5 per cent, of our total wool clip.
To my mind this is an indication of the great need for an organization to go out into the markets of the world and to bring back an incentive for Australian growers to produce fine wool. After all, in Australia we have the climatic conditions, the broad acres and the strain of merino sheep to produce better wool than that grown in any other part of the world. But we have seen a drift away from this exclusive Australian fine wool to the bulkier type of broader spinning wools because of sheer economic pressure.
To illustrate this point I will cite the fine medium range of 64’s to 70’s. This comprised 34.8 per cent, of the clip in ] 944-45. The percentage dropped to 34 per cent, in 1951-52 and went as low as 25.6 per cent, in 1956-57. The report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry shows that in 1962 when the report was presented, the fine medium wools formed 23 per cent, of the clip. Now 26.4 per cent, of the total wool clip is represented by the exclusively Australian type of wool compared with more than 40 per cent, in previous years. That is a big decline because Australia relies on this type to create the image of a fine Australian wool.
I can illustrate this point as I have here with me a fibre of Tasmanian-grown wool. One would need a good eye to be able to gauge its spinning quality but its rating could be anything from 90 to 95. Ils quality is due partly to the type of country on which it was grown. Those who produce this wool do so with an eye to the Italian market. Italians arc noted, of course, for their extremely expert technique in weaving worsteds and so they seek this particular type of fine spinning wool.
Honorable senators probably know that every pound of wool that is spun should give a certain yardage of yarn. If it has a spinning quality of 50 it could be expected to give 50 hanks to 1 lb. of wool which is equal to about 5,000 yards of yarn. If it is a 70 it will provide 7,000 yards. The finer the yarn the finer the weave of cloth. That accounts for the difference between the finer cloths and the tweeds which are rough to the touch. But the worsteds have their purposes as do the tweeds and the Scottish and Irish weaves which are coarse compared with the finer fabrics. That is the reason for the use of various qualities of wool.
The point I am making is this: That the fineness, the staple, the elasticity and the durability of Australian wool are unequalled anywhere yet these figures show that production of that type of wool is declining in proportion to the total clip.
– The actual quantity is not declining.
– These figures represent a percentage decline and the quality is also declining.
– The overall production has increased.
– The number of sheep has increased but the number of flocks and the amount of wool are also declining as far as these fine wools arc concerned. The report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry shows that the proportion of wool of 60 to 64 quality has risen from 36.7 per cent, in 1944-45 to 50.1 per cent, in 1958-59 so that medium strong wools comprise about half the wool clip.
Medium strong wools oan be grown practically anywhere. Wool of that quality yields a serviceable fabric and one that, is in great demand. To many people in many parts of the world a suit or dress made from material of that quality would be a luxury. But our objective is to project an image of exclusive Australian merino wools of fine type. It is notable that English breeds which produce wool of a broader and coarser type beginning with 58’s and 56’s have more or less kept their place. Wools of 50’s and coarser types have increased from 4 per cent, up to 5.6 per cent, of total production. These figures show that there has been a trend away from fine wool breeding.
I believe the Australian Wool Board should accept the responsibility of assuring growers of fine wools that special emphasis will be placed on the sale of our best quality wool - our top-making wool - so that there will be a continuity of supply and so that growers who specialize in the production of wools of this type will get adequate recompense.
The need for action such as this is not confined to fine wool. It is interesting lo note that over a period of years there has been a tremendous fluctuation in wool prices. Senator Scott referred to the fluctuating fortunes of the wool-growers and that matter is reflected in a table published on page 4 of the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry. The table shows that the average price for greasy wool was 24.49d. per lb. in 1946-47. The following year the price rose to 39. 5d. per lb. In following successive years the average price was 48d., 63d. and 144d. These figures reveal the instability in wool prices. Over a period of five years, the average price varied from 24.49d. per lb. to 144d. Strangely enough, in the next year, 1951-52, the price fell to 72d. per lb., which was exactly half. Since then prices have fluctuated greatly, being 81 d., 70d., 61 d., 69d., 62d., 48d., 57d. and 52d. The price is now gradually rising and is up to 70d. at present. It is not good enough for an organization such as the International Wool
Secretariat to have such uncertainty when it is trying to sell a commodity without a price tag. It is working at a great disadvantage when it is unable to say, in the countries to which it, goes, “ You will be able to plan your industry next year on a price which will be competitive on the world market or on the local market “.
We have established an organization that will conduct promotion. We are assisting the industry as much as we can in a haphazard way. I can illustrate this by saying that the subsidy on superphosphate, granted by the Government in fulfilment of its election promise, is more or less only adding to the frustration of the grazier, for the simple reason that the fertilizer industry is completely unable to meet the demand. The industry is trying to fit in with the onward movement of the wool industry but I am given to understand that the backlog of demand for the fertilizer is causing a condition approaching the chaotic stage. It is quite easy to understand that fertilizer producers will do their best to supply their commodity, but the fact is that they did not anticipate any big expansion of demand. There has been a lack of co-ordination between the Government, the wool industry and the manufacturers of fertilizers. It is interesting to note that although companies cannot fully meet the demand of the woolgrowers who require fertilizers for their land, on the stock exchange the shares of these companies have taken a fantastic leap forward. The man who wants to make money out of the grazier and out of the Government has anticipated the expansion, so these shares have skyrocketed. The manufacturers cannot meet the demand. From what I can gather, this position has not been dealt with even yet, although there is practically an emergency.
I understand that representations have been made to the Government for extra imports of rock phosphate. From the latest reports, it appears that these supplies are not immediately available’ and there is no saying when adequate supplies will come. I understand that many of the farmers’ organizations are applying to the Government for the subsidy of £3 per ton to apply to imported super.
Associated with the wool industry we have plenty of committees that can advise the Government in a crisis like this. While fertilizer manufacturers are increasing their potential for production, while they are, if they can, finding new areas for the supply of rock phosphate, let imports come in to meet the demand, and if necessary pay the subsidy of £3 per ton. The soil and the season do not wait for the super. The fertilizer should be used at the farmers discretion as to what is the proper time. A spoke is being put in the wheel of progress and the wool industry is affected.
I have spoken briefly about the wool clip and about superphosphate. I should like to develop this by saying that there is a continuous effort amongst our stud breeders to improve the standard of the rams that are going cut into the general flocks of the country. People in the industry have been influenced by the popularity of the medium or strongmedium type of wool, and the trend has been towards the breeding of stud rams to supply that market. To attack this problem, we must go right back to the beginning and give an incentive to those people to embark on a programme for the recapture of a percentage of the market for finer wools, and even for an increase in the former percentage. The more sophisticated European market, where a big proportion of our wool is sold, has found that people, instead of wearing the old, shabby clothes of the past, are going out in their finery. They want to be well dressed. I must say that my eyes have been opened considerably to what can be done by the proper display of wool. I am not a very keen visitor to mannequin parades, but in the past two or three years I have been more or less forced by circumstances beyond my control to attend them in company with my wife. The result is that I have developed a greater interest in the subject. There is no shadow of doubt that a well-fashioned woollen fabric dress, costume or garment, can leave the others for dead. I am convinced that the International Wool Secretariat will win out in the battle in front of it, because the fabrics will make their way by the way they are made. This goes right back to our sources of supply. We must anticipate increased demand for finer quality wool. We cannot easily persuade the determined man on the land to change in even a small way the rhythm of his annual production.
– Is one type easier to produce than the other?
– No, the programme is exactly the same. It is a matter of selecting basic top stud stock. If a producer is to move from medium quality, he must pick the best of his medium quality ewes and try to build up with an extra fine wool ram. The process is gradual but over a period of some years one can lift the fineness of the wool, lt is a long drawn-out process but it must start somewhere. The downward process has been continuing for twenty years. There has been a drop of 2 per cent, in that time. It would not take so long to regain the position, if the grower of fine wool were acquainted of the potential developed as a result of the secretariat’s activities in Europe and elsewhere abroad. So we come back to the difficulties that are to be met with in the organization of the wool industry. Those associated with the industry have at last realized however, that unity is strength and that if growers do not organize and unite they can be easily defeated. I believe that this will have repercussions from one end of the industry to the other.
