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Thursday, 21 March 1968

Mr McMAHON (LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - The figures are now available for the first 8 months of this financial year. The actual surplus in our balance of payments is of the order of $129m. From this has to be deducted an amount of $113m lost due to devaluation of our foreign reserves, giving a net increase in our overseas balances of $16m for the first 8 months of this year. As to the second part of the honourable gentleman's question, I think he knows that guessing at movements in the balance of payments for even the short period of 4 months is a hazardous sort of occupation. So 1 think he will forgive me if I merely state the facts and do not come to any conclusion about what the final figure will be. But I make this comment: It must be obvious that this country is regarded internationally as having a stable currency; it is regarded as a place that is safe for investment, a country where people can invest money with confidence. I think that we have every reason to be proud of the performances of this country, particularly having in mind the big increase in the defence vote and our overseas expenditure associated with it, and also the very severe drought that has affected us during the course of the last few years.

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