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Thursday, 10 March 1966

Mr McMAHON (LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - The figure that has just been cited by the honorable member is, I am sure, accurate. There has been a fall in the amount of money taken up by the States out of the total amount of Commonwealth loan housing finance. The amount approved under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement was of the order of $100 million for the year, and the Commonwealth expects that the full amount will be taken up during the course of the financial year. In fact, the Commonwealth is sure that it will be taken up. The amount of actual drawings on the fund is not the criterion. The criterion is the number of commencements, and finance available can fall back a little. There can be what is called delay in the actual appropriation of funds. However, much more importantly, we have been looking with great caution and care at the figures of commencements and approvals in the public sector. I am glad that the honorable member has raised this. It gives me the opportunity to mention that they have fallen substantially over the course of the last four months. The Prime Minister said in his statement to the House and to the nation last Tuesday evening that we were cautiously watching the housing position.

I have asked the Treasury to give me a full report on how we can give a quick and certain stimulus to the housing field during the next four months. The report is being prepared for me and I hope, as the Prime Minister hopes, that I will be able to make a definitive statement to the House next week.

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