However, there arc road blocks in the way of progress. I speak of the traditional but, to me, wasteful and often dishonest auction system, which is the load that the wool industry seems destined to carry. I think it persists only because the people most interested in the continuation of the system have the strongest voices with which to tell the farmers that this is the best system for them, or they have the best publicity agents to sell their image. However, the facts are available for every one to sec. The auction system is disastrous because of the tremendous fluctuations in prices that 1 have mentioned. In one year wool may bring 144d. per lb. and the next year 72d. per lb. The Korean war was responsible for prices going very high. Nevertheless our wool has been sold every year. That is the amazing feature of this industry. We are spending money to promote the sale of wool, but our wool has always been sold. It is a sought after commodity. Even when wool prices are low, there is little alteration to the price of the end product. I have never been able to get a new suit cheaper than the one I have been wearing. Every time I have to bu’y a new suit the price seems to have increased by anything from 10s. to 30s. I can remember when luxury suits were advertised for seven guineas, and a second pair of trousers was supplied free.
– That was a long time ago.
– It was not. To-day the average good quality suit costs from £30 to £35.
– That would be tailormade. You can get a suit off the hook for much less than that.
– It all depends. You can get a suit from a shoddy tailor and it can turn out to be a bag.
– You have been talking of tailor-made suits?
– Yes. After all, you try to dress old mutton up as lamb, and the tailor helps you do it. If you look in the shop windows of any major firm you will find that good quality suits are in the £35 range.
– Is there’ such a thing as an all-wool suit to-day?
– Yes. The suit I am wearing is all-wool except for the lining. It is a fine quality cloth. The wastefulness of the auction system from the point of view of our nation and of our wool . industry is more than we should be asked to bear. On page 24 of the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry the following appears: -
Wool price fluctuations must be regarded as a disadvantage to the use of wool in competition with the more stable-priced synthetics. The disadvantage to wool would be greater in periods when there is little margin between the market prices of synthetic fibres and the types of wool used for similar purposes.
The auction system constitutes a road block, but there is a proposal that can help to remove it. It is embodied in the reserve price marketing plan. This is one of the big issues that requires to be settled by the wool industry. During times of organized wool marketing - in the war years - stability and profitability came to the industry. The wool-grower could plan ahead, and this brought a measure of prosperity and certainty to the industry. On the other hand, the full force of the activities of the organized auctioneers and of the rather loose set-up of wool buying pies is reflected in the figures I have quoted. The man who grows the product does not know from year to year whether he will be able to pay his way. He has no idea whether he will finish on the right or wrong side of the ledger. 1 have with mc a letter from the Australian Wool Marketing Committee, which I believe presents a strong case. It submits that the wool-growers should not be misled into believing that a reserve price marketing plan for Australia would not be financially practicable. The committee claims that a reserve price scheme along the lines of the schemes that are successfully operating in New Zealand and South Africa would not be practicable in Australia, but that a 5 per cent, grower levy on sales, preceded by a bank advance of 50 per cent, against the cost of wool, would enable a buy-in of 10 per cent, of offerings. The letter states that with a protective reserve average of 60d. per lb. - that is below the present ruling price, but, as has been mentioned before, there has been a 10 per cent, fall in the last two or three weeks - the 5 per cent, levy would yield £18,500,000 on the basis of 5,000,000 bales, and a conservative bank advance of 50 per cent, against the cost of the 10 per cent, buy-in would produce the same amount, making a total of £37,000,000. With an organized marketing plan the growers could base their economy on somewhere near present prices, and this could bring about some of the objectives that the growers are seeking. The grower wants to be able to pay his way. He wants also to be able to improve the carrying capacity of his land. He should be able to expect a return on his capital equal at least to the interest on a savings bank account. If we examine the figures for the industry throughout Australia, we see that the return on capital is less than the return on an investment in a savings bank. The wool-grower should also plan for improvement in the quality of his flock and in so doing contribute to the national income and the efficiency of the industry. Without an efficient industry the International Wool Secretariat cannot operate to its best advantage. These are matters that need to be straightened out in the industry.
Another weakness in the industry is the lack of top-making facilities in Australia. To pay high freight charges to send grass seed, dust and yolk half way across the Commonwealth to the seaboard, and then to send them by ship half way across the world, is an act of economic folly. Yet that is what happens in the Australian wool industry. It has paid many buyers to purchase wool in its greasy state and to have it scoured overseas. Until recently the buyers were able to increase the weight of wool by taking it from the dry western areas of Queensland and New South Wales through the humid equatorial regions. The increase in weight caused by the humid conditions practically paid the freight to the other side of the world. All those little lurks within the industry operate to the disadvantage of the Australian wool-grower because they reduce the price that he eventually receives for his wool. At the other end of the line the consumer also is meeting the added costs.
If there was a floor price for wool or an organized marketing system under which wool could be bought on a clean scoured basis, the wool-grower would receive an increased price for his wool. The system of selling wool would be much more simple because when it was scoured, particularly if it was properly classed, better qualities and types of wool could be made available and the customers would be assured of continuity of supply. There is a need for efficiency such as that illustrated at the top level by the International Wool Secretariat, right throughout the wool industry. The secretariat is operating on an economic and scientific basis. It wants only the best. It wishes to use the most modern media for promoting wool. It requires plenty of finance to be able to give practical demonstrations of the uses of wool over the radio and on television, in newspapers and magazines, and by any other method that will enable it to sell Australian wool.
I hope that the secretariat’s level of efficiency will set an example to all connected with the industry and that it will inspire them to do a little better in their respective fields. In doing a little better for themselves they will be doing a lot for the country. They will be building up a priceless asset. This exclusive thing, Australian wool, has been sought after ever since the first settlement of Australia. Those within the industry should do what they can to enable wool to hold its own with other fibres, man-made or natural, and to surpass them. The Government has not given the wool industry the same assistance that it has given to other organizations, but the bastion has now been breached and the Government is providing a subsidy for the wool-growers.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I rise to support the bills before the Senate. I point out that these bills have three purposes. First, they make provision for the Government to contribute funds for expanded wool promotion activities. Secondly, they seek to change the woolgrowers’ contributions for promotion and research and also to alter the manner in which the levy is to be collected, and thirdly, they give the Australian Wool Board borrowing rights to help it to overcome temporary short-falls in revenue. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wade) read a first time.
. -I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of this bill is to amend the Apple and Pear Organization Act 1938-1960 to give the Australian Apple and Pear Board power, directly under the act, to control the quantities of fruit which may be shipped to a particular country or countries, a power which the board currently can apply but only in an indirect and administratively clumsy way through the licences and permits regulations made under the act. The bill also seeks to amend the existing formula for allocating export quotas to the States, which could prove unsatisfactory in the light of changing production patterns in the industry. The opportunity has also been taken in the bill to make two machinery amendments.
The powers of the board to control exports arc contained in section 14 of the act. This section authorizes the board to determine the total quantity of apples and pears which may be exported from Australia in any year and the basis on which such a quantity will be distributed amongst the States. The section also provides that, unless the board is unanimous in its determinations on these matters, the Minister shall have the final authority regarding the quantity to be exported and the allocation between States.
The board has never imposed restrictions on the total quantity exported and, therefore, the question of allocation between States of the total quantity has never arisen. The board has, however, found it necessary in the overall interests of the industry and to prevent the spoiling of the United Kingdom market, to determine the maximum quantity which could be shipped to a specific market, namely the United Kingdom, and occasionally in years of heavy export availability, to allocate that quantity amongst the States. In doing this the board has relied to dale on the powers which it felt were implicit in section 14. Some exporters have, however, been irritated by this form of control and the board has accordingly recommended that the act be amended to state the position in a way which leaves no room for doubt regarding its powers under the act to determine maximum quantities for specific export markets and, if necessary, to allocate that quantity amongst the States.
I am sure that honorable senators will agree with me that the power to control exports to particular markets is synonymous with the board’s duty to ensure the orderly overseas marketing of apples and pears and it is essential that any possible doubts regarding its legal power to do this should be put to rest by a specific reference to this power in the act.
If the board were forced to rely on its powers under the regulations - which, as I said previously, would be administratively clumsy - it would be obliged to allocate quotas for, say, the United Kingdom to seventy-odd licensed exporters. Apart from the not inconsiderable administrative difficulties involved, one particularly undesirable situation which could arise if the board adopted this practice is that growers might be forced, by decisions of the board, into the hands of quota holders with whom they might not normally wish to deal and this could inhibit competition by exporters for available fruit. Obviously, this is not in the best interests of the industry.
The board has fully informed the growers’ and shippers’ organizations in all States of its proposals and it has received no objection to their implementation. The Australian Apple and Pear Shippers Association, representing the shippers of over 80 per cent, of apple and pear exports, has informed the board - a grower dominated body - that it agrees with the proposals.
