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Thursday, 11 October 1973
Page: 2046


Mr MCVEIGH (Darling Downs) - The honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Willis), who has just resumed his seat, made a few remarks about 'The Country Hour'. I assure him that judged on the contribution he made, while he certainly might aim to get on that program, he would never make it. I say that advisedly because in furtherance of the points made by my colleague the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King), I would remind you, Mr Speaker, that in the other House the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) had to bow to the pressures and the honesty of the Australian Country Party and accept an amendment which reduced the meat export levy from 1.6c a lb to lc a lb. That is why I say that, though the honourable member for Gellibrand might speak disparagingly of 'The Country Hour* program, that program is far too successful to have him on it.

I want to draw the attention of the House to decisions made by the Government recently about interest charges. Two areas are causing discrimination and are departures from established practice and desirable aims. It is not my intention to prime the machinery of the Government's dislike of valid opposition and criticism but to request it to give further consideration to the correction of anomalies. I draw particular attention to the rate of interest on deposits with savings banks. They are: Up to $4,000, 3i per cent; $4,000 and over, 6 per cent; and on investment accounts which are subject to notice of withdrawal, 7 per cent. These rates differentiate between the rich and the poor and one cannot but recognise that the remarks of the Government supporters in this House are mere platitudes and repetition of meaningless words. We hear them quite often stating that they represent the less affluent members of society; but like so many of their predecessors they have grown apart from their grass roots representation. I cannot understand why a Labor government has accepted the recommendations of the Reserve Bank. I am disturbed that the Treasurer (Mr Crean) did not at the time take the initiative which is available to him under the Act to refuse concurrence with these decisions. Why did he concur?

It appears to me that the small investor, the pensioner, the widower or the widow with a large family and the youth who is just starting on the long journey through life should have had a much higher interest rate applied to their deposits which, because they are usually under $4,000, attract the very lowest rate of 3J per cent. The Country Party will not accept that only the wealthy in society matter. We want to look after the old, the young and the poor. We maintain that this arbitrary decision of this Government is discrimination of the highest order. I find it most difficult to accept that the money held in trust by a savings bank for a pensioner or a small investor is not entitled to earn the same interest as the same amount of money which forms part of a very large investment of someone else. Why has the Government departed from its oft-quoted concept of giving help and consideration where the need is greatest? I appeal therefore to the Treasurer to alter the rates so that there shall be no disadvantage to the small investor. Governments, we submit, must give very special attention to these people, for they do not have the strength or the organisatinn to defend themselves. They are our very special responsibility.

The second point on which I should like to comment is the increase in housing loan rates which also was announced recently. It is significant that over the years various arrangements for housing loans with the States have been made but they have usually been on credit foncier terms over 53 years, with the Commonwealth having altered the principles in 1971. It is true that the previous Government actively encouraged housing with the percentage of home ownership in Australia being amongst the highest in the world. This was good and it encouraged a sense of belonging and a pride in. oneself and one's country. Are we now to depart from this particular emphasis and to become not a nation of home owners but rather a nation of home renters? Under direction from the Treasury the interest rates have been increased and this can have only one result, dearer housing and a lower standard of housing.

It is appropriate that I develop those statements a stage further. The limiting factor in the amount any lending authority will advance for housing is the amount of weekly repayments that the borrower can service. Generally speaking, on a $15,000 loan each one per cent upward movement in the rate of interest will involve an additional repayment of $10 a month. The simple result is with higher repayments loan sizes will be reduced accordingly because the rule of thumb of lending institutions is that the size of the loan granted is based on the gross monthly income and the amount of the monthly repayment must not exceed one-quarter of that gross income. I submit that we will find one of two things: Either an inability to take up loans because the monthly repayments are too high in comparison with monthly income, and thus the person concerned will have to rent a home - and as my Party represents the free enterprise section of society we submit that this is a most undesirable trend; or the person concerned, who may be about to be married or about to purchase a home for the first time, will have to purchase a home with a lower intrinsic value and this certainly is undesirable. It is more appropriate and better for the future of the Australian ethos if a person on his initial entry into the home ownership field can buy a home that will be suitable for him and his family for the rest of his life.

We take issue with the present Labor Government's rather deliberate attempts to encourage rental of homes rather than home ownership. We maintain that one of the greatest bulwarks of the maintenance of the Australian way of life is for each family unit to possess an individual home. We are concerned that notwithstanding the pressures of the Caucus to keep the interest on housing loans to the absolute minimum, the Reserve Bank of Australia saw fit to increase these loans by one per cent. We would have appreciated it if the Government had used the available resources to better advantage by allowing the existing home ownership rates of interest to remain. People who some years ago arranged their affairs and borrowed a certain amount of money on a monthly repayment basis are now either forced to make repayments for a longer period or to make higher monthly repayments. These increased monthly repayments might come at a stage of their lives when their families are growing up and they are faced with extra expense in settling them in life or in making higher education available to them. We of the Country Party make that protest, Mr Speaker, because we are concerned for the small investor. We are concerned at any attempt by any government, Federal or State, to give greater emphasis to a mere tenancy of homes rather than to home ownership.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! It being 11 p.m., the House stands adjourned until 2 p.m. on Monday, 15 October 1973.







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