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Tuesday, 5 May 1987
Page: 2568

Mr SCOTT —Can the Prime Minister advise the House of how the Government's housing package has been received within the housing industry?

Mr HAWKE —Well, Madam Speaker--

Mr Tim Fischer —I rise on a point of order, Madam Speaker. I would point out that under standing order 144 (a) questions cannot ask for an expression of opinion. The question clearly seeks an expression of opinion and interpretation and as such is out of order.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! I think that the honourable member was asking for the facts, not an opinion.

Mr Donald Cameron —Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. You placed an interpretation of what you thought, and that is not quite how it should be. It is not your construction of a question to be asked that is relevant.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Hindmarsh is asking for facts. He has asked the Prime Minister to give him information as to how the policy has been received. I find it quite in order.

Mr HAWKE —I can understand the concern of honourable members opposite. I remind the House and the honourable member for Hindmarsh, who has a continuing interest in the area of housing, that the Government's recently announced housing package continues the strong support of the Government for public housing, it increases assistance for first home buyers, it maintains the 13.5 per cent ceiling for pre-April 1986 loans, and it changes savings banks legislation regulations, as the honourable member will recall, to release up to an additional $900m for home lending. I am pleased to say that through the first home owners scheme nearly 250,000 people will have been assisted in buying their first homes by June of this year. I also remind the honourable gentleman that under this Gov- ernment, the funds available for public housing have been increased by about 42 per cent. I can advise the honourable member that I have received a letter very recently from the Housing Industry Association.

Mr Hollis —Read it.

Mr HAWKE —Very well. This is a letter written to me by the National Executive Director of the Housing Industry Association, National Office. It is addressed to me as Prime Minister and it states:

Dear Mr Hawke,

On behalf of the National Board of Directors of Housing Industry Association we should like to convey our appreciation to your Government in once again affirming its very high priority for housing.

It goes on:

Since its election in March 1983, your Government has established a special role for housing within the economy and broader community. Your commitment to housing is particularly significant at this time in light of the many pressures on the Government to scrutinise all areas of public sector spending.

Not only will the new housing assistance package help to revitalise housing prospects, but of no less importance it will enable the States to alleviate housing-related poverty within our country.

No doubt the honourable member will be pleased to know that the letter concludes with this paragraph:

The Housing Industry Association and its 16,000 members owe you and your Government a debt of gratitude.