At present, section 14 of the act provides that the board shall have regard to certain criteria in determining the basis of allocation of total exports between the States - in particular, that it should have regard, to the average exports from the States over the previous three years. The board feels that in certain circumstances, this restriction which is imposed by the act could, in fact, lead to inequities, and has requested that its duty to make allocations between States on an equitable basis should be expressed in more general terms. All that is required from the legal point of view is that the act should provide that the allocation should not result in a preference being given to one State over another, and the bill provides for this. Honorable senators will observe that if the board is unable to arrive at a unanimous decision in determining an export quantity for a particular country or in allocating such quantity between the States, the power to do this may rest with the Minister.
I now turn to the machinery clauses of the bill. The present act provides that those members of the Australian Apple and Pear Board who are not elected shall be appointed by the Governor-General. This was in keeping with the practice at the time the act was first brought down. The present practice in legislation dealing with commodity boards of this nature is to provide that the non-elected members shall be appointed by the Minister. The opportunity has been taken in the present bill to bring the act into line with similar legislation.
Recent legislation dealing with commodity boards invariably includes a provision which preserves the rights of former public servants who are employed as the overseas representative of a board. The Apple and Pear Board does, in fact, employ a former public servant as its overseas representative, and, although his rights are at present protected under a temporary arrangement with the Public Service Board, it is desirable that the position be regularized by the act under which he is employed. The bill includes an amendment to achieve this. I commend the bill for the approval of the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Poke) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act relating to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill before the Senate seeks approval to create the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. Before addressing myself to the details of the bill I thought it appropriate to give honorable senators a brief resume of the events which have led to the Government’s decision to establish this institute.
In 1960 it was put to us that unless some urgent action was taken to further aboriginal studies, the source material for many aspects of study in this field would disappear, to the great detriment of the work of scholars in the future. In the fields of music and linguistics the need was particularly urgent because a great deal of information was to be found only in the minds and memories of aborigines who were nearing the end of their life span. On their death whole languages would disappear and so, of course, would all possibility of studying such languages. The same situation applied, and still applies, to many ancient tribal ceremonies, many aboriginal legends, and much material of this sort which would be of world interest to, for example, anthropologists. As a result of these representations, the Government agreed to finance a conference of scholars who were active in aboriginal studies and related fields and to ask this conference to review the state of our knowledge of aboriginal studies and to advise on the gaps this survey revealed.
The conference was asked also to define in general ways those areas of study which were in urgent need of research.
The conference, to which 1 will make a later reference, met in May, 1961, under the auspices of the Social Science Research Council. It furnished a report on its deliberations which the Government considered at that time. Following its examination of this report, and after consultations with the Australian National University, the Government established an Interim Council of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies and asked this council to arrange a modest programme of urgent research work and to advise the Government on the structure, scope and functions of a permanent institute. This permanent institute is the subject of the bill before the Senate. The Interim Council has performed both the tasks given to it by the Government and I take this opportunity of recording the Government’s appreciation of the work of its members. They have given freely of their time and have expended a great deal of thought and energy in achieving the purposes for which the Interim Council was established. With the concurrence of the Senate, I incorporate in “ Hansard “, the nanus of the members of the Interim Council. They are as follows: -
Professor A. D. Trendall, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Australian National University.
Executive Member -
Mr. F. D. McCarthy, Curator of Anthropology, The Australian Museum.
Professor J. A. Barnes, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Australian National University.
Professor A. A. Abbie, Elder Professor of Anatomy and Histology, University of Adelaide.
Mr. K. Beazley, M.P.
Professor R, M. Berndt, Department of Anthropology, University of Western Australia.
Professor J. Burke, Department of Fine Arts, University of Melbourne.
Dr. A. Capell, Reader in Oceanic Linguistics, University of Sydney.
Professor R. M. Crawford, Department of History, University of Melbourne.
Mr. A. F. Deer, General Manager, Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Company Limited.
Emeritus Professor A. P. Elkin, Editor of “ Oceania “.
Professor F. J. Fenner, Department of Microbiology, John Curtin School of Medical Research.
*Mr. E. J. B. Foxcroft, Prime Minister’s Department.
Professor W. R. Geddes, Department of Anthropology, University of Sydney.
Professor G. Lawton, Department of Geography, University of Adelaide.
Professor D. W. McElwain, Department of Psychology, University of Queensland.
Mr. R. J. Randall, Commonwealth Department of the Treasury.
Dr. W. E. H. Stanner, Reader in Comparative Institutions, Department of Anthropology, Australian National University.
Dr. D. F. Thomson, Fellow in Anthropology, University of Melbourne.
Mr. W. C. Wentworth, M. P.
Taking the urgent research programme first, the Interim Council has sponsored research in social anthropology, musicology, linguistics and archaeology. It has sponsored a number of conferences of experts in these fields and is building up source material of an archival character for use by scholars now and in the future. This work has been made possible by the ready co-operation which the Interim Council has received from universities, museums and other institutions in the field. Indeed, its work has been done largely with, and through, these institutions.
Before examining the bill in some detail, I think it is important to clarify to the Senate the Government’s concept of the role of a permanent institute of aboriginal studies. The permanent institute will not be concerned with current problems as they affect the Australian aborigine. Its work will be scientific and anthropological. This is made clear in the bill in the section dealing with the functions to be assigned to the institute, but I think it is important to stress the academic nature of the work of (he institute. 1 should add that it is not the Government’s intention that the institute should become a superdepartment of anthropology with a large research programme in its own right and conducted by its own professional staff. It is not intended that the new institute should rival existing institutions, or do work which properly and conveniently lies within the appropriate departments of universities and similar institutions. It will exist to complement the work of these institutions, to work through them, and to strengthen them by its activity.
The institute is in the nature of a learned body which is being given the opportunity to look at the field from a national viewpoint with funds to stimulate a modest programme of research in conjunction with, and through, existing institutions. Its programme will be designed to ensure that important material now available is not lost forever. Collection is its prime role; the study of materials at leisure is largely for the future and for other institutions. In saying this, I do not wish to imply that the institute will not arrange directly for urgent work to be done. Clearly, there will be some tasks which the institute considers important which for one reason or another cannot be undertaken by existing institutions. These cases should be comparatively rare and might be met by the institute engaging scholars in Australia and from abroad to collect source material and conduct the necessary research on specific topics.
It follows that the Government does not envisage the institute’s employing a research staff of any size and that the staff it engages will be devoted mainly to collecting and organizing material for the use of scholars. The work of documentation is proceeding and the institute should in time become a focal point for material necessary to further studies on the history and development of the Australian aborigine. This work of collecting, processing and preservation is seen by us to be the core of the institute’s work.
Turning now to the bill, honorable senators will see that the functions assigned to the institute conform with these concepts. They emphasize that the institute will concentrate on the study of evanescent material and that this work will be done primarily by assisting universities, museums and other institutions already active in aboriginal studies. The affairs of the institute will be conducted by a council of 22 persons. Honorable senators will see at section 12 of the bill what the constitution of the council will be. Half of the council will be elected by members of the institute. Membership of the institute will be open to scholars who are active in this field. In the first instance the act enables the Minister to invite scholars to accept membership. Not more than 100 persons may be so invited, and I wish to inform the Senate that it is my intention to ask the scholars who were invited to the conference in May, 1961, to accept foundation membership of the new institute. The act further provides that the institute may make rules governing the election of additional members. It is our hope that with a widely based membership the institute’s work will proceed guided by the advice of the most competent people in Australia in this field of work.
The remainder of the bill is devoted mainly to machinery matters, but I would draw the Senate’s attention to section 22 which deals with the appointment of a principal to head the institute staff. We see the principal as a scholar of distinction who will plan the research programmes of the institute and will, under the council, ensure that its programme meets urgent research needs. We would expect that in time the principal will have close and continuing relationships with the appropriate departments in the Australian universities and other institutions and I express the hope that the co-operation so far extended by these institutions will have fruitful results and that both the institute and these other institutions will be strengthened by this cooperation. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Assent to the following bills reported: - -
Meat Industry Bill 1964. Live-stock Slaughter Levy Bill 1964. Live-stock Slaughter Levy Collection Bill 1964. Meat Export Charge Repeal Bill 1964. Cattle Slaughter Levy Repeal Bill 1964. Cattle and Beef Research Bill 1964. Meat Agreement (Deficiency Payments) Bill 1964.
Meat Export (Additional Charge) Bill 1964. Loan (Qantas Empire Airways Limited) Bill 1964.
Debate resumed (vide page 1025).
– Prior to the interruption of the debate I was saying that these bills set out to do three things: First, they provide a Government contribution to the wool industry. The second purpose of the bills is to amend the wool legislation by increasing and altering the amount that will be contributed toy the growers. Thirdly the bills give power to the Australian Wool Board to borrow money. These proposals are merely consistent with the attitude of the present Government in helping industries. In view of the assistance given to various other industries - particularly secondary industries - it is only fair and reasonable that direct financial assistance should foe given to an industry that has built up the economic welfare of this country. There is no doubt that Australia would not have reached its present state of eminence had it not been for the great merino wool industry.
