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Tuesday, 14 May 1957

Mr McEWEN - -I have not seen the report to which the honorable member refers, but I am aware of the economic fact that in an inflationary situation a free inflow of imports is an anti-inflationary element. The Government is quite aware of that, and that knowledge is present in its thinking and its decisions. Indeed, it was one of the factors, although not the determining factor, in the Government's mind when it relaxed import controls by £75,000,000 a year. On the other hand, if one is discussing general national economics, it is not to be overlooked that one cannot set out on a course of relaxing import controls irrespective of the effect that that may have on the country's overseas balances and reserves and its capacity to maintain solvency in international exchange. So, the decision taken on the scale of expenditure on imports is not taken by the Department of Trade but is a top-level decision of the Government itself, and all the relevant factors are taken into account.

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