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Thursday, 17 March 1966

Mr MINOGUE (West Sydney) . - I wish to speak about housing problems, particularly as they affect the city of Sydney where the housing situation is desperate. Since the Liberal Government took over in New South Wales we have heard not one word on the subject of housing from the honorable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer). The honorable member is a friend of mine. At one time we were both members of the Sydney County Council. During that period he had the idea of buying a coal mine. He took me with him to inspect the mine that we were going to purchase. We got our lanterns and went down to have a look at the mine. On the way back we lost our lanterns and we both could have been heard praying to get out of the mine. When we got to the surface he said: "I will never say a word against the miners again ". Instead of being black from the coal we were as white as snow because we thought we were going to lose our lives. That was the end of the coalmining venture.

Then as an estate agent the honorable member started telling us how to do this and that. He told us that we should put two or three girls into each room in the Greenway housing project of the New South Wales Housing Commission. He said that no girl should have a flat or a room of her own. I understand that in his electorate alone there are hundreds of homes from which many members of the original families have moved, the result being that in some homes that have seven or eight rooms only two persons are living. I am not suggesting that we should pack people into rooms or homes belonging to other people, but I do direct attention to the fact that the honorable member for Bennelong frequently told us over a period of 10 years of the shortcomings of the Labour Government in New South Wales in the housing field, although that Government built more homes than the New South Wales Liberal Government and Sir John Cramer himself will build in the next hundred years at the rate they are going.

The New South Wales Government is allowing all sorts of tricks. Representatives of oil companies, for instance, buy up groups of houses, remove the tenants and then demolish the houses. I know of one case in which an oil company bought ten houses in Glebe Road. In many of those old houses there were four or five pensioners each paying £2 or £2 10s. a week for a room. When I visited this place in response to a request from one of the tenants I asked what agreement had been entered into. I was told that a man had arrived and said to one of them: " You are the head tenant. We will give $1,000 for the key". The person to whom the off;r was made said: "What is going to happen to the people left behind in the houses? They have been paying me rent and they have been with me for five, ten or fifteen years". The oil company representative said: " Never mind about them, we will put a bulldozer through them". That is the situation in New South Wales today under a Liberal Government.

I had the good fortune to visit New Zealand three weeks ago. I believe that instead of condemning things that are done in New Zealand our housing authorities should go to that country and have a look around. That is a place where the Government is really acting with sincerity in an effort to give not only the young people but also the older people some justice. In New Zealand child endowment is paid at the rate of 15s. per child, no matter how many there are in the family. A family with 20 children would receive 20 times 15s. per week. In New Zealand if a man and his wife have two children - whether twins or born separately - they receive £1,000 from the Government. For one child they receive £500. The money is either paid into the bank or to their solicitor and they can approach a bank and borrow £2,800 in addition to that £1,000.

Before proceeding, let me explain that the man with two children who receives this £1,000 does not also receive child endowment, so that over a period the cost to the Government is no greater. If a third child arrives the parents receive for it endowment of 15s. per week. Some of the cases I have been told about would seem to indicate that if, for some reason, after the birth of two children the parents are rot fully entitled to the £1,000 grant, the arrival of the third child often makes them eligible for it. I understand that the rale of interest on housing finance in New Zealand is about 4 per cent., and the legal eagles here can easily ascertain exactly what the rate is. Acres and acres of land are set aside for home building and young people, working at weekends, can build themselves decent homes at low cost.

Coming now to the prices of commodities, butter in New Zealand costs 2s. per lb. in most stores and at Coles stores it can be obtained for ls. 10 3/4 d per lb. Of course butter is subsidised there. In New Zealand milk is delivered for 4id. a pint and a 2 lb. loaf of bread is delivered for ls. Commodity prices, apart from that, are something in keeping with those in New South Wales. The New Zealand Government is catering, in the first place, for a man and his wife who want to rear a family, and secondly, for the children. Children well fed with milk, bread and butter at reasonable prices seem to get on all right.

Mr Howson - What about potatoes?

Mr MINOGUE - I think the price varies the same as anywhere else, according to supply and demand. Over there I met the mayor of a city. He could be taken for a brother of the honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Jack), being of the same build and having the same country of origin. He showed me the homes being built for aged people and others there. He has never been anything but a Labour man and is a member of an Independent council at present. This all goes to show that if you are honest and do away with greed for interest and high profits something can be done to house the people. I read in this morning's Press that an extra $15 million is to be made available by the Commonwealth for housing. That is what always happens just before an election, but in the next two years after an election if you want housing finance you have to go and look for it. I hope and trust that this Government will do something in this respect.

I turn now to aged persons' homes. I understand that all credit should go to Dame Pattie Menzies for the scheme under which there was a subsidy of £1 for £1 in respect of aged persons' homes. We wanted to make the subsidy £2 for £1, but the Liberal Party would not hear of that for some time. However, to the credit of whoever was responsible, a subsidy of £2 for £1 is now an established fact. In my electorate in Sydney there are over 5,000 pensioners. Some of them, as I explained earlier, have* been thrown out of their homes and have nowhere to go. There is no home for aged ladies in the vicinity of the City of Sydney. There is a home for men built by the Sydney County Council in Hereford Street, Glebe, in which 60 men are well provided for. I appeal to this Government, if land can be obtained from local government or other bodies, to do something about this matter. I think it is a fair proposition to ask the Government to lend the necessary money. One thing is that it will not give money to councils or local government bodies in any shape or form, or to State Governments, for this purpose.

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