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Tuesday, 20 September 1949


Mr HOLT (FAWKNER, VICTORIA) - Arising out of the Government's decision to fall in line with the action of the British Government in devaluing sterling, I had intended to ask the Prime Minister a specific question, but in view of the statement which the right honorable gentleman has just made in reply to a question, he may prefer to delay furnishing an answer to the specific query which I shall now put to him. Doubtless he is aware of the many important effects which the decision to devalue the currency will have, notably cn the prices of petrol- and tobacco which Australia imports from the United States of America and which carry , a high rate of excise. As the prices of those goods will inevitably increase unless action is taken by th,e Government, will the right honorable gentleman consider reducing the duties on them - if the Cabinet has not already decided to do bo- in order that prices charged to the public may remain unchanged)


Mr CHIFLEY - The whole aspect of dollar imports will have to be examined, first of all by the inter-departmental committee on dollar imports, which is considering the matter now, then by a Cabinet sub-committee, and finally by Cabinet itself. I am unable to give the honorable member any indication, or to offer any hope, of action being taken along the lines that he has indicated. All that I can say to him now is that the whole matter of dollar imports is being examined, including the issue of import licences and the collection of customs and excise duties. I do not know whether that examination can be completed within the next week or so. As soon as I am in a position to make a statement concerning the matter, I shall do so. However, I do not want the honorable member to indulge undue hopes that all dollar imports which might be affected by the devaluation of the currency will be the subject of governmental action to prevent increases of price, or that the Government will pay subsidies to obviate such increases. As I have said, all aspects of the matter will be thoroughly examined. I repeat that the position has not yet been discussed by Cabinet.







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