Recently some of our leading woolgrowers mentioned that the fact that financial assistance has had to be sought, and has been granted, does not please them very much, but the position had been reached, in view of the low prices being obtained for the product and the high cost of production, that the return to growers was such that some financial assistance had to be granted. After all the legislation does not provide a subsidy to the grower as such; it provides a subsidy for the purpose of increasing the promotion and the sale of wool. That, of course, will not only benefit the grower but, far more importantly, it will benefit every individual in our country.
It is fairly well known that 38 per cent, of our export income in 1962-63 - amounting to £407,000,000 - came from the wool industry. Only once in the last 50 years has the ratio of export income earned by the wool industry in relation to the total export income of Australia fallen below 30 per cent. Over a long period of years the export income derived from wool has represented 50 per cent, of Australia’s total export income. I am one of those who can recall some very low prices of wool. Thinking back to those days, and comparing the price obtained then with that obtained to-day, I am bound to say that we are very fortunate indeed. For instance in 1930-31 the total value of the wool industry to Australia was £26,500,000. In 1931-32 it was a little better having increased to £28,200,000 and in 1932-33 the value reached £31,900,000. Even as late as 1938-39 the total - I emphasize that this is not the export value but the total value of the wool clip - was £37,000,000. I join issue with Senator O’Byrne who claimed that the only times when the wool industry had been prosperous had been when it was receiving Government help. I remind him that in 1950-51 the industry certainly did not have assistance in any shape or form from the Government.
– You had a war being fought by governments overseas.
– Never mind about the Korean war. The industry did not receive any Government assistance and the wool clip in that year was valued at £617,000,000 which was the highest value in its history. No assistance was obtained from the Government. So, the honorable senator’s argument on that score falls to the ground.
– Your argument is a very poor one.
– I think that yours was even poorer. I remind the Senate that 95 per cent, of our wool is exported. I am one of those who think that it is a great pity that wool which has been exported over the years has not been labelled as Australian merino wool. That was not possible under an agreement made many years ago with New Zealand and South Africa which provided that any wool sold would not be sold as coming from any particular country. In my opinion, it has been a great pity indeed that Australia, growing the finest merino wool in the world, could not have its product labelled “ Australian merino wool “ when it was offered for sale throughout the world. I am quite certain that this has reacted against us quite unfavorably in a financial sense and, conversely, I suppose it has helped in the sale of the New Zealand and South African clips.
There is quite a ray of sunshine on the horizon as far as wool disposals are concerned, because the great Asian markets are starting to become available to us now.
The people of Asia are beginning to enjoy a higher standard of living than that to which they have been accustomed. This means, in turn, that they will be looking for better articles of clothing. When one looks for them, one invariably turns to wool. I will quote an instance of that a little later. We know that one of the great bugbears of the merino wool industry to-day is the competition that it meets from the artificial fibres. In certain instances, the mixing of a certain amount of synthetic material with wool does give quite a good article. There is no doubt at all that for durability, warmth, elegance and, what is more important still, fire resistance, wool is supreme. I am quite certain that many honorable senators have heard of instances of the synthetic materials worn by women and children catching alight before a fire. Woollen goods are not susceptible to the same fire hazard as are synthetic fibres.
It is some eighteen years since woolgrowers decided to levy themselves in order to assist wool promotion, lt is to their credit that once again they have voluntarily decided to increase the contributions that are necessary for the welfare of their industry. The original levy, which is in operation at this very time, is a fiat charge on a bale basis; but the proposals now put forward mean that a wool-grower will be levied up to 2 per cent, of the value of his clip. This will be a much fairer system. 1 know that this point has been touched upon by previous speakers, but it does not hurt, I feel, to emphasize this aspect again. It would be very unrealistic and most unfair if the proposal was to impose the same levy on a bale of wool that was worth £40 as on a bale of wool that was worth £150 or even £200.
– How many bales of wool at present-day prices are worth that much?
– Unfortunately for the wool-grower, not enough are worth that, but some of them are. The illustration that I have given shows that a levy on the basis of percentage of sale value is much fairer. The percentage will be fixed by wool industry representatives. I understand that that will be done in either June or July of this year.
Another aspect of levying on the bale basis is that inevitably some growers naturally tend to put in some very heavy bales because, the levy being so much per bale, the fewer bales they have to contain their clips, the less they have to pay by way of levy. This, in turn would cause trouble - and, indeed, it has caused trouble already - with the stevedoring industry and those people who have to handle the heavy bales. The new basis - percentage of sale value of the individual clip - is a much more satisfactory way of obtaining the money required for wool promotion. The scheme that the Government has decided upon is to run for three years, at the end of which it will be reviewed. This scheme means that receipts oyer and above the present amount that is -being contributed by the wool-growers will be matched by the Government on a £1 for £1 basis. A little while ago Senator O’Byrne berated the Government because it was matching £1 for £1 moneys raised by many other industries for the promotion and use of their products, and was not doing so for the wool industry. Well, moneys received from wool-growers over and above the present amount that is being contributed will be matched £1 for £1 by the Government.
We have already been told that the present contributions of 2s. per bale by the wool-grower and 4s. by the Government for research into wool will form part of the total amount. The levy per bale will not be continued, but the amount for research will come out of the 2 per cent, that will be levied. With a price in the vicinity of the present market return, it is expected that an amount of £11.000,000 will be collected. It is quite obvious that, in view of the very strong competition from synthetics, more and more money will have to be spent in the fight against them. One has only to look at the publications which have been put out by the International Wool Secretariat and the Wool Bureau Incorporated to see that much activity has taken place since the inception of the new set-up. It is also quite obvious that, with the appointment of Mr. Vines, this side of the promotion scheme is growing to a very large extent. It is unfortunate, I feel, that so few growers and, for that matter, so few members of the public, have any idea of the very large Amounts of money that have been contributed by woollen manufacturers in many countries for wool promotion. Senator
McKenna touched on this aspect last night. 1 am quite convinced that had many of the growers who opposed the suggestion for an increased levy known of this fact, they would have been far more amenable to the idea of the increase to which they have now agreed.
The “ World Wool Digest “ is a publication that comes out quite regularly. In addition to that, what is known as the “ IWS Wool News “, an International Wool Secretariat publication, comes out at frequent intervals. I have some here dated 28th April, 29th April and 1st May. I wish to read a passage from one of them under the striking headline, “ Pants Off Press Party “. It says -
Mcn guests at a recent London cocktail party took their trousers off to take advantage of an unusual opportunity - to have the trousers permanently creased “ on the house “.
The “ house “ in this case was the London Valet Service of University Tailors Ltd., which was giving, at a press party sponsored by the International Wool Secretariat, the first public demonstration of a new permanent-creasing process called M EAS
Girded sarong-like in towels beneath their sober suit jackets, guests who availed themselves of the free creasing watched the job being done while they took refreshments.
Already 17 British clothiers, including some of the biggest, are applying the MEAS permanentcreasing to 260,000 pairs of all-wool trousers a year.
We know that Australia was one of the first countries to commence the process known as Si-Ro-Set, not only for men’s trousers but also for ladies’ skirts and other articles of clothing, which has proved very popular and quite efficient. In the “ IWS Wool News” of 29th April, 1964, there appears this heading, “ Wool is the Fashion in a Hot Spot “. This article says -
Nigerians, who live in the kind of tropical heat that will fry an egg on the pavement, are wearing more wool.
One of the chief reasons, it is believed, is a “ wear wool “ publicity campaign being sponsored in this West African country of some 55 million people by the British National Wool Textile Export Corporation.
These are some of the publications that are being issued, giving advice on what is being done and helping to create interest. This all mounts up as it goes along. Here is a paragraph relating to something to which Senator McKenna referred last night, and it bears on what 1 said a little while ago. Under the heading of “ A quality article “, the paragraph states - “ Wc have got to make the consumer aware that a woollen article is a quality article,” Mr. Vines continued. “ That is why we have committed ourselves to this trademark programme.” He paid tribute to the 200,000 wool-growers in Australia. New Zealand and South Africa for agreeing to a considerably increased levy on their income from wool. He added that the woolgrowing industry was moving into a period of “ enormous opportunity “. There was no need for depression about its prospects, although competition would get stronger. The textile industry had shown remarkable interest in joining the Wool Secretariat in its promotional projects, he said. Textile industries had made money available to promotional programmes controlled by the I.W.S. and other contrbutions have more than doubled in recent years - “ They are now running into several million pounds “, Mr. Vines concluded. -That bears out what 1 said a little while ago. If that fact were known to many of the wool-growers and to the general public, it would be a source of great encouragement to them. The £11,000.000 that we expect will accrue from the Government’s contribution and the wool-growers’ contribution is a mere bagatelle compared with the amount being spent by the producers and manufacturers of synthetics. This is something which we have to face up to. There is only one way to meet this challenge. We must increase our own expenditure.
