Breaking the Sheep's Back

Charles Massy

Breaking the Sheep's Back
University of Queensland Press
1 August 2011

Breaking the Sheep’s Back

Charles Massy

Breaking the Sheep’s Back is Massy’s private royal commission - a must-read account of the decline and fall of the Australian wool empire.

Breaking the Sheep’s Back is the untold story of the events that led to Australia’s biggest industry disaster.

Once a great nation-building icon, the wool business today is but a third of its size when Australia ‘rode on the sheep’s back’. Compared to the more recent Australian Wheat Board scandal, 40 times more funds were lost in the downfall, and vastly more collateral social and economic damage was done in this country and across the globe.

This story is a tragedy that reached into the offices of prime ministers and Cabinet members across seven federal governments and its agencies. Despite this politically sanctioned collapse, there has never been a royal commission. Until now, no one has investigated what precipitated the great crash of February 1991 or the industry ongoing decline.

It has taken author Charles Massy ten years to research and write this book. In the process he spoke to most of the major players and gained access to the key documents and correspondence. He has gone inside cabinet and political offices, the Wool Corporation, the boardrooms of international wool buyers, wool processors and designers, and the living rooms of farmers across the country.

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