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Tuesday, 21 August 1906

Sir JOHN FORREST - The answers to the honorable and learned member's questions are as follow: -

1.   The average amount of silver coins issued to the Commonwealth, in the fifteen years ended 31st December, 1905, was £77,000 per annum. Taking this as a basis for the future, the profit to the Commonwealth will be about £38,000 per annum, or, roughly, one-half of the nominal value of silver coins to be issued. This does not take into consideration the profit (if any) to be derived from the withdrawal of the existing coinage, and the substitution of an Australian coinage, neither does it take into account the cost of rehabilitation of gold coinage. The amount of the existing coinage is estimated at from £1,200,000 to £2,000,000.

2.   It is desired to establish a decimal system of money concurrently with an Australian silver coinage, and to facilitate that end, the Imperial authorities were asked on the 10th March, 1905, to arrange for the withdrawal of £200,000 worth of silver coins per annum. No reply has been received, but the Treasurer during his recent' visit to England learned that the Imperial Government is unwilling to agree to the withdrawal of more than £109,000 per annum. He found that the question of silver coinage was one of great interest to several parts of the Empire, and that it was considered advisable that it should be included in the subjects to be submitted to the Imperial Conference which is to meet in London next year.

It is hoped that as a result of the Conference the profit on silver coinage will be secured to the Commonwealth on fair terms.

It is not clear that as implied in the question any large revenue is being finally lost. The net import into Australia of silver coins increases the profit which will accrue to the Commonwealth on the substitution of an Australian for the present currency, if the Imperial Government will agree to withdraw the latter at its nominal value.

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