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Thursday, 23 August 1984
Page: 251


Senator BJELKE-PETERSEN —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing and Construction. Is it a fact that the changes in the first home owners scheme will adversely affect hundreds of single people who are currently negotiating for a home loan and whose eligibility for such a loan was dependent upon receipt of moneys from the scheme? Does the Government recognise that such people may be forced out of arrangements for the purchase of homes? Why was not some phasing-in period provided to protect these people who have found themselves left high and dry by the Budget decision?


Senator GRIMES —I suppose that the most successful scheme introduced by the Government in the last year has been the first home owners scheme. It has been praised by the building industry, the real estate industry, the unions and, of course, those who have benefited from it.


Senator Messner —Ask the people who are losing their homes what they think about it.


Senator GRIMES —Senator Messner, who is more interested in tax evasion, should keep out of matters he does not know about.


Senator Button —He is more interested in wine.


Senator GRIMES —Senator Messner is more interested in wine, as Senator Button said. The first matter of public importance he has put up in this place this sitting is about wine, and that reflects his priorities.

The first home owners scheme has been highly successful and highly praised. Of course, expenditure on this item has exceeded all the Government's expectations last year. It is for budgetary reasons that the first home owners scheme has had to be modified in the way referred to by Senator Bjelke-Petersen. When making modifications of this type, it is essential that the Government-it has done this as it does with all such schemes-look to those who are in most need. Those in most need are, obviously, families with young children. Those in lesser need are the single people to whom Senator Bjelke-Petersen referred. That was why the modifications were made. I do not believe, as Senator Bjelke-Petersen does, that a large number of people will lose the possibility of owning a home because of this change. The simple fact is that under the previous Government when there was no such scheme most of those people had no hope of getting into home ownership. For that reason, we believe that the changes were reasonable. They had to be made for budgetary reasons, but it is a successful scheme. To criticise it in this way can only be described as nitpicking.