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Tuesday, 6 September 1983
Page: 427


Mr HURFORD (Minister for Housing and Construction and Minister Assisting the Treasurer)(10.00) —in reply-In closing the second reading debate I thank all right honourable members who took part, except the Deputy Leader of the National Party, the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) who interjected in a disorderly fashion during his temporary stay in the House. In particular, I pay tribute to the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Cunningham) and the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Brumby) for their excellent contributions. Following discussions at the National Economic Summit Conference, the Government took steps to ensure that housing will play a leading part in economic recovery in this country. Our plan is directed to people buying their first homes. It is a plan which is income tested and targeted to those who are in the greatest need.

I will have great pleasure in introducing to the Parliament tomorrow night the First Home Owners Bill 1983 which will display how the Government intends to use housing in order to get the economy going. Of course, a major part of our plan is the proposal to pay from 1 October a new cash subsidy and this is contained in the First Home Owners Bill. The Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill (No. 3) will continue the existing rebate for first home buyers but one would not know that from any of the contributions from honourable members opposite. The honourable member for Bendigo and the honourable member for McMillan mentioned that the rebate will continue. This targeted proposal does not end with the Income Tax Assessment Amendment Bill (No. 3). The rebate will go to those in greatest need-the new first home buyers who are within the means test. The income test on the tax rebate will mean that eligible families with a taxable income in 1982-83 of $24,300 or less, which is 135 per cent of average weekly earnings, will receive the rebate in full. The rebate benefit will shade out in the income range $24,300 to $27,900, which is 155 per cent of average weekly earnings.

Honourable members will realise that the rebate can be up to $700 in the first full year of home ownership or $500 per annum if there are no children. It shades out over the following few years. So it does not end with this Bill at all. It goes to those in greatest need. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The fact is that the proposals that have been introduced by the Labor Government in the last six months have meant a revival of the housing industry. We have also moved to protect those home buyers who might not have been eligible for either the tax rebate or the new cash subsidy. Those who contract to buy or build on or before 30 September will be eligible for the tax rebate from the time they occupy their homes if they are not eligible for the cash subsidy we will be introducing from 1 October. Our total housing package will- indeed it has already because of the expectation that has been aroused-stimulate home building in a responsible way. It will generate at least 25,000 additional jobs directly in the building industry, and other jobs will be created in the materials supply and consumer industries associated with housing. The new cash subsidy will be a better directed scheme. It is better presented. It is going to the lending institutions, enabling them to lend more. It is getting enormous support from the Housing Industry Association, the Master Builders Association, the banks, the building societies and all of those who are involved in this great industry.

Recovery in the United States is coming from the housing and construction area. We mean that to happen in Australia. It is already happening because of the better policies of this Labor Government. The Bill will ensure that the lower income first home buyers who entered into home ownership at the time of high interest rates will continue to receive assistance to the end of their fifth year of first home ownership. We are pleased that that is so. We are pleased that we are able to introduce better measures for those entering into home ownership from now on. Once again, I thank honourable members, in particular honourable members from this side of the House, who took part in what has been an interesting debate.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.