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Thursday, 24 March 1966

Mr HAROLD HOLT - Yesterday the honorable member for Isaacs asked whether there had been any difficulty in the unloading and handling of food aid for India, and whether there are ways of treating shipments more expeditiously so that the food will be delivered to the places where it is most needed. I understand that the first ship carrying wheat to India under our current emergency food programme was due to reach Calcutta on Tuesday last. 22nd March. We have, therefore, as yet had no experience of the unloading and handling of the food aid that we are now sending to India. While the Indian Government does face problems in handling and distributing the large quantity of wheat entering the country each week, it is tackling those problems in a positive and constructive way and our understanding is that it expects to be able, with some assistance from overseas, to handle all the emergency food aid that it is to receive. India has asked Australia to supply, as part of this country's gift, port handling equipment in the form of bagging and stitching plants, fork lifts and grabs. The Government is examining the availability of this equipment with a view to providing it urgently.

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