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Thursday, 27 April 1961

Mr HAROLD HOLT - I make no comment on the last part of the honorable gentleman's question. My colleague, the Attorney-General, offered some views on that matter when the House discussed it a week or so ago. I can assure the honorable gentleman that the question of decimal currency and the consequences that would flow if a policy decision to adopt this system in the foreseeable future were taken by the Government, have been very much in my mind and in the minds of officers of the Treasury, and already have received Cabinet consideration. The honorable member referred to the report of the committee which the Government constituted to examine certain aspects of the matter. I have already informed the House that the committee was not required to report upon other quite important aspects, which have a bearing upon the timetable should a decision to introduce decimal currency be taken. One of these aspects is the provision of a new mint to cope with the new coins that would have to be minted. Experience in South Africa would suggest that after a mint has been constructed and the equipment installed, a considerable build-up of stocks of coins is desirable before the change-over is made, if there is not to be some confusion and commercial dislocation. So these problems, which involve questions of construction, of f actory production and of the coinage, have also to be brought into the picture.

Work has been done on these problems since the first Cabinet consideration, and I have a further draft submission for Cabinet before me at the present time. We have not been idle in other directions, either. As I told the House some time ago, we have sent observers to South Africa to watch the transition there from the former currency to decimal currency, and we have the benefit of that information available to us. There will be no delay beyond what the Government regards as unavoidable, but we have many important matters before us - matters which, in the judgment of the Government, are of higher priority at present than that to which the honorable member has referred.

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