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Thursday, 4 May 1961

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) (Treasurer) - The honorable member has not stated accurately the level of Australia's overseas reserves, and the rest of his question again seems to reveal the confusion which exists in the minds of honorable members opposite about where they stand on the question of investment from overseas, whether it be by way of loan or industrial investment. As I pointed out yesterday, at this moment the Treasurer of the Government of New South Wales is most assiduously combing various countries in various parts of the world trying to induce people to invest money in Australia which will, in turn, as I pointed out yesterday, involve us in more future external commitments.

As I think I told the House on an earlier occasion, the Canadian loan was not solicited by this Government. An offer was made to us of a lending on terms which we found acceptable, and the loan has the useful purpose of strengthening our overseas balances at this time, lt will be used, of course, in aid of the programme of works and housing which the Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the six State governments, has agreed to carry out. As honorable members know, the total of our loan raisings both overseas and inside Australia is quite inadequate to meet the total cost of the State housing and works programmes, let alone the capital programme of the Commonwealth. The Canadian loan will be applied to those purposes, and it will have the effect of reducing the gap between what we can raise by way of loan and what we have to find out of the revenues of the Commonwealth.

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