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Tuesday, 16 October 1956

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Adermann (FISHER, QUEENSLAND) - Order! The honorable member for Lalor will keep order.

Mr CRAMER - They are not! The position of housing commissions is a very serious one, because if they are allowed to develop and extend their functions, the kind of organization they will have to set up for the purpose of the maintenance of hundreds of thousands of State houses will be immense, and the overhead costs will have to be borne either by the people who rent the houses or by the taxpayers generally.

The most economic way of assisting people with the provision of homes is to give them the right of home-ownership through the building society movement. That method is not only the most economical; it can also be used for the expenditure of the same amount of money as is expended on housing commission homes, as the Minister for National

Development (Senator Spooner) has pointed out. The reason is, of course, that people are thereby encouraged to put their savings into a house. Savings stimulate the building of houses, which will be built in greater numbers than if we simply hand money over to the States to build the houses needed by the nation. It is Labour's idea to hand money over to the States instead of encouraging home-ownership, and that is the difference between us and Labour. That difference comes to light this year in this bill.

This Government has done a splendid job. The only thing that I find wrong with the new Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement is that not sufficient money is being provided to the building society movement, because the more money given to that movement the better the prospect of increased home ownership. But the simple flooding of money in millions of pounds into the coffers of government instrumentalities for use in the construction of homes is not the answer, and never will be the answer, to our housing problem. I sincerely hope that we will reach the stage - and this bill is the first step towards it - at which we will be able to provide through the sources dealt with in the bill, and through the encouragement of savings in the new savings banks, the money needed for the building of homes so that the greatest possible number of Australians will become home-owners. That, in my opinion, is the way to build a nation. But by following Labour's policy not only would we destroy the citizenship rights of Australians as home-owners; we would destroy also the possibility of their ever getting homes in which to rear their families. The tragedy which lies at the door of Labour because of its policy is something of which members of the Labour party ought to be completely ashamed, because at the door of Labour lies, at the present time, responsibility tor the homelessness of thousands of young married couples in Australia. In the light of that one can imagine that, because of Labour's policy, Labour is also responsible for the fact that tens of thousands of Australian citizens, who in normal circumstances would have been born in this country, have not been born. The Labour party ought to be really ashamed of this, because it has introduced into this country a tragedy in which no political party could have pride.

This Government stands for, and proudly, the right of home-ownership and the encouragement of home-ownership. We do not stand for, and will oppose as much as we possibly can, the right of governments to be the home builders of the nation and the landlords of the nation, lt is not in that way that we can build a great nation. It is time that Labour gave away its socialistic ideas and restored the people's rights and the opportunity for individuality and freedom in Australia.

The damage done by Labour in the housing field was never more evident than it has been in this debate. It is time that Labour woke up and realized what it has done to the people in respect of this most important function - and it is an important function, because there is no more important function in life, no more important function of a nation, than to see that the people have happy homes and have the right to bring up families in those homes. Labour has prevented that happening in Australia, and because this Governnent has started a process designed to give the people an opportunity to own their homes, it has become the target of this stupid criticism from the socialists who, for some strange reason see in the Government's move not a desire to give the people their rights but to seek further power. If the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who is now grinning at me, speaks in this debate, honorable members and people who listen to his speech on the radio will hear the type of socialist speech expressing the type of socialist thinking to which I have referred. It is about time that Labour woke up to itself. Let me tell the Opposition that the people of Australia are not in accord with the Labour party's ideas in the matter of housing. Let honorable members opposite, instead of criticizing the Government as they have done, applaud the Government for introducing a change in the system that will allow people to own their own homes.

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