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Tuesday, 30 November 1971
Page: 3821


Mr BARNARD (Bass) - It is seldom that one hears an argument advanced with less logic than that which has been put by the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess). I think it is obvious that the acceptance of our amendment to increase the loan would require a larger allocation. Nobody denies this. It would require a larger allocation of funds. If the honourable member for La Trobe looks very carefully at the allocations for war service homes over the years he will find that they have fluctuated according to the dictates of this Government. It has been reduced, it has been put back up again, then it has gone down again. There is no reason why the amount of $60m - which is the amount which this Government is making available as a result of the appropriation legislation introduced this year - should be the final sum to be made available to the War Service Homes Division. One has to look at this in relation to the other factors that are involved in the Division.

I thought the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) put this matter very concisely and very carefully and very clearly. If one followed the argument of the honourable member for La Trobe to its logical conclusion one could go on and argue that you may have X number of ex-servicemen receiving war service home loans but you must not increase the amount that could be made available to them because an increase in the loan would put them back into the position that ex-servicemen were in between 1946 and 1949. A few minutes ago the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) said, by way of interjection, that he was here between 1946 and 1949 and that he remembered the situation during that period. However, he should be reminded, just as the honourable member for La Trobe needs to be reminded, that between 1946 and 1949 the maximum advance was sufficient to be able to purchase a home under the war service homes legislation. It has always been a basic requirement of this Division that 10 per cent of the cost of the home was necessary as a deposit, even if the maximum advance exceeded the cost of the home. However, what is the situation today under this Government? The real test is whether the maximum advance is sufficient to allow those who qualify under the Act to be able to gain assistance or to purchase a home. The plain fact is that the great majority of them cannot do so today. I thought that the honourable member for Reid made this perfectly clear.

For example, in New South Wales - I refer to the report of the Director of the War Service Homes Division - in 1951-52, the average cost of a dwelling and land was $5,050 and the maximum loan was then $5,500. I hope that the honourable member for La Trobe will remember these figures. In other words, the average cost of a dwelling and land was less than the maximum loan that was then available. This meant that a person who was entitled to a war service home loan did not have to go to an outside source for finance to supplement the amount made available by the War Service Homes Division. From the annual report of the Director of the War Service Homes Division, it will be seen that in 1970-71 the average cost of a house and land in New South Wales was $16,281. This means that the average cost of a house and land in New South Wales has more than trebled in 20 years. If the provisions of this Bill, are passed, the maximum loan will have been increased by only 64 per cent over the same period. If the relationship which applied in 1951-52 had been maintained, the maximum loan today would be $17,732 and not $9,000 as is proposed in this Bill. Where then is the logic in the argument of the honourable member for La Trobe and those who support him in opposition to this amendment? Of course, there is no question about it. One would not expect the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) to be sympathetic in these matters. I do not believe that he really understands them. However, surely Government supporters can appreciate the significance of the fact that the statistics made available by the Director of the War Service Homes Division show that in one State alone the average cost of a house and land is almost $7,000 in excess of what will be the maximum loan. How can one accept this kind of situation?

As I have already pointed out to the Committee, it can be shown that there has been a great deterioration in the amount that was made available during the period of the last Labor government. The maximum loan which then applied under the terms of the War Service Homes Act exceeded the average cost of a dwelling and land. The Opposition has suggested that the maximum loan should be increased to $15,000 which is still $2,000 below the figure that it should be if the ratio between what was made available before this Government came to office in 1949 and the average cost of a dwelling and land had been maintained. I do not want to stress the fact that this is merely the policy of the Party - that probably does not have a great deal to do with it- but what is important is whether the maximum advance is sufficient for those who desire to purchase a home through the War Service Homes Division. The plain fact is that it is not. lt is quite unreasonable for the honourable member for La Trobe to argue that if the maximum advance is increased, the amount that will be available for those who require loans under the war service homes legislation will decrease. If this is to be the position, the answer is obvious. The Government must increase the overall appropriation. Since the honourable member for La Trobe has been asking questions, perhaps he might be able to provide an answer as to why the Government is not prepared to increase the appropriation. Surely if it is good enough for him to argue as he did a few moments ago, it is reasonable to expect him to answer this question. This Government has a responsibility under the terms of the legislation to provide assistance to those who require and who are eligible for assistance from the War Service Homes Division. I have already indicated to the Committee how the cost of a house and land has increased in this country during this Government's period in office. It is quite reasonable for the Opposition to request that the maximum loan be increased to $15,000.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! The honourable member's time has expired.







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