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Thursday, 25 November 1965

Mr HAROLD HOLT - Mr. Speaker,I think the question invites the kind of comment which normally you would not wish to hear made in answer to a question without notice. Therefore, I propose to comment in very general terms only to this effect: As I said publicly yesterday, there are some soft spots in the economy. I think the honorable gentleman has placed his finger on several of them. At the same time, the economy generally is sufficiently buoyant to absorb nearly all the labour offering at the present time. My recollection is that at the end of October the number of persons in receipt of unemployment benefit was the lowest figure since 1956. So, there is not any great availability of resources.

The honorable gentleman has pointed to the construction industry. Here, again, the figures for the three months ending October showed a rise of 34 per cent, in the non-residential building approvals which is probably the highest figure we have obtained in any similar period in the history of this country. So the picture is not found to be identical throughout the various parts of the economy. The drought has affected some areas. The Government periodically makes a review of the way in which the economy is functioning and takes such corrective action as it deems to be necessary. That kind of review is in our minds periodically. When we come to the next review we shall be making a survey embracing what I have termed the " soft spots" and we shall be looking to the corrective action that may be necessary to meet the situation.

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