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Wednesday, 1 December 1965

Mr HAROLD HOLT - I know that the honorable gentleman would be only too happy to see a state of affairs develop that would cause some political embarrassment to the Government. I assure him that this will not occur. The decline he speaks of in the growth rate was predicted in the Budget Speech, if he will recall it. I pointed out that having absorbed the labour which had previously been idle we could not rely on the same rate of addition to the work force in the current financial year. We predicted, in effect, that where there was a 4 per cent, growth in the work force there would be a 3.5 per cent, growth this year. In addition I think it is well known to all honorable members that production, which would be counted in relation to gross national product, on many of the farms and in many of the rural areas of this country has suffered as a result of drought conditions. A rate of 6 per cent, at constant prices is a relatively high rate of increase of gross national product. While I state it as a rate which stands comparison with most other countries, I am not putting a rate of 6 per cent, at current prices forward as a level which we would regard as satisfactory in a continuing sense. But the factors that I have mentioned have to be taken into account. No doubt there are other factors which would be brought into a full statement on this matter.

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