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Wednesday, 4 March 1970

Mr GORTON - The Government is aware that there is rural indebtedness. It has increased for a variety of reasons. One reason, which was mentioned by the honourable member, is the drought situation which has occurred in various parts of Australia. Part of the indebtedness has come about as a result of the assistance given by the Government to the rural community to allow it to carry on in such drought conditions. I remind the honourable member that, as far as the Commonwealth is concerned, the assistance is provided in the form of carry on loans and other loans which bear no interest whatever. Surely this is one example of an attempt to help those people who live in rural areas to meet such disasters. Although the loans have to be repaid eventually no interest is charged. The honourable member can be assured that the situation of the rural industries will be constantly in the mind of the Australian Government and that it will do what it can to assist those industries in the situation of falling overseas markets in which they find themselves. One example of that kind of assistance I have already given lo the House.

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