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Wednesday, 24 November 1971
Page: 3618


Mr SCHOLES (Corio) - Unfortunately the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) has chosen, I think because of a weak case, to attack Opposition members for not discussing in any great detail the position for terminating building societies. No honourable member on the Opposition side has objected to the proposition of 30 per cent of the contribution going to the Home Builders Account. The honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) in a point of order raised the fact that the detailed operations of the Home Builders Account are subject to

State legislation and that there are no proposals in the Commonwealth legislation to alter that situation.

The position of terminating building societies is not good because of the extreme limitations which are placed on the level of loans and because of the lack of availability of funds, except through the Home Builders Account. I am fully aware of this. I am the chairman of 3 funds and 1 know that the number of homes which can be financed on the loans which are available diminishes on each occasion on which moneys are made available. Therefore, unless substantially increased amounts of money are made available the role of terminating building societies will diminish materially because home building costs are increasing at a much faster rate than the rate at which funds are being made available. This is a serious point, but it is one which would obviously lend itself to a debate in this place because of the very facts which were raised by the honourable member tor Bennelong.

The legislation covering this subject is substantially State legislation. The Commonwealth insists on an allocation of 30 per cent to the States. I think it may well be, if the Commonwealth genuinely believes that this type of operation should be continued and expanded, that as a consequence of its grants it may have to lay down conditions for their application which tit in with Commonwealth Government policy, if there is such a policy, with regard to the Home Builders Account. At the moment the money is handed over and it becomes the sole responsibility of the States. Because the Commonwealth is so lacking in concern about the operation and future of these funds, I would suggest to the Minister that he should cease criticising other people, lt is quite obvious that the Commonwealth has no interest at all in the matter but that it only requires the money to be made available. It does not require that adequate loans be made available to enable homes to be built. It does not require the funds which are made available to be utilised in any specific way. I raised one point earlier which could be covered only by this means, that is. the renovation or purchase of houses. Under existing conditions - under the Victorian legislation anyhow - only relatively new homes can be purchased under the Home Builders Account where in many cases a better deal could be obtained by the purchasers if the money were made available for the purchase of existing homes.

Unfortunately the Minister decided, for purely political reasons, that he would fly a kite, just as the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) flew a kite in the night on abortion reform, which has only ever been enacted in Australia by Liberal governments and which is the official policy of the Australian Country Party. Apparently what Liberal governments do not do is the responsibility of the Opposition. It may be a good way of covering one's own sins. But I would suggest to the Minister that before he stands up and accuses the Australian Labor Party of a lack of concern he should look exactly at what the Government is doing. It is allocating a sum of money and nothing else.

Bill agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.







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