From time to time we hear misleading remarks from various sources about wealthy wool-growers. In many quarters it is fashionable to think that anybody who grows wool is wealthy. The Bureau of Agricultural Economics has shown that until very recently returns from wool-growing properties have been very poor indeed - as low as 2 per cent, or 3 per cent, on invested capital in many cases. I have here some approximate figures, not compiled by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics but based on infomation supplied by it. There are 10,000 wool-growers in Australia producing only one bale of wool each and there are 4,800 producing 2i bales each. There are 8,400 producing five bales, giving a total of 41,000 bales. I am using round figures only. There are 7,800 growers each producing 71 bales of wool, giving a total of 54,000 bales. There are 7,400 growers each producing ten bales of wool, giving a total of 74,000 bales, and there are 7,300 growers each producing thirteen bales, or a total of about 95,000 bales. So 45,700 growers are producing about 287,000 bales of wool. There are 118,000 growers producing a little over 5,000,000 bales of wool in Australia. Of the wool-growers, 7 per cent, produce 90 bales or more, their production totalling 42 per cent, of our entire output. I want to emphasize that many of the small wool-growers that 1 mentioned earlier raise fat lambs and, as a result, do not rely on the return from wool as their chief source of income. I do not know what the man who produces only one bale is doing, unless he keeps 30 or 40 sheep to keep his lawns down or something of that nature.
Once again we find the Opposition persisting with its old habit of not giving the growers what they want, but telling them what they should have. I think that is one of the reasons why the Opposition is in opposition. Members of the Opposition are saying to the wool-growers, in effect: “ Never mind what you want. We know what is best for you. You do not want this wool levy. You want a marketing scheme. Bring that in first.” That is the substance of the amendment moved by the Opposition.
The marketing of wool was one of the tasks entrusted to the Australian Wool Board and it appointed a committee to investigate the marketing aspect and to make a report, which will be brought down within the next month or so. I think the general expectation is that when that report has been published a ballot of wool-growers will be held to decide whether they, will adopt a marketing scheme - if one is recommended by the committee which is carrying out the the investigation. But the Opposition is saying to the wool-growers: “ Never mind the recommendations of the committee which has been set up. Have your referendum now, before increasing your levy.” lt has already been made evident that this is not in accord with the wishes of the woolgrowers. They have decided on a certain course, but the Opposition says to them: “ You are wrong. This is what you ought to do.” lt is quite a good thing for the Government to have the Opposition doing this, but I think it is foolish from the point of view of the Opposition’s relations with the wool-grower.
From time to time we have heard it said that the wool-growers are not satisfied with the present system of marketing. There are some aspects of marketing with which many growers are not satisfied, but it is not correct to say that all the growers are opposed to the auction system. I am one of those who recognize the deficiencies of the present auction system, but I am also one of those who are satisfied that it is of no use to alter a system unless the change will be of benefit. In my opinion, we have not yet had a better system outlined to us. I do not suggest that there is no better system. I think the present system can be, and should be, improved, but to wipe it out overnight and bring in another system, just in order to make a change, would be too foolish for words. It may surprise some advocates of the floor price scheme to learn that during the past twelve months the bales bought in under the floor price scheme in New Zealand amounted to only eighteen or twenty. In response to inquiries, I have been told that selling on the farm in New Zealand is very prevalent, just as it has been, unfortunately, in many parts of Australia. In the long run, that does not do the grower any good-. He may get some temporary advantage from it, but if the practice persists the grower is left at the mercy of the buyer who comes around to buy his clip. I cannot help feeling that if the floor price system in New Zealand was as efficient as so many- of its advocates claim, selling on the farm would not be as prevalent as it is. That is worth looking into.
In addition to advising the wool-grower what he should do, Senator O’Byrne persisted in telling the manufacturers what they should do and said they should have their woo] scoured here instead of sending it overseas containing grass seeds and oats. I think these people have been in the game long enough to know which scheme pays them best, so I do not suppose they will take much notice of the honorable senator’s advice. The only advice he did not give was as to the type of blood strain to use in the merino flocks. Perhaps he overlooked that.
We cannot consider a measure such as this without referring to Sir William Gunn, the man who has worked so hard and who has done so much for the wool industry in Australia. There are very few, if any, people in Australia who would have been prepared not only to work but also to fight so hard for the industry as he has done. I cannot imagine that he has done this for his own benefit because the travelling and the hard work must have entailed a great drain not only on his physical resources but also on his financial resources. The work that he has done certainly deserves the highest commendation in my opinion. His work has been of benefit not only to the wool-growers but also to the people of Australia.
So much for the bill that we have been debating. Before 1 conclude, I want to refer to the amendment that has been moved. The amendment reads -
Leave out all words after “ That “, insert - “The Senate declines to give the bill a second reading as, in the absence of arrangements for a poll of wool-growers in relation to an orderly marketing plan, the proposals increase the contribution by the wool-grower for promotion purposes greatly above a rate equivalent to 10s. per bale and fail to the extent of 10s. per bale to match the wool-growers’ contribution with a Government contribution “.
Much has been said by Opposition senators to the effect that proposals put to the Government some time ago have not been adopted. I want to point out to the Opposition that had the Government adopted those proposals at that time the financial contribution by the Government would not have been as great as the contribution will be under this bill. I think that point is something that the Opposition should look at when it criticizes the Government on that score.
The second point I want to make is this: At that time the wool-growers had not approached the Government. This Government and previous governments have always adopted the attitude that it is for the woolgrowers to make a decision as to what assistance they need in the industry and to let the Government know of their proposals. Then the Government would see whether it could grant the desired assistance. Successive governments have never deviated from that line. That is one of the reasons why, up till now, no assistance has been granted to wool-growers. As I mentioned earlier, some few months ago wool-growers decided, in view of the prevailing low prices and high costs at that time, that they should be treated in the same manner as many of our secondary industries. They decided that they should be entitled to some assistance, comparable with that given to secondary industries in the field of wool promotion. That is why the proposals were made to the Government and that is why these bills are before us to-day. 1 have very much pleasure in supporting the bills.
– First of all I want to correct some statements made by Senator McKellar. It is not the practice of the Australian Labour Party - it never has been and I would say never will be, whether in government or in opposition - to help any organization without first consulting it and obtaining its concurrence as to the provision of any assistance it required. Might I correct Senator McKellar on one point which he will probably remember only too well. This matter was mentioned earlier to-day by Senator Scott and concerns the action of the government of the day in selling the whole of the wool clip at 101/2d. per lb. to the British Government when the Second World War broke out.
– That is sterling.
– All right- at 101/2d. per lb. sterling. That is immaterial anyway. The then opposition protested to the government of that day. If my memory serves me correctly, it was called the United Australia Party Government although the United Australia Party might have changed its name to Liberal Party by then. The fact is that it was a conservative government, whether the members of that government called themselves Liberals, Country Party, United Australia Party or any other name. They changed their names very frequently in those days. The government sold the whole of the Australian wool clip for101/2d. per lb. The growers protested vigorously that it was not enough and they had the support of the opposition. The government of the day claimed that it was the maximum that could be obtained from the British Government in fairness and justice. Immediately the Labour Government came into office it received a number of representations from various wool-growers’ organizations - not only those who are consulted by the present Government - and the Labour Government negotiated a new agreement with the British Government immediately. The price was lifted to1s, 3d. per lb. Then it was gradually increased as further representations were made. That was done at the direct request of the growers.
The Labour Government did not tell the growers what price they had to lake or what they had to do, as Senator McKellar implied. The government acted on its own initiative in accordance with the opposition of the growers to what the previous government had done and re-negotiated the agreement with (he British Government. As a result the wool-growers benefited considerably.
Senator Scott traced the history of this matter very well and I thought his speech was very informative to honorable senators. But there were one or two matters which he could have included. He dealt with the synthetic fibres that are endangering the wool industry. Synthetic fibres have always been a threat to the wool industry. Ever since I can remember, when wool was 3d. per lb., the same cry was heard. It was the same when wool was ls. per lb. It was said that synthetic fibres were endangering the Australian wool industry. That was the cry whenever the Government wanted money to assist growers or whenever the woolgrowers wanted something done and were pressing the Government. It always came up.
