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Wednesday, 19 April 1961

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) (Treasurer) - With due respect to you, Mr. Speaker, and your tolerance in these matters-

Mr Calwell - That is a reflection on the Chair.

Mr HAROLD HOLT - No. My remarks are not intended as a reflection on the Chair, as the Chair will appreciate. No one has greater respect than I have for Mr. Speaker. The point I am trying to make is that to answer the question asked by the honorable member for Parkes in its detail would lead me into arguments and comments which would be quite beyond the limits of the Standing Orders. As the honorable gentleman knows, this Government has given a great deal of attention - far more than any government before it of which I am aware - to the problem which has developed of banking or quasi-banking operations being conducted outside the normal banking channels. Already an interim measure directed to part of that particular problem is on the statute-book.

Since that measure was drafted, a great deal of work has proceeded inside the Treasury and other departments. I hope to be able to inform the House of the outcome of our consideration of these matters at no distant date. Some of the questions raised by the honorable gentleman go beyond the competence of the Commonwealth Parliament. They relate to aspects which more appropriately come within the jurisdiction of the law officers of the various States.

It is certainly not true that insurance companies have not made finance available for housing purposes. A total ot nearly £30,000,000 came from the insurance offices for this purpose last year. The speculative activities to which the honorable gentleman referred have certainly been curbed as a result of policies adopted by this Government - policies which I regret to say have been consistently attacked by honorable gentlemen opposite.

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