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Friday, 3 December 1976


Mr NEWMAN (Bass) (Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development)

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The prime purpose of this Bill is to reconstitute the Australian Housing Corporation in accordance with the Government's announced policy and to change its name, nature and function so that its sole responsibility will be the administration of the Defence Service Homes Scheme. The Liberal and National Country Parties stated prior to the 1975 election that the activities of the Australian Housing Corporation would be critically examined. Following that examination, the Government decided that the Corporation should be abolished, a decision which was announced by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) on 2 February 1976.

When the Australian Housing Corporation Bill 1975 was debated in this Parliament, the attitude adopted by the Liberal and National Country Parties was that the Australian Housing Corporation represented an unnecessary and undesirable duplication of services already available, particularly those services provided by the various State governments. The Government has found no evidence to the contrary in its investigations. On the other hand, the Government is wholeheartedly committed to the preservation and continuation of the Defence Service Homes Scheme, which we see as a scheme of historical and social importance for a large number of Australians.

This Bill therefore provides for the establishment of a Defence Service Homes Corporation, the affairs of which will be conducted within the departmental framework by the Secretary to the Department of Veterans ' Affairs. The very recent establishment of this Department is evidence of the Government's interest in the welfare of those who have served this country in the armed Services.

Those provisions of the Australian Housing Corporation Act concerned with the powers and functions of the Corporation, other than those related to the provision of assistance under the Defence Service Homes Scheme, are repealed. The Corporation will be renamed the Defence Service Homes Corporation and continue its existance as a corporate entity solely for the purpose of administering the Defence Service Homes Act. The Australian Housing Corporation Act as amended will be renamed the Defence Service Homes Corporation Act. When the Australian Housing Corporation was established, the assets and liabilities of the Defence Service Homes Scheme were taken over by the Corporation and new financial arrangements were developed to facilitate the provision of benefits at that time under the proposed Scheme. The staff administering the Scheme, who had always been members of the Public Service, were lent to the Corporation and employed by it outside of the Public Service Act under the provisions of the Australian Housing Corporation

Act. To ensure that there is no break in continuity in the administration of the Defence Service Homes Scheme, the finance and staffing provisions contained in the Australian Housing Corporation Act will be retained for the time being and the present staff will continue in employment under the new Corporation.

I wish to take the opportunity to indicate the Government's appreaation of the contribution made by the members of the Board of the Australian Housing Corporation during their tenure of office, under the leadership of their distinguished Chairman, Mr A. M. Ramsay, C.B.E. These members have given of their time and have individually and collectively made their contribution towards the operation of the Corporation in its short life. Their contribution is appreciated by the Government. Mr Deputy Speaker, I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Willis) adjourned.







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