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Tuesday, 17 February 1959

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) (Treasurer) - The only information I have on this unhappy event is what I have gathered from the press, but I am quite certain that all members of the Government and of the Parliament will sympathize with those who have been adversely affected by the cyclonic troubles in that part of the world. Unfortunately, it seems to be a sort of local hazard in what otherwise is a very .attractive and congenial area of our continent. Now, as to the aid which may be given: In circumstances where serious damage has occurred, a fairly well established practice has grown up in Australia under which, if a State government makes a contribution for the relief of personal hardship and distress, it usually follows that contribution with a request to the Commonwealth for aid in comparable terms- Normally, a contribution is made by the Commonwealth corresponding to that made by the State. The circumstances may vary a little from time to time, and the results may vary, but that, as I understand it, is the general practice. So far as I am aware, no official request on the lines mentioned by the honorable member has yet reached the Commonwealth Government. I shall make inquiries on the matter but, in any event, the honorable member may be assured that if the Queensland Government itself finds it necessary to take relief action, and makes a request to the Commonwealth, that request will be sympathetically examined.

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