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Tuesday, 21 August 1984
Page: 86

(Question No. 977)

Senator Watson asked the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, upon notice, on 15 June 1984:

(1) Does the Minister for Veterans' Affairs recognise an anomaly in the defence service home corporation loans legislation, that while loans are available for home purchase, home extensions and renovations are excluded.

(2) Will the Minister consider re-examining the issue to assist the ageing veterans sector of society to enable them to stay in their homes for a longer period.

Senator Gietzelt —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) and (2) One of the basic objectives of the repatriation system is to arrange for those who served in wartime to be suitably re-established in civilian life. In keeping with this, the primary intention of the legislation is to facilitate home ownership for those who may have suffered some disadvantage, in comparison with those who did not serve, in obtaining a home. Since the introduction of the defence service homes scheme in 1919 it has been the view of successive Governments that assistance given to those who served to acquire a home, on highly favourable terms, places them on an equal footing with other members of the community.

In accordance with this philosophy, the Defence Service Homes Act places responsibility on each borrower for the maintenance of the home and makes no general provision for further loans to finance renovations, maintenance or repairs.

It is accepted that, with advancing years and deteriorating health, many veterans may experience difficulty in maintaining a home. Hence, notwithstanding the general policy that an eligible person may receive only one loan, the Defence Service Homes Act allows a ministerial discretion to approve a second loan. The policy guidelines for the grant of a second loan allow favourable consideration of applications to assist a borrower who can no longer maintain a family home to move to a strata title unit where maintenance is the responsibility of a body corporate.

The guidelines limit the amount of the second loan to the outstanding balance of the first loan and require the lodgement of the application before the sale of the first home.