I do not place the importance on the danger from synthetics that is placed on it by some wool-growers and supporters of the Government because synthetics could not compete against wool in the days of low prices for wool and the story is much the same to-day. If anybody could manufacture a synthetic fibre with the durability of wool and fit to take the place of wool to the satisfaction of consumers the synthetic fibres might take command. But while we are producing high-class wool and can manufacture it into articles of quality, I do not think the danger from synthetics is as great as some honorable senators and the wool-growers themselves suggest. A manufactured article of good quality is the best counter to synthetics. If anybody could produce synthetic fibres that were better than wool, they might succeed in ousting wool but I very much doubt whether they can, and I believe the Government thinks that also. Ever since I can remember, people have been trying to produce a synthetic fibre of that quality but they have never succeeded. They are no further advanced in displacing wool gar ments with synthetics than they were 50 years ago. So I do not place much importance on that claim.
I now come to this point: Who is actually saying what should be done? 1 say that the Government is dictating to the woolgrowers what should be done and that is why the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has moved his amendment. Can the Government tell us how many woolgrowers have been consulted? Previous speakers have told us how many woolgrowers there are in Australia and the quantity of wool they produce. Can the Government tell us how many of those wool-growers are in favour of the proposed increased levies? Have they had a poll? Has the Government had representations from various organizations? One of the principal organizations, which would have as many members as the organizations with which the Government has negotiated if all the small growers were taken into account, has had no. say in the matter at all. 1 refer to the Australian Primary Producers Union which includes growers in every part of Australia. That organization, which includes growers all over Australia, has had no say. It is not correct to say that the majority of growers have requested this change. The request has come from certain organizations, but do they have the backing of all the wool-growers? I say that they do not. ff the Government says that they do, I ask why a ballot of wool-growers should not be taken. We are starting at the wrong end. The Opposition believes that the wool-growers should be allowed to say what they want. Let us see whether the woolgrowers are in accord.
– What is the definition of a wool-grower?
– A man who grows over a certain quantity of wool.
– What quantity?
– It would be considerably Jess than would be needed to pull the wool over the eyes of the Opposition.
– How many bales?
– If the honorable senator were advancing with the times, he would not be making stupid interjections. When wool prices sky-rocketed and this country’s economy was in a state of inflation the Government should have got the woolgrowers together and obtained their consent to the operation of a decent organization to control some of the surplus funds which the Government claimed were disrupting our economy. The Government did not at the same time tell the people that it was taking 13s. 6d. in the £1 in tax out of a fair lump of this money, and that the position was not as bad as it tried to make out. If the wool-growers had been properly organized and some of the surplus money had been put into a trust fund for the purpose for which this bill seeks to raise funds, between £100,000,000 and £200,000,000 would have been drained away from the wool-growers and the present position would not have arisen. However, if the Government had done that, it would not have got its 13s. 6d. in the £1 in tax. The growers would willingly have paid that money into a trust fund for the properly organized promotion of wool. The Government could have allowed such payments as deductions from taxable income.
However, it is a different story. The Government is raising this money by a tax when the wool industry is not flourishing and when the purse of the wool-growers is not so great. The general taxpayers are helping to meet the cost. Government supporters have said that wool-growers take the stand that because secondary industries are being assisted so also should the wool industry. Up to a point, there might be some merit in the argument. It has always been the policy of the Labour Party to give assistance where it is most needed. That is why we, when we were in government, gave assistance to the dairy industry and other primary industries. I am not opposing assistance for wool marketing, but over the past few years other industries have needed assistance more than the woolgrowers need it to-day. If we are to assist all industries merely because one industry has been assisted, where will the assistance stop? Although an industry is flourishing and perhaps amassing millions of pounds, is it to be assisted merely because some other industry that was down and out has obtained assistance to bring it to a healthy state? Government supporters claim that big, flourishing industries should be assisted, that if assistance is given to one it should be given to all. That is not the right policy. That would not be to do as we suggest, namely, to assist those who need assistance.
If Senator McKellar’s policy were carried out, all industries would be assisted. He should be careful about making such wild statements. The wool industry is not a down-and-out industry - far from it. Nobody can say that it is. If it is to be assisted year after year by the provision of millions of pounds from the growers and from taxpayers, at least it would be in the interests of democracy to ascertain the opinion of all concerned on what should be done. We have not had such an expression of opinion. This Government is doing exactly what Senator McKellar said the Opposition would be doing. The Government is doing the dictating. It is not acting in accordance with the wish and the will of the people concerned. Perhaps if a ballot were taken, a majority would be in favour of the course that is now being followed. If that were so, all would be well. But if a majority were against this course, this would show that the Government was forcing its plans on the industry.
Many millions of pounds of taxpayers* money are being used for this purpose. The Government is drawing taxes from the basic wage workers to assist this industry. The money is going to a secretariat which to the general public is a secret organization. Will the Government tell us the salary and allowances of the secretary of the secretariat? I followed very closely the progress of Sir William Gunn’s tour, when he was trying to get wool-growers to agree to a levy of £2 a bale and when his plan was knocked over. I followed very closely the questions directed to him by growers. There were meetings night after night. Each time he replied that he could not say how the money was being spent in various directions. Can this Government tell the taxpayer, either in detail or along broad lines, how this money is being spent? Will it tell the taxpayers how much is allowed for entertainment to these people who are travelling the world and what their salaries are? It would be enlightening to the taxpayers to have this information.
The International Wool Secretariat, which has the support of three countries, has an income of about £16,000,000. Probably another £16,000,000 would come from textile manufacturers. If it docs not. it should, because the activities of the secretariat are as much in their interests as they are in the interests of the wool-growers, and the manufacturers have millions of pounds at stake, lt is in their interests that wool should be promoted and that more sales should be made. They should be contributing the equivalent of the payments by the growers and governments of the three countries. If they do this, the secretariat should receive about £32,000,000. Should we not have a balance-sheet from the secretariat to show the taxpayers and wool-growers, who are paying, just how the money is being spent? I am not saying that the money has not been spent wisely, but I say that the people who are paying the piper are justly entitled to know how much is being spent and on what, in the same way as taxpayers are entitled to know what is being spent on the Snowy Mountains scheme and other projects in this country. I claim that the Government is not dealing with this democratically. No government should pour millions into an organization unless it is prepared to say to the taxpayers, “ This is how and where the money is being spent “. We should know whether other organizations, such as the textile industries throughout the various countries of the world, are also paying millions of pounds into this. We should know whether our money is being matched. Why should we not know? Why should this organization have so much secrecy surrounding it, especially as it is becoming almost a world organization? The United Nations has not the same secrecy surrounding it as the Wool Secretariat has, but the United Nations is a much more important organization. When the Government speaks of democracy, why does it not carry democracy out in full and say to the people in this instance: “ This is where your money is going. This is how it is being spent. We are not ashamed to tell you, and we are not afraid of anything “?
It is a bad thing when a man travels around the Victorian countryside in connexion with this matter and when he is asked questions answers, “ It is a secret “. Just where would we get in the United Nations if questions arose concerning New Guinea and we replied, “ We cannot answer those questions. It is a secret “? Democracy can function only in one way. It cannot be twisted around as some Communist countries like to twist it. Democracy as we know it in the Western countries is democracy in all matters. There is no democracy in the way the Government is dealing with this question and with the wool-growers of Australia. If South Africa and New Zealand are dealing with this subject on similar lines to those on which this Government is dealing with it, then there is no democracy in the way they are handling the situation.
I claim that the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition is warranted and that there is every justification for it. This is an industry that has never been in need. This is not an industry that is down and out. It could not be compared with the dairy industry as that industry was in 1939 and 1940, nor could it be compared with the dairy industry in about 1929. I can see that the Minister is laughing, but I can remember those days only too well. Had we then had a dairy industry flourishing as the wool industry has flourished we would have thought that we were millionaires. As a Government speaker said, we must give the wool industry this assistance because we give similar assistance to the secondary industries. The wool-growers claim that if we give assistance to secondary industries we should give assistance to the wool industry. I think that the Government should exercise a far more democratic policy in relation to this organization. It would get the wholehearted support of the Opposition if it changed its attitude and dealt with this organization democratically instead of dealing with it as now. The Government is pouring money into what must be regarded as a semi-secret organization, in view of the information we have been supplied with. It certainly is a semi-secret organization when it comes to information about where and how the funds are being spent.
