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Wednesday, 7 September 1983
Page: 461


Mr HURFORD (Minister for Housing and Construction)(11.36) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

This Bill provides for amendments to the Home Deposit Assistance Act 1982 arising from the introduction of the first home owners scheme on 1 October 1983 and the removal of the savings provisions from 1 August 1983. Presently, the Act provides for eligible first home owners who acquire their dwelling on or after 18 March 1982 to receive a grant of up to $3,500, depending on their income, savings history and number of dependants. The First Home Owners Bill will apply to those who acquire their first dwelling from 1 October 1983. An amendment to the Home Deposit Assistance Act is therefore required to terminate assistance under that Act in respect of dwellings acquired after 30 September 1983. The Act currently provides for savings to be held in one or more of the approved forms for at least one year immediately before the date of the home contract. The grant is paid on the basis of one dollar for every dollar saved in an acceptable form with a maximum basic grant of $2,500 where there have been two or more complete years of savings.

On 21 July 1983, I announced that the Government would remove the savings provision to take effect from 1 August 1983. This amendment will mean that first home buyers contracting to buy or build a dwelling between 1 August 1983 and 30 September 1983 will no longer need to hold acceptable savings to qualify for a home deposit assistance grant. The amount of assistance will depend solely on their income. Those who purchased prior to 1 August 1983 will still need to meet the savings requirement. My Department is presently examining applications for assistance under this proposed amendment to enable those affected to be advised of their likely entitlement subject to the passage of this amendment. This will allow for speedy payment to those who will benefit from this amendment and who are arranging for their financial package with this in mind. The removal of the savings requirement is consistent with the Government's first home owners scheme under which savings will not be a prerequisite for assistance. Our aim is to help low to moderate income earners into home ownership, particularly those who have been unable to save. The responses to this initiative have been considerable. It has already provided a stimulatory boost to the housing industry. There will be no arbitrary cut-off for applications under the Home Deposit Assistance Act. Considerable personal difficulty was caused by the previous Government's decision to apply a short cut-off to the old home savings grant scheme, and we will not repeat that mistake. Nevertheless we will be urging people who bought before 30 September 1983 to lodge their applications promptly.

The Government, in line with announced policies, has also introduced a Bill to amend the Income Tax Assessment Act. The effect will be that there will be no new entrants to the first home buyers loan interest rebate scheme after 30 September 1983. That amendment will also extend eligibility under the tax rebate scheme to cover those first home buyers who acquire their dwelling up to 30 September 1983 but who do not occupy it by that date. At present the tax rebate scheme commences from the date of occupancy. The provisions of the Home Deposit Assistance Act Amendment Bill are in keeping with our overall housing philosophy . I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr McVeigh) adjourned.