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Tuesday, 2 May 1961

Mr HAROLD HOLT - Overseas loans and overseas investment do, of course, create some obligations. In the case of overseas loans, there are obligations in relation to the final repayment of the principal amount and the payment of interest. In the case of overseas investment here, if the investment is successful - as, fortunately, most overseas investment in Australia has been in recent years - there is involved in some cases the payment of dividends and in some instances the remission of capital payments. However, we generally find that overseas investors, once they are established here, invest in Australia a good deal of their profits, by way of expansion of their undertakings. Overseas investment has been a great source of strength to Australia, particularly in the post-war period. The Government has watched this process quite closely, because we certainly do not want it to reach unmanageable or undesirable proportions. The cost of servicing our obligations, as a proportion of our export income, is now only a fraction of what it was in the 1930's. It is of quite comfortable dimensions at the present time. The degree of influence of overseas investment on the Australian economy is so small as to be of no great consequence to us. Indeed, 90 per cent, of the investment in Australia is still investment from Australian sources. The purpose of the honorable gentleman's question is not entirely clear to me. In fact, the attitude of the Labour Party on this matter is not clear to me because while criticisms come from the Leader of the Opposition and others with him, the Treasurer of the Labour Government of New South Wales is currently overseas trying to arouse interest among overseas investors in investment in the State of New South Wales.

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