In the early 2000s, the Tasmanian wool selling landscape changed dramatically.
Rather than having sales four times a year at the state’s own woolstores, it was decided that Tasmanian wool would be sold in Melbourne.
But could Tasmanian woolgrowers ever have the opportunity to see their wool sold in their own state again?
Roberts Tasmania wool manager Stewart Raine said while he wished he could say yes, it was unlikely this would ever happen.
“There was a cost to the industry having Tasmanian wool sales, and as things changed, the industry wasn’t willing to wear the cost anymore,” Mr Raine said.
He said the transition had offered more efficiencies, and greater access to the marketplace.
“There are more ways now that Tasmanian woolgrowers can sell their wool, they can sell it in the fortnightly auctions we facilitate in Melbourne, they can sell online using Wool Trade, or they can sell privately,” he said.
“There’s still lots of flexibility and lots of access to the market.”
The transition did mean the woolstores across Tasmania became less pivotal to the supply chain.
“When wool sales were centralised to Melbourne, there was no requirement for a showfloor anymore, so the stores got smaller,” he said.
Wool is still stored in the many woolstores across the state, but only a sample is transported to the mainland for testing and to be displayed on the showfloor.
Once the bales are sold, they are then transported to the Melbourne ports ready for shipment overseas.
He said while there was a freight component involved in this process, “with air and sea freight the way it is, these barriers are easily overcome”.
Mr Raine said the priority was ensuring Tasmanian woolgrowers have the greatest access to buyers possible.
“Being able to participate in a fortnightly sale, rather than waiting for one of the four sales to come each year, gives them greater access to the market,” he said.
“We need to ensure that we can garner the maximum amount of competition possible, and the best way to do that is at Melbourne.”
What do you think? Should wool be sold in Tasmania? Comment below.