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Friday, 20 February 1987
Page: 460

Mr HOWARD —My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer him to his statement on 2 April last year that the Government would guarantee the construction of 135,000 new houses this financial year. Given that the housing industry now anticipates that there will be only 118,000 new housing starts-17,000 fewer than the Prime Minister's guarantee-and in the light of the forecasts made by the Indicative Planning Council for the Housing Industry yesterday and referred to by the New South Wales Minister for Housing in the New South Wales Parliament that home loan interest rates are unlikely to fall, and may even rise during the current financial year, what is the Prime Minister's excuse for the continued parlous state of the Australian housing industry?

Mr HAWKE —We have been down this track a couple of times with questions from the shadow Minister for Housing and Construction, the honourable member for Deakin. Firstly, the document to which the Leader of the Opposition referred-the one reported in the Press-is a working document from the New South Wales Indicative Planning Council which will be considered by its national counterpart in due course. I do not want to take up the time of the House by making these points, but at least I will start off with the first point, which I have made on a number of occasions before. As in any area of economic policy to which the Leader of the Opposition wants to refer, he speaks from a foundation of failure-the failure of all areas of economic policies which, taken together, meant that he walked out of office in March 1983 having plunged the Australian economy into its worst recession for 50 years. A significant part of the fact that the Australian economy was in its worst recession for 50 years was what the Opposition had done to the housing industry, because the number of housing starts in the last year of the former Government was 105,000. If the Opposition wants to know how to conduct a housing industry, compared with its own pathetic performance, it should look at the record of this Government.