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Wednesday, 31 May 2006
Page: 9


Mr BILLSON (Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence) (9:44 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill seeks to extend the operation of the Defence Home Owner Scheme (the scheme), which is governed by the Defence Force (Home Loans Assistance) Act 1990, from 31 December 2006 to 31 December 2007.

The scheme provides members of the ADF with a subsidy on the interest expense incurred on a home loan. The subsidy is payable on a maximum home loan value of $80,000. The assistance is tied to home loans available through the National Australia Bank.

The act specifies a finishing date of 31 December 2006.  After this date, no new entitlement certificates confirming the eligibility of ADF members to the subsidy can be issued.

The government has obtained the agreement of the National Australia Bank for the bank to continue the current arrangement until 31 December 2007.

The scheme was implemented at a time when the banks were the major home loan providers and restricts the ability of ADF members to use the subsidy assistance to access the vastly different range of home loan products available in the contemporary home loan market.

A review is now being undertaken by the Department of Defence to establish a home ownership assistance scheme that is more contemporary to meet the needs of both Defence and ADF members. This review is to be completed in time to allow the implementation of a new scheme by 31 December 2007.

To ensure that eligible ADF members continue to have access to home ownership assistance under the current scheme, pending the outcome of the review, it is necessary to amend the finishing date currently prescribed in the act from 31 December 2006 to 31 December 2007. This amendment will also retain the sole loan provider rights of the National Australia Bank.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Gavan O’Connor) adjourned.