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Tuesday, 11 April 1961

Mr HAROLD HOLT - The honorable gentleman has. used the term " depression " as descriptive of the current economic situation. I know that the word " depression " has a very sensitive significance for honorable gentlemen opposite, but how anybody whose party was in office in a period during which unemployment rose to 30 per cent. can describe less than 2 per cent of registered unemployment as a " depression " I cannot understand. Such a description would, I believe, offend the understanding of most realistic observers. The situation inside. Australia, while representing a decline from. the. peak activity towards the. end of last year, would still be regarded, by most countries of the world as one of continuing, steady prosperity.

It is true that some adjustments, which have been uncomfortable and painful in certain sections of the economy, have been a necessary consequence of the measures adopted by the Government. But I believe that most observers, looking around Australia at this time, will have come to the conclusion that, in view of measures taken to prevent a boom from developing into a bust, the situation is remarkable, not for how much hardship has occurred, but for how little dislocation has been experienced. There is undoubtedly a very much healthier basis to the whole economy at the present time. The Government is not merely watching the position closely, but is taking whatever measures seem to be appropriate to ensure that our progress is steady and well sustained.

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