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Wednesday, 23 November 1927

Senator REID (Queensland) -. -I am glad that this measure has been introduced, notwithstanding that all the States have done well in providing homes for their people. The Government's scheme provides one of the safest investments for the funds of the Commonwealth Savings Bank that could be offered. The provision of this money will enable large numbers of our people to obtain their own homes, and thus to have a stake in the country. In launching this scheme, the Government is assisting that class of the community which is greatly in need of assistance. Whatever our political views, we all agree that a man who owns his own home is a better citizen, and has a saner outlook on life than otherwise would be the case. While I have no desire to condemn the man who carries his swag from place to place, I am of the opinion that he has not that same sense of responsibility that is characteristic of the man who owns his own home. Seeing that this bill will make for a happier and more contented people, it is a step in the right -direction. I am not like Senator Kingsmill, who becomes nervous at the mere mention of war service homes.

Senator Needham - He hasreason to be nervous.

Senator REID - I admit that many blunders were made in connexion with the war service homes, but, despite those blunders, those homes as such have been a great success. The latest returns available show that only about 11/2 per cent, of those who obtained war service homes are behind with their payments.

Senator Needham - The blunders made were blunders of administration.

Senator REID - That is so. The war service homes scheme has been an extraordinary success, seeing that only 11/2 per cent, of those who have built under it are behind in their payments. Quite apart from the financial aspect, the Government has reaped a reward from the number of contented people in has provided with homes.

Senator Foll - That is quite right.

Senator REID - There is one man in the Senate now who has been made contented as a result of the operations of this department. The contentment is a good return to the Government for what it has spent. I know that some people take exception to the Federal Government entering into what they say is a purely State matter, but at the present time the States are not in the position to undertake this work. Hitherto they have not taken it up, and have limited themselves to a class of home costing between £700 and £800. The present measure provides for homes costing up to £1,800. I think the proposal of the Government to advance up to 90 per cent, of the value of the house is a very generous one, and judging from our experience with the war service homes, I think the Government is justified in making this advance. It is a very safe investment for the savings bank's funds. Most of the money in the savings bank is deposited by the workers, and I do not think that there could be a better investment for the people's savings than building homes for the people themselves. I think, however, that if the deposits in the Commonwealth Savings Bank are to be used for home building, it is only right that the depositors should receive the same rate of interest as is paid by the State savings banks. I do not think that the granting of such an increased rate of interest would interfere in any way with the price of the homes under this scheme.

The members of the Public Works Committee to which 1 belong have inspected workmen's dwellings in all the States of the Commonwealth. The State which deserves most credit for its efforts, and in which the best results have been obtained, both from the point of view of the Government and of the home purchasers, is South Australia. I can discuss the subject, quite impartially. I know something about building, having been brought up in that trade myself, and I say that if the federal scheme is carried out as satisfactorily as that in South Australia, we shall have no reason to complain. There is no better class of building to be had in Australia for the same money than are those erected under the South Australian scheme. The finish of the homes, and the method of construction, provide the best value for the money paid of any working-class homes in Australia. We also visited some of the homes in and about Sydney, and while in the early days some mistakes were made, the homes built during the last few years have been a credit to the department. The same thing applies to my own State. At first mistakes were made in all the States, but now, as the result of greater experience and more careful inspection, better value is being provided for the people who purchase the houses. There is little danger now that money will be wasted in the construction of these homes. I am very glad that this scheme will apply to the Federal Capital. Territory. As a. committee, we inspected many of the homes erected here, and there is no doubt that, for the money paid, there is less value provided in the Canberra homes than anywhere else in Australia. In. some cases the homes here cost double as much as they would in South Australia. In that State it is possible to get a splendid home built for a little over £700. For the same class of house in Canberra, but one which is not so well finished nor so convenient, the commission is asking £1,400 or £1,500, I am. told that the design of these houses was submitted to the Architects' Association in Sydney, and received the approval of that body. Being merely a layman, I cannot speak with authority on such subjects, but at the same time, I do not think very much of their plans. If

Canberra is to attract more people, it is necessary that facilities should be provided for building cheap homes. Even from a rent point of view,houses in the Territory are costing a great deal too much. I hope that whatever authority is appointed in Canberra to act under this scheme will be able to build homes for the people at satisfactory prices.

Senator Duncan - Will the honorable senator tell us whether theseadvances are to be made on leasehold land, the only kind obtainable in Canberra?

Senator REID - I have no information on that point, but that system of land tenure exists in other parts of Australia-. The cost of some of the homes already erected in this Territory is a very heavy burden for the purchaser to carry, and by the time that he has cleared off his indebtedness, he will have arrived at an age when he must retire from the service. Some effort should be made at once to reduce the cost of building in Canberra. Before the Government makes this money available for building in the Federal Capital Territory, it "should make a study of what is being done in the States, and discover if possible, a means for getting better value for the money spent-

Senator McLachlan - We are rather isolated here.

Senator REID - I admit the isolation, but still it is no greater than that of many districts in which the States have built homes at prices greatly below those prevailing here. Canberra is, growing continuously, and eventually, it is hoped, will have a large population. I cannot see why it should be at such a disadvantage in the building of homes. I am very pleased to support this housing scheme because I think it will help to promote a contented population.

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