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Wednesday, 15 March 1961

Mr HAROLD HOLT - The honorable gentleman speaks of concern being felt on this matter. I realize that many people are interested in the question of decimal currency and no doubt there are some practical problems which would vary in degree for different individuals according to the way in which the Government's general policy decision is taken and the detailed application of any affirmative decision to go ahead with decimal currency. The Government has not been idle on this matter. There was a good deal of cabinet discussion on it prior to the end of last year and we arranged for accredited observers to go from this country to watch the transition process as it occurred in South Africa. But I would point out to the honorable gentleman that, although we have a very valuable report from the committee which was set up to examine certain aspects of the matter, there are other aspects on which the committee was not required to report and which are still of practical moment to us. There is the problem of the minting of coinage should any change in currency policy be determined. Wrapped up with that is the practical question of Whether we need additional minting capacity. There are also the question as to when a mint should be established in Canberra and the question of the time required for the minting of new coins in order to build up a stock before any change is made.

In saying those things, I do not wish to convey the impression that the Government has already come to a firm decision on this matter. I propose, a little later in the session, when the want of confidence motion has been disposed of - I hope satisfactorily from the Government's point of view - to ask the House to afford me an opportunity to state the Government's attitude on this matter in rather more detail. This matter is by no means a simple one. I think that, at a time when the economy has been subjected to the influence of some unsettling factors, we do not need to look to the kind of timetable which might earlier have appeared to be desirable. However, T shall be able to say a little more about that later.

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