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Tuesday, 15 March 1966

Mr Hayden n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

1.   Is India presently suffering a severe drought which is causing food shortages and hence widespread starvation of the population?

2.   Has the Australian Government received any request from the Indian Government for gifts of food to help that country in this serious situation; if so, can he give the details of the request and state what action his Government intends to take to help India in response to the request?

3.   If no request has been received, will the Government take the initiative by approaching the Indian Government and offer to send gifts of food to that country during this present period of privation?

Mr Harold Holt - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows -

1.   A severe drought in India has caused food shortages which have been complicated by distribution problems.

2.   We have received a request from the Indian Government for assistance and steps have been taken to meet this request. The Minister for External Affairs announced on 17th February that the Government had offered India $8 million in food aid. The gift will be predominantly in the form of wheat and will also include some milk powder and other products.

3.   See answer to 2.

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