– I rise to support the bill and to oppose the amendment, which I look upon as a defeatist amendment. If it were, unhappily, to pass this chamber it would be looked upon with horror by the woolgrowing community and, I think, by the public generally. It would be regarded as a tragedy. I believe that the measure before the Senate will be a constructive and valuable adjunct to an industry that we all know is the mainstay of the Australian economy. I regard this as a very important piece of legislation - as important as any legislation that could be placed before the Federal Parliament - because it is dealing with our greatest industry. The Government proposes to give assistance legislatively to the industry to enable it to function, to continue its existence and to provide a barrier against depression. The wool industry is the mainstay of the Australian economy and anything we can do to bolster and assist it is worth while.
The Government recognizes that, which is why it has brought down this legislation in collaboration wilh the wool industry itself. I think the legislation can be described almost as emergency legislation. It is similar in some respects to the recent legislation concerning the meat industry. It is legislation prompted by changed circumstances. In spite of what Senator Aylett has said, circumstances do change no matter what industry is involved. Circumstances changed vastly in the meat industry and it was necessary to introduce legislation to protect that great Australian industry from the vicissitudes of trading overseas. So far as the wool industry is concerned, this legislation has as its basis something of the same nature. We have seen the development in the textile world recently of a fibre which could eventually threaten the great Australian wool industry. For that reason we have to take steps to protect the industry, and that is the basis of this legislation.
Senator Aylett said that he did not think the substitute fibres - I call them “ substitute “ fibres; he used the word “ synthetic “ - would threaten the wool industry. Strictly speaking, they are not synthetic fibres. I understand that “ synthetic “ means that the chemical composition of the article would be the same as that of the natural article. That is not the case so far as these man-made fibres are concerned. They are not truly synthetic fibres. They could be described as artificial or substitute fibres, but in reality they are not synthetic fibres. However, that is by the way. I feel that most of us would disagree with Senator Aylett when he says that the man-made fibres do not constitute a threat to the wool industry. He has said that they have never done so. He has claimed that there has always been this cry of a threat of competition from other fibres, but that it has had practically no effect on the wool industry. We can disagree with Senator Aylett in that respect. I know that there have been ups and downs in the price factor of the wool industry. It cannot be denied that the fibres that have been scientifically developed in recent years constitute a threat to the Australian wool industry. I am speaking not only of the wool industry but also of the wool textile industry which has been in existence for many centuries and which has been the basis of the economies of certain countries for a long time. I think of the great wool textile industries of the United Kingdom and of European and Asiatic countries. Japan, the most recent addition to the field, is now the major buyer of Australian wool. We all recognize that Japan is one of the great textile producers of the world.
It is interesting to note the role that textiles play in a country’s economy and living standards. I think of the great cotton textile industry. I remember when I was a boy at school learning of the paramount part that cotton played in the economy of many countries, even primitive countries. Most of the cotton in those days was grown in the United States of America under somewhat distressing conditions. I have mentioned the United Kingdom. The wool industry played a very important part in the development of that country’s industrial economy. Bradford and Leeds come to mind in this respect.
There are other great textile industries. We have seen the tremendous part that the silk industry played not so many years ago and the gradual incursion of the artificial silk industry into a field that had formerly been occupied by the natura] silk industry. That is the perfect answer to Senator Aylett’s statements regarding the threat of synthetics to wool. The growth of the artificial silk industry reduced the strength of the natural silk industry to a tremendous extent. The natural silk industry is now only a shadow of its former self. Artificial silk has virtually replaced natural silk.
We have seen the growth of other fibres, such as rayon and nylon, produced by scientific means. They are being used to an increasing extent in clothing the people of the world. They are valuable fibres, and vast sums of money are being spent to promote them in the textile field. We all realize that something must be done :o protect the wool industry, having in mind the incursion of the various scientific fibres that are being produced.
The wool industry is no more immune to competition from synthetics than the natural silk industry was to competition from the artificial silk industry and the rayon and nylon industries. The people in the wool industry recognize the danger and over the years have been paying more attention to synthetics than previously was the case. We have reached the stage where we must do more to combat competition from synthetics.
We know the important part that the wool industry plays in Australia. Those of us who have had something to do with producing wool know that it is an industry which has its ups and downs. Most of us defend the qualities of woollen fabrics because we think that they are some of the finest fabrics for use by human beings. They have certain qualities which we claim are not possessed by other textiles. They wear well and have a good appearance. They are pre-eminent so far as suit making is concerned. We know that they are comfortable textiles which provide more comfort than some of the other textiles that are being promoted to-day. They are hygienic. As for health-giving properties, I do not think other textiles hold a candle to them. 1 know of some of the tests that have been carried out with cotton and woollen materials. When there is a drop in temperature, a person wearing a woollen garment is less affected by cold than a person wearing a cotton garment. The exudation of moisture from the cotton garment is much greater than from the woollen one. Woollen material retains moisture and warmth, which is an important feature.
We in Australia say that woollen textiles are the finest that can be made. I do not want to underrate cotton textiles. We know that they serve a very useful purpose for the masses of people living in tropical countries. I personally feel that we cannot dispense with cotton textiles in spite of the fact that these days we are wearing terylene and other such materials. We believe that in promoting wool we are doing a service to mankind. It is a commodity which the world needs.
We frequently refer to the difficulties that have been experienced by the wool industry and the vagaries of the price factor. Certain aspects of the price factor have been, to say the least, very distressing to the growers and the manufacturers. My mind goes back to the First World War when the price problem reared its head for the first time. At least, that is as far back as I can remember what happened. We know of the problem that existed immediately after that war and the steps we had to take to overcome it. As Senator Scott has reminded us to-day, after the First World War there was what seemed to be a tremendous surplus of wool, with the result that the production of wool was depressed and became quite unprofitable. But man is rather ingenious, and it was generally conceded that ways and means could be found to overcome the difficulty. It was generally conceded that the world needed wool. The British Australian Wool Realization Association Limited, which was brought into being, gradually disposed of the so-called surplus and ensured a return to profitable prices. Organized marketing was undertaken by Bawra, as it came to be known.
Then followed a period during which wool prices were fairly satisfactory. There was constant agitation for the implementation of a stabilization scheme. Most growers have been fiercely independent and have not liked interference by governments in their industry. A stabilization scheme could not be introduced, because the growers rejected at a referendum a proposal for such a scheme. Then came the period of the depression and factors operated which, while they might be familiar to us, have not been properly understood. I do not think anybody understands why we experienced the tragic depression of the ‘thirties. The price of wool reached a very low level indeed in those days.
Following the depression we had another war. We have been reminded of some of the steps that were taken to sell wool during that period. I can remember them very clearly indeed. The late Senator George McLeay conducted negotiations with the British Government in regard to the price that would be paid for Australian wool during the war period. The price paid was 10-)d. per lb. sterling, or a little over 13d. in Australian currency. Later the price was increased slightly. At the insistence of the British Government, an appraisal scheme, which was quite different from the auction system, was adopted for the sale of wool. Wool was appraised on the floor of the stores of the wool-selling brokers and the growers had to take the appraised price. We had no alternative to accepting the scheme. British ships transported the wool. I can recall the late George McLeay saying that he found the British to be rather tough customers when he was conducting the price negotiations.
Following the Second World War we again had the problem of so-called postwar surpluses. Really they were not surpluses at all. As happened after the First World War, the world was hungry for wool. The so-called surplus was taken up very quickly by the Joint Organization, which was established to deal with the problem, and it was disposed of over a period of years at profitable prices. I know that to some extent I am repeating matters of historical significance, but they do indicate rather clearly the vagaries of the price factor. When this Government assumed office in 1949 it did so with the understanding that it was to put into effect a stabilization scheme for the wool industry. We were led to believe that the industry wanted such a scheme. Mr. John McEwen, who was then Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, introduced a stabilization scheme. In anticipation of the scheme being accepted, he imposed a levy of 7i per cent, on the sale price of wool in order to establish a standardization fund. The fund was established on the understanding that a poll of the growers was taken. When the poll was conducted the growers rejected the proposal. As Senator Scott reminded us, the proposal was defeated in all States but one. So that was the end of the stabilization scheme which the Government had worked out with the industry and which would have been put into effect in 1951 or 1952.
We have carried on with the auction system ever since. In spite of the shortcomings of that system, we have received some fantastically high prices for wool. The high prices that we were supposed to have enjoyed in 1950 and 1951 could have been a factor in the establishment of some of the artificial-fibre industries that have come’into being since then. I qualify that statement by saying that I do not think the high prices were a primary factor because in a scientific world these things inevitably come about. Artificial fibres would have come whether the price of wool had been high or low, but the high prices did have some effect in causing changes in the circumstances of the wool industry. In fact, the high prices affected all industries but they affected the wool industry to a bigger extent than others.
