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Tuesday, 16 October 1956


Mr HAMILTON (Canning) .- The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. "Whitlam) has treated us to a mass of figures. I am not prepared to accept many of them.


Mr Duthie - They were brutally accurate.


Mr HAMILTON - The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) says that the figures given by the honorable member for Werriwa were brutally accurate. The bill under discussion shows that the intention is to provide £32,150,000 for housing commission purposes, yet the honorable member for Werriwa, by twisting the figures, would have not only this House, but also people listening to him over the air, believe that only £24,500,000 is being made available by this Government to housing commissions. It does not matter where this money being provided for housing goes, the fact remains that the money is being made available for housing in the States. Whether or not the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States provides that a certain amount shall go to co-operative building societies or any other societies, the money is being made available for housing under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. It was only when an interjection was hurled at the honorable member for Werriwa that he did admit that a certain amount would go to co-operative building societies under the bill, yet he tried to give the impression, and in this he was supported by the honorable member for Wilmot, that the Government is making available only £24,500,000.


Mr Duthie - I did not say that.


Mr HAMILTON - You said that the figures given by the honorable member for Werriwa were brutally accurate.


Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member will address the Chair. There are too many interjections.


Mr HAMILTON - The honorable member for Werriwa described the speeches of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) and the honorable member for Lilley (Mr.

Wight) as unrealistic and irresponsible. If he had been in the House for the whole of their speeches he would have realized that, to the contrary, those honorable gentlemen were most realistic and responsible in their approach to this matter. The honorable member went on to refer to the Ministers and their " satellites ". I do not know whom he describes as " satellites " unless it is some members of the Labour party - though which Labour party I would not know.


Mr Cairns - He was talking about you!


Mr HAMILTON - The cap would probably fit the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) quite comfortably. I remind honorable members that the Labour Minister for Housing in Queensland, and the Labour Minister for Housing in Western Australia have said that the housing problem in their States has been solved.

The honorable member for Werriwa then referred to war service homes. It is rather surprising to hear a member of the Labour party accusing this Government of not doing a really good job in that field. Opposition members know full well that this Government has, since 1949, built more war service homes than were built in the whole of the division's previous history. If Opposition members want more war service homes to be built, I remind them that the money is provided out of revenue. Would they support increased taxation for this purpose? That is the real test of their sincerity.

Labour's whole case rests on the amount of money provided for housing. No other issue is raised by Labour speakers. I hope that the State governments will not continue to act as they have in past years. This Government has met most of their requests. It has completely vacated the loan field. As the honorable member for Yarra knows full well, the States themselves decide how much of the approved loan programme will be devoted to housing. After the Australian Loan Council meets, in this very chamber, and agrees on a loan programme, for the year, the States decide how much shall be devoted to housing. That proportion is then divided among the States. Therefore, Opposition supporters should look to their own Labour State Premiers for an explanation of the amounts that they have agreed upon in this and previous years.

That also answers the claim by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) that the amount authorized under this bill is completely inadequate.

I understand that in New South Wales, especially, no matter how much money is available, if one is not receiving £17 a week or more, it is most difficult even to enter a ballot fox a housing commission home.


Mr Ian Allan - That is so.


Mr HAMILTON - The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) confirms what I have said. What sort of a Labour party would, whilst permitting that state of affairs, repeatedly charge this Government with not making sufficient money available for home building? 1 do not hear many interjections from the Opposition when this is pointed out to them. As every one knows, the basic wage is £13 a week, so, apparently, any one receiving the basic wage is not in the hunt to enter a ballot for a New South Wales housing commission home.

Many of the problems associated with housing are created by State housing Ministers themselves. I remind honorable members that in Queensland and Western Australia - both Labour States - the respective Ministers have said that they have solved the housing problem. This has apparently been possible during the regime of a Liberal party-Australian Country party government in Canberra. The Western Australian Minister for Housing refused to allow timber to be exported to the other States or. for that matter, anywhere else, lt had all to be made available to the State Housing Commission. For a time, the same embargo applied to bricks. The Commonwealth was refused bricks that it needed to build post offices, drill halls and other buildings. To-day Western Australia has caught up with its housing problem. Sawmills, including State saw-mills, are stacking timber and cannot sell it. There is unemployment. Under the embargo, the millers were not allowed to send token shipments of timber even to South Australia, and now they have lost their markets. The Western Australian Government has come to this Government begging for money with which to solve its unemployment problem.

Time and time again we are told by Labour supporters that the working man, or the man on the lowest rung of the ladder, cannot buy a home because of the high prices. To-night the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) said that one of the difficulties facing a worker was the price that he had to pay for his home. I ask Opposition supporters to tell me of a contributing factor to the high costs.


Mr E JAMES HARRISON (BLAXLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) - MenziesFadden inflation!


Mr HAMILTON - Long before "' Menzies-Fadden inflation " as the honorable member calls it, a leader of the Labour party said that prices had risen by 9 per cent. 1 recall also that the trade unions of this Commonwealth advocated that bricklayers, for instance, should lay no more than 300 bricks a day.


Mr E JAMES HARRISON (BLAXLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) - They had a special agreement with the employers.


Mr HAMILTON - The honorable member says that, because the employers agreed, the bricklayers were advised to lay only 300 bricks a day. But who needs these homes - the employers? No, they are needed by the great mass of the people on the lower rungs of the ladder, but Labour, by advising the unions to go slow, makes the worker pay through the nose. He has to pay at least three times as much as formerly for the brickwork of his home. Years ago, without any bullocking - a word I detest - a bricklayer was expected to lay 800 or 900 bricks in a day. If he could not do so, he did not get a job. But now the Labour party, through its various organizations, advises bricklayers not to lay more than 300 bricks in a day, for fear that the employers will benefit. I hear honorable members opposite yelping now. In the long run, their actions penalize the men whom they say they are out to help. I could never see the validity of their reasoning. The honorable member for Batman spoke the truth to-night when he said that one of the greatest obstacles to the purchase of houses by workers is the cost of houses. The biggest component in the cost of a house is not the interest charge. There is a far greater component, which members of the Labour party do not want to recognize. That is the position in respect of brick homes.

I am reminded by the honorable member for Gwydir that a man must be in receipt of at least £17 a Week before the Housing Commission of New South Wales will admit him to a ballot for an asbestos house with an iron roof, without a verandah. Before a man can be admitted to such a ballot, he must be able to pay £4 a week in rent. The Labour party and its various organizations think that, by their tactics, they are beating the employers, but, in fact, they are doing harm to their supporters. Because of their tactics, many working men will never be able to purchase their own homes, and will have to be satisfied with homes rented from a State government.

What will be the position in a comparatively short time? Personally, I do not like the present agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. 1 should prefer a scheme under which people could borrow money direct from this Government - a scheme similar to the war service homes scheme. Under the present scheme, before many more years have passed we shall be faced with the problem that the cost of maintenance work will be so great that funds that should be used for building new houses will have to be used for maintenance purposes. That is a problem to which I suggest the Labour party should give some thought. As I have said, although I support this bill, I should prefer a scheme on the lines of the war service homes scheme, under which a man could borrow money direct from this Government and then go to it and build his own home. That is the only way in which people could be certain that they would be able to build their own homes. If the present conditions in New South Wales and other States run by Labour governments continue to apply, men on the lower rungs of the income ladder will never be able to own their homes and will always be tenants of State governments.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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







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