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Thursday, 9 November 2006
Page: 60

Senator SANDY MACDONALD (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence) (1:30 PM) —I would like to take this opportunity to briefly sum up this Defence Force (Home Loans Assistance) Amendment Bill 2006. I note that Senator Mark Bishop, the shadow minister for industry, procurement and personnel, has provided general support for this legislation and that the opposition will support it. Much of what Senator Mark Bishop said in his shadow capacity lacks a little credibility and consistency because, whilst supporting the scheme, he attacked the government. The government is simply getting on with the job of looking after our very important Defence community.

This bill seeks to extend the operation of the Defence Home Owners Scheme, from 31 December 2006 until 31 December 2007. The extension will provide the Department of Defence with the opportunity to develop a scheme that will be more contemporary to meeting the needs of Defence and ADF members. A review is to be completed in time to allow the implementation of a new scheme by the end of next year, 31 December 2007. The objectives of the review will be to develop a homeowners assistance scheme that supports ADF recruitment, retention and resettlement of ADF members, that recognises the benefits that homeownership provides to Defence and ADF members and that is cost-effective to the Commonwealth.

The home loans market has changed significantly since the introduction of the DHOS. It is, therefore, appropriate that a scheme that is more reflective of the contemporary needs of Defence and ADF members in the community is in place. Four options are undergoing detailed development: firstly, subsidy assistance not tied to a home loan; secondly, subsidy assistance tied to a single or panel of home loan providers; thirdly, deposit assistance linked to either career retention or mobility points; and, fourthly, an allowance for owner-occupiers.

This review is to be completed by the end of next year. Extension of the finishing time prescribed in the act will ensure that the eligible ADF members continue to have access to homeownership assistance and will preserve the entitlement of those members who have not accessed the scheme pending the outcome of the review. I commend the legislation to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.