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Tuesday, 21 March 1961

Mr HAROLD HOLT - I welcome the question from the honorable gentleman because it provides me with an opportunity to correct some inaccuracies that appeared in some press reports this morning of remarks I made last night to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Sydney. What I said bears directly on the point raised by the honorable gentleman. 1 was making the point that the pattern of development of the 1960's could not be expected to follow that of the 19.50's in Australia. A feature of our development in the 1950's was the quite phenomenal growth of our manufacturing industries, which absorbed migrant labour and the addition to our work force from our own natural increase. I said that this had largely occurred in the capital cities of Melbourne and Sydney - not exclusively, of course, but disproportionately to the rest of the Commonwealth. It had been associated with very important increases in the price and cost levels and in the wage level.

I am convinced that we cannot repeat that kind of process in the 1960's. In the first place, we could not afford increases in the cost level on the scale that has occurred in the past ten years. Secondly, I do not think it would be a good thing for growth to proceed around those two capital cities on the same scale as during the past ten years. Recognizing that 75 per cent, of the imports we now bring into Australia is needed to service the manufacturing industries, and industry in general, we believe that in the next ten years we must place more emphasis on the development of export income largely outside the capital cities of the Commonwealth, and this will involve a good deal of decentralization of industry in the various outlying areas and cities of Australia.

The honorable member asked whether we had any plans. Yes, we do have plans. We indicated some of the major projects we had in mind for this purpose. We recognize that they require some detailed discussion with the State governments, and we hope that the State governments themselves will be prepared to make their contribution towards the objective, which we believe will be to the advantage of Australia generally.

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