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Thursday, 27 April 1961


Mr HAROLD HOLT - I would have thought that the honorable gentleman was rather better informed about the nature of the negotiations which have gone on over the years between the Commonwealth and the State governments on the subject of railway standardization. Rail standardization, which is a railway programme linking up the Commonwealth as a whole, and what is being done in respect of a particular railway link in one State for a particular commercial undertaking, are very different matters. But the substance of the reply to the honorable gentleman is this: As he knows, the Government of Queensland, with Commonwealth assistance, sought to raise from the World Bank an amount approximating - I believe equal to - that mentioned as coming from the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Government gave such aid as it could to the Government of Queensland in the application. Because, in the view of the company concerned primarily, the conditions prescribed by the World Bank were not acceptable to it, those negotiations broke down. The Commonwealth Government, recognizing very clearly the importance of this project to Queensland, and indeed to the Australian economy as a whole, took the action which has resulted in its expressed willingness to advance up to £20,000,000 for the purposes of this railway reconstruction. In effect, it put itself in the place that the World Bank would have occupied in this matter but, if anything, on somewhat more favorable terms for the Government of Queensland.


Mr Calwell - Could you not have done better than that?


Mr HAROLD HOLT - We have done a great deal better - I very nearly said " a damn sight better " - than the honorable gentleman and his colleagues were ever able to do for Queensland, and we intend to give continuing practical evidence of our interest in the development of the north of Australia in the years ahead.







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