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Thursday, 23 March 1961

Mr HAROLD HOLT - Yes, I am glad to be able to report to the House that a loan from Canadian sources has been successfully negotiated and underwritten. The programme of borrowing for the year, as outlined in the Budget, was for about £150,000,000. That included borrowings both inside Australia and overseas. I think it worth while to remind honorable members that the total works programme of the State governments was of the order of £230,000,000 as it emerged from the Australian Loan Council meeting. The total works programme of the Commonwealth and States amounts, in the aggregate, to £424,000,000. So that when we budget to raise £150,000,000, that is really only a relatively small proportion of our total commitments for these governmental programmes.

The programme of borrowing has been proceeding quite satisfactorily, . having regard to the Budget target. We have raised £77,000,000 ourselves internally and now, with this Canadian loan, we have raised £26,000,000 from overseas. With certain State domestic borrowings, and special bonds yet to be sold, we get a total of £110,000,000, which leaves about £40,000,000 to be raised between now and the end of the financial year.

Having regard to the general situation and, in particular, to some of the comments made in relation to it, it will not be without interest to honorable members to point out that the two most recent overseas loans - those from Switzerland and Canada - had not been immediately solicited by the Government. In both cases, we were asked whether we would be interested hi a loan from those sources at this time. In the case of the Canadian loan, we made history in that, for the first time, the loan agreement was signed in Canberra yesterday. That was the first time any such loan agreement had been actually signed on Australian shores. I regard it as a very encouraging mark of the confidence felt by overseas lenders at this time when they themselves ask the Commonwealth Government whether it is interested in borrowing from their sources.

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