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Tuesday, 10 November 1959

Mr MENZIES - The question invites a long debate on a variety of circumstances, and I do not propose to enter into it. I appreciate the honorable member's interest in this matter. All I can tell him is that the terms of this projected loan by the Commonwealth to Queensland not only have been accepted completely by the Government of that State but also have been accepted with great pleasure and satisfaction. I think that the result of it all will be to the great advantage of Queensland.

The honorable member has referred to the terms of the loan. If he has troubled himself to read the published terms of my letter to the Premier of Queensland - I hope they have been published since I issued them - he will have observed that what we were doing in fact was to put ourselves in the position of lender that would have been occupied by the International Bank had the negotiations with that bank succeeded. Nothing could be fairer than that, and the Government of Queensland believes it to be completely fair.

To compare Mount Isa with other projects is really to beat the air because the circumstances of every case have been different. For example, in the case of Western Australia we have found, or are finding, a substantial sum of money, not by way of loan but by way of grant. There is a special arrangement with the Government of Victoria in relation to the standardization of the rail gauge between Wodonga and Melbourne which follows a pattern that has been previously established in relation to other matters affecting the standard gauge. For the Snowy Mountains scheme, all the money is provided by the Commonwealth year by year out of revenue, as the honorable member well knows, but the interesting thing is that it is all treated as loan money and the price to be charged for the power that is supplied to New South Wales and Victoria will be sufficient ultimately to amortize the whole cost of the scheme. In effect, the Governments of those States are undertaking in due course the amortization of the whole cost. So that each of those cases stands on its own feet and has to be considered on its own merits. I hope that the honorable member will not feel disposed to deprive me of the pleasure I feel in the fact that we have arrived at a conclusion about the Mount Isa railway which, I believe, is quite remarkably satisfactory to all parties to the discussions and, of course, to that great State, Queensland.

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