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Monday, 29 September 1997
Page: 8640

Mr NEHL —My question is addressed to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. I refer the minister to his announcement at the National RSL Congress in Adelaide earlier this month that interest rates on veterans' concessional home loan rates would soon fall to at least 1½ percentage points below the market rate. I ask the minister: how many veterans will benefit from this cut? How will defence services home loan borrowers in my electorate of Cowper be able to benefit from the new lower rate when it takes effect?

Mr BRUCE SCOTT —I thank the member for Cowper for his question. Not only has he got a great interest in the Pacific Highway but he has a great interest in the veterans of his community. So highly regarded is the member for Cowper by the veteran community in his electorate that he is also patron of the Vietnam Veterans Association in Coffs Harbour.

As I announced at the national conference of the RSL, defence service home loan rates currently at 6.85 per cent are set to fall to 5.63 percentage points. That is a direct result of this government's good economic policy. It is a problem that that side of the House would never have had. If they say that they would have had it they would say that they might have done something about it in years to come.

What the member for Cowper should tell his constituents is that we will be guaranteeing, as a genuine compensation measure to those with defence service home loans, that those defence service home loans will always have a minimum of 1½ percentage points compensation in those interest rates. The member for Cowper should also tell the veterans in his electorate, as should all members of this House, that those who have taken out an additional loan at the rate of 10 percentage points will have that additional loan rolled into this new loan. Labor had those additional loans at 10 per cent. Under the coalition, those additional loans will be rolled into the new rate likely to be 5.63 per cent.

The member for Cowper should also know and confirm to his constituents that existing home loan borrowers will not have to pay any additional fees as a result of this new measure. He should also tell his constituents that 50,000 veterans with defence service home loans are set to benefit from this measure. It is anticipated that they will benefit to the tune of about $20 per month as a result of this measure.

The member for Cowper should also advise his constituents that they should never vote Labor because this is a problem that Labor would never have had. He should also tell his constituents that the young and the restless down there would like to introduce death duties. Not only would his constituents be exposed to higher interest rates under a Labor government but when they had passed on death duties would be paid out of their estate on what they would pass on to their next generation.