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Wednesday, 3 December 1986
Page: 3226

Senator GRIMES (Minister for Community Services)(10.32) —I thank honourable senators for their contributions and for their support for the legislation. I will make only a couple of points in the light of some of the remarks made by Senator Crichton-Browne. I remind honourable senators that in 1982-83 under the previous Government housing commencements in this country were 105,000; in 1983-84 they were 137,000; in 1984-85 they were 153,000; in 1985-86 they were 163,000; and in 1986-87 they will be 120,000.

Senator Crichton-Browne —Yes, that is right. In other words, they dropped 30,000.

Senator GRIMES —They are still 15,000 more than they were in 1982-83 when the previous Government went out of power.

Senator Crichton-Browne —That is right. There are 16 million people in Australia now. In those days there were 13 million, for goodness sake. We have a greater population.

Senator GRIMES —That is a great example. Senator Crichton-Browne has informed us that since 1982 we have had an increase in population of three million people. That is absolutely typical of the sort of nonsense that he has been saying. Of course, no one is happy with the present interest rate situation. We would prefer interest rates to be much lower and we are working towards that. But the 2 April package in fact did increase the availability of housing finance for all home owners. I thought at the time that people such as Senator Crichton-Browne agreed with what was done. Without the 2 April package there would be very few funds available for bank lending for housing. Since the introduction of that package cocktailing of housing finance has disappeared. This has enabled prospective home buyers to borrow from one source and at one interest rate.

The total repayments under these new arrangements are significantly less than with a cocktail loan. For instance, $60,000 borrowed over 25 years at 15.5 per cent would cost about $782 a month. A cocktail loan made up of $40,000 at 13.5 per cent over 25 years and a $20,000 personal loan at 18 per cent over 10 years would cost $816 per month. I remind honourable senators that prior to 2 April funds at that lower interest rate were so limited and rationed that obviously the decision of 2 April had to be made. It has resulted in a much greater availability of funds. Again, I remind honourable senators that the number of housing starts for each year of this Government has been and will remain consistently higher than under the previous Government. I thank honourable senators. I have no reason to delay the debate. I commend the Bill to the Senate.

Amendment negatived.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.