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Tuesday, 22 November 1960

Mr HAROLD HOLT - I thank the honorable gentleman for putting this question to me, because I was somewhat dismayed to see the interpretation put by some sections of the press on remarks which I made last evening at a meeting in the Higinbotham by-election campaign. Of course, I did not say that if the measures recently adopted had not been taken, this country would have drifted into a state of depression. What I said - I put it as briefly as I can - was that we, as a government, had certain broad goals of national expansion associated with full employment and that we had been able to maintain steady progress in the direction of those goals over recent years, during which our terms of trade had worsened from, say, a base ot 100 in 1953 to something under 70 at the present time. I made the point that it had been necessary to modify our economic tactics as we encountered these problems from time to time. I said that a deterioration in the terms of trade of that magnitude in earlier years when these tactics might not have been adopted so readily, could easily have led us into a situation of depression comparable with that of the 1930's. I think that honorable members who have some prior knowledge and experience of these matters will see that there is quite a significant difference between that statement and the version which subsequently appeared in the press.

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