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Thursday, 24 March 1966

Mr HAROLD HOLT - Mr. Speaker,the Commonwealth Government, of course, does have a general policy of encouragement of decentralisation, although most of the practical measures which can be taken in this field reside with the Governments of the States. Decentralisation has to be viewed, not merely as an act of government, however, but as the creation of an economic climate favourable to such development as will have decentralisation consequences and will assist Australia. At this time perhaps the most spectacular illustration of decentralisation on a practical and growing scale is the development of our mineral resources. The Commonwealth Government has shown its recognition of the need for assistance in various ways. The equalisation of petrol tax is a recent illustration. The creation of a committee to deal with transport costs in the north of Australia, the report of which is currently under study, is another illustration. There are, as we all know, practical problems associated with the objective, but we are working in conjunction with the States.

Mr Luchetti - Will the Prime Minister call a ministerial meeting?

Mr HAROLD HOLT - There is a committee in existence, I understand.

Mr Luchetti - I am referring to a ministerial meeting, not a committee.

Mr HAROLD HOLT - The honorable gentleman's suggestion could certainly be considered sympathetically. My colleague the Minister for Trade and Industry is, I believe, the appropriate Commonwealth Minister as to relationships in these matters. But our support of the objective is clear.

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