The primary purpose of this legislation is to assist in the promotion of wool. 1 think we are realistic enough to believe that the main reason for wool promotion is to meet the competition that comes from fibres which are being used in such great volume to-day. Another factor which must be borne in mind is that we do not know what will bc the result when the patent rights of many of these man-made fibre industries expire shortly. There is no guarantee that the prices of these man-made fibres may not constitute a serious threat to the wool industry. There is nothing to stop the fibre industries from reducing their prices by half and thus bringing about serious consequences for wool. That is another reason why we must do what we can to promote wool throughout the world.
The International Wool Secretariat was set up some years ago for the purpose of promoting the use of wool. I remember that one of the first officers of the secretariat was Sir Ewen Waterman who is an Adelaide resident. He played a very important part in the setting up of that body. The secretariat which is representative of great wool growing countries, such as South Africa and New Zealand, as well as Australia, has served a useful purpose in keeping wool to the fore in the eyes of the consuming public. It has recognized the danger constituted by the production in great volumes of man-made fibres in all the great industrial countries of the world. 1 say “ all “ because I think that is virtually true. These fibres are produced in America, Japan, on the Continent and even in Australia itself. The purpose of the legislation is to raise money to enable Australia to make a proper contribution to the International Wool Secretariat and thus enable it to carry out its work.
I do not want to go through all thedetails of the payments that are to be made. They have been fairly well ventilated in the Senate this morning and this afternoon. The amount to be expended by the secretariat is approximately £16,250,000. Australia’s contribution will be to the order of 64 per cent. As this country is the greatest wool producer in the world it is only reasonable to expect that it will be making the major contribution towards the funds to be given to the International Wool Secretariat. I am sure that the money will be put to good use. It is vital that it be used in a proper way. Wool promotion can be carried out effectively or ineffectively. As there are people associated with the industry who are informed of the necessity for correct wool promotion, and who recognize the vital aspects of it, I am sure that we can reasonably expect that the International Wool Secretariat overseas, and the Australian Wool Board in Australia, will sec that the funds entrusted to them will be used properly.
The Wool Industry Conference which was set up only last year will see that reports will be made to the Parliament through the Australian Wool Board on how the money is expended on wool promotion. It is important that we get the information we require. I am sometimes a little dismayed when I hear of some of the functions that are organized by the Australian Wool Board for the promotion of wool in Australia. I hear, and sometimes read in the newspapers, of cocktail parties being arranged. I have some doubt whether those cocktail parties achieve the purpose they are designed to achieve. I should like to see the money used a little more effectively than in entertaining certain people at cocktail parties.
However, I honestly believe that the purpose of the legislation is sound. I do not think that the Australian Labour Party’s amendment will achieve anything. In fact, as far as I can see, it is completely defeatist and would reduce the Australian wool industry to a stage where it would have no wool promotion at all. The ratio of contribution by the Government to that of the industry is extremely generous. I think that it is fully justified in view of the importance of the industry to the economy. We on this side of the chamber believe that the measure is vital to our economy, vital to the industry itself and vital to the well-being of those people who are engaged in the production of wool in Australia.
said in his secondreading speech, the purpose of this legislation is to amend the Wool Industry Act 1962 in certain respects. First, it is intended to give effect to certain Government undertakings for wool promotion activities. Secondly, the wool-growers’ contribution towards promotion and research and the Government’s research contribution are defined. Thirdly, it is proposed to change the levy paid by wool-growers for promotion and research from a per-bale basis to a percentage-of-sale-value basis. As I read the second-reading speech of the Minister the legislation proposes also to give borrowing rights to the Australian Wool Board to assist it to overcome temporary short-falls in its revenue. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) last night moved an amendment on behalf of the Opposition. His amendment was -
Leave out all words after “That”, insert: - “ The Senate declines to give the bill a second reading as, in the absence of arrangements for a poll of wool-growers in relation to an orderly marketing plan, the proposals increase the contribution by the wool-grower for promotion purposes greatly above a rate equivalent to 10s. per bale and fail to the extent of 10s. per bale to match the wool-growers’ contribution with a Government contribution.”
As a member of the Opposition, I support the amendment so ably moved last night by my leader.
Senator Hannaford said at the beginning of his remarks that the wool industry is of the utmost importance to the Australian economy. Indeed, it is of the utmost importance to Australia’s economy, security, and well-being. Furthermore, because of the very importance of wool, Australia is recognized throughout the world as an important trading nation.
The total value of produce leaving these shores last year was £1,000,000,000 of which £406,000,000 was attributable to the export of wool and sheep-skins. Practically every nation recognizes Australia as the most important wool-growing country in the world. Australia, because of its climate and its merino breed, is admirably suited for wool-growing purposes. Indeed, it fairly can be said that in these days of 1964 Australia is literally still riding on the sheep’s back.
In the year 1961-62, from the figures that I have had taken out, Australia produced 30 per cent, of the world total of all types of wool, and the share of all the British Commonwealth countries combined represented approximately 45 per cent, of world output. Australia’s wool clip, as I have said, is predominantly merino. New Zealand and the Argentine produce mainly cross-bred wool. Production of merino wool .’n 1961-62 was 45 per cent, above the average for the years 1934 to 1938, and the production of cross-bred types has risen by about 66 per cent. 1 mention those figures to indicate that despite the talk about which we have heard so much concerning the competition from man-made fibres, there is a great demand which is everincreasing for Australia’s important primary product. Obviously, we, as a nation, are the wool producing country of the world. The economic importance of this industry to Australia is unquestionable.
Australia, with about one-sixth of the world’s sheep, produces more than onequarter of the world’s wool and more than a half of the world’s fine quality merino wool. Some 93 per cent, of our total production is exported. Only about 7 per cent, is used by Austraiian manufacturers. It will be seen from the figures to which 1 have just referred that already Australia’s production to-day is in great demand in the wool markets of the world and, with the population explosion occurring as it has in recent years, and is likely to occur in future, the demand for Australia’s primary product will probably be greater.
Senator McKellar referred to the great potential of the Asian market. In this respect, it is interesting to observe that whereas in the financial year 1961-62 the United Kingdom purchased 220,000,000 lb. of wool from Australia, Japan purchased some 444,000,000 lb. I agree with Senator McKellar that the potential of the Asian market is enormous. Indeed, the Government recognizes this fact because the value of our wool exports to mainland China in the last calendar year amounted to some £14,000,000. 1 should imagine, having regard to the climatic conditions of that country, that there is a still greater market available to us there. Of course, the market in our own country is far from being completely exploited. I believe that the Government could well do something in that matter. For instance, take the supply of equipment to members of Australia’s defence forces. Only yesterday the Sydney “ Sun “ published a statement by an officer attached to (he Army to the effect that troops and permanent staff were disgruntled because winter uniforms for servicemen had to last for eight years, boots for four years, and two pairs of woollen army socks had to be used for four years, before new ones were issued. I mention that report to show that the Government’s own defence forces could provide a vast market in Australia. I believe it would be appropriate for the Government to assist the wool industry in this regard by seeing that this Australian market is exploited more effectively.
I merely mention these matters - the Asian market, the United Kingdom situation, and our own Australian defence forces situation - to show that despite the competition that has been growing - and, admittedly, the competition from man-made fibres about which Senator Hannaford particularly seems to be most concerned has to be faced - there is still a very great demand for our national product, and there is likely to be a still greater demand.
The simple point of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition is that if you have an efficient industry in the matter of production and distribution, it is still harder for man-made fibres to compete with your national product. I can very well appreciate the importance of promotion to this industry because we are living in the day of high pressure salesmen, and the promotion of a product, despite the demand that is there for it, is always highly desirable. The question with which the amendment moved by Senator McKenna is concerned, and about which we have expressed our thoughts, is not so much the value of the promotion to the wool industry but the efficiency of the machinery by which the Australian wool clip will be sold. During the course of his remarks, Senator McKellar said that he thought the present auction system could and should be improved, lt will be agreed, I think, that if the system is not the most efficient then wool promotion will have difficulty in succeeding. Indeed, I believe that the Australian Wool Board bears out the very point I make in the conclusions it made in its first annual report, where it said, after having given full consideration to promotion and marketing that it came to the following conclusions: -
The board admits that there is every justification for examining the present system of marketing the Australian wool clip. It goes on, in its second conclusion, to say that wool promotion cannot succeed in its objectives if the method by which the Australian wool clip is sold is not the most efficient. That is the gravamen of the case made out last night by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), when he moved an amendment on behalf of the Opposition. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 4.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 May 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19640507_senate_25_s25/>.