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Wednesday, 13 September 1972
Page: 1266

Dr PATTERSON (DAWSON, QUEENSLAND) - My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Is he aware of the repeated statements that are being made by the Minister for Primary Industry and the Minister for Trade and Industry that the Government is establishing a national rural bank and that figures of $300m to $400m have been mentioned? I ask whether the Prime Minister still remembers that on television he debunked this idea, using the following words:

No, I do not think it is on; not in the immediate future; certainly not.

Has this matter in fact been considered by Cabinet? If it has, when will the Government make a decision? If it has not, what authority have the Minister for Primary Industry and the Minister for Trade and Industry to make public statements purporting to be from the Cabinet, that a national rural bank is in fact being established?

Mr McMAHON The honourable gentleman should know, if he reads the newspapers, that there have been discussions within the whole ministerial system about the viability of establishing a rural bank. It has also been made clear, as a matter of policy, that if such a bank is a viable proposition the Liberal Party will support it. There have been many detailed discussions between the Minister for Primary Industry and the Treasurer, who are my colleagues associated with this problem. Also there have been discussions about this problem with me and I have been very interested in it. At the moment we are not in a position where we can state clearly and unequivocally that we feel that a rural bank is a viable proposition. In fact, in a case like this where the Commonwealth Trading Bank and the other trading banks are so intimately involved, as are the pastoral houses and the insurance companies, a great deal more precision is required before we can decide for ourselves whether a rural bank -vin be established.

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