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Thursday, 4 May 1961

Mr HAROLD HOLT - As I think the honorable gentleman is aware, when the Australian Loan Council meets, the State Premiers and Treasurers discuss with myself and the Prime Minister, when he is present at these meetings, the level of borrowing for the year which is to apply to the local government authorities. Over recent years, there has been an increase in that total amount.

Mr L R Johnson - I am not talking about loans.

Mr HAROLD HOLT - Then the honorable member is talking about the revenue that local government authorities derive from rates and the obligations they have to assume. That is a matter which, as he knows, comes directly within the province of the State governments. If my recollection is correct, at an earlier point of time the head of the Australian Government asked the various State Premiers whether they would favour a meeting of the kind to which the honorable member has referred. The response at that stage was unfavorable. It is interesting to learn that the New South Wales Government apparently is now disposed to hold such a conference. Whether or not that is the attitude of the State Premiers generally is a matter of which I have no recent knowledge; but of course matters of that kind are directly within the province of the Prime Minister rather than myself. Perhaps at some suitable time the right honorable gentleman could enlighten the honorable member on the subject.

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