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Thursday, 28 March 1957


Mr Webb b asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

1.   Has the Commonwealth gold subsidy failed to stimulate production and is production continuing to slip back?

2.   Is it a fact that the International Monetary Fund will not agree to an increase in the price of gold?

3.   Will he consider increasing the Commonwealth subsidy in order to preserve this vital section of the nation's mining industry and save marginal gold mines from going out of production?


Sir Arthur Fadden - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   The subsidy scheme embodied in the Coldmining Industry Assistance Act 1954-1956 was devised as a scheme of assistance for the goldmining industry against the background of a rise in the industry's costs and a fixed official world price of gold. Since the scheme was introduced, Australian gold production has been maintained at a fairly stable level. A fall in production in 1955 as compared with 1954 was due almost entirely to the closing of one large mine, which before the introduction of the subsidy scheme has already indicated its intention of suspending operations.

2.   Under the articles of agreement of the International Monetary Fund an increase in the price of gold can be effected only by a uniform change in the par values of all the members' currencies in terms of gold after a majority vote in favour including approval by every member holding 10 per cent, or more of the total quotas. The United States, which holds some 27 per cent, of the total quotas, is opposed to an increase in the price of gold, and the question has never been put to a formal vote in the fund. However, Australia has argued the case for a review of the price of gold at past annual meetings of the Monetary Fund and there has been no change in Government policy on this issue.

3.   Representations by the gold-mining industry for certain amendments to the subsidy scheme are being examined.







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