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Thursday, 26 November 1959

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member for East Sydney will remain silent.

Mr OSBORNE - I have never attempted to disguise this. On the other hand, I have made the most strenuous efforts to bring this state of affairs to an end. It will end in June, 1961, when the housing needs of the whole base will have been completely met. Seventy-five houses are being built on the Air Force base in a three-year programme. No. 5 Airfield Construction Squadron will progressively move out, starting shortly, and will give up a number of houses to airmen posted to Darwin. The whole problem is being progressively solved.

A mischief has been done by some critics in suggesting that the sub-standard housing is official Air Force housing on the base. That is not so. It is a relic of the post-war period when airmen trying to get places for their families, as other people did in Darwin, built dwellings for themselves in Air Force sheds. They are not official houses, but the Air Force authorities had to take cognizance of the fact that people were living there and also had to deal with the problem that when one airman moved out he sometimes attempted to sell his occupancy to an incomer. To regularize the situation these occupancies were recorded and were offered to incoming airmen in accordance with a list of priorities for housing.

But if an airman does not want to have one of these dwellings he is not obliged to take it. A refusal does not affect his right to temporary housing allowance which is in effect a subsidy for rent paid for civilian accommodation off the base where proper service housing is not available. If he does not take one of these dwellings that does not affect his right to retain his position on the waiting list for a proper house on the base.

Mr Ward - When he can get it.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I direct the attention of the honorable member for East Sydney to the fact that he has already been warned, and if he interjects again I will deal with him.

Mr OSBORNE - The only alternative to recognizing this situation would have been to turn the airmen out of these dwellings, something which none of them would wish to happen.

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