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Thursday, 1 April 1965

Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) . - I wish to reply to the remarks of the Minister. He said that the amendment, if carried, would place unnecessary restraint on the selection of the members of this Housing Loans Insurance Corporation. While it must be admitted that it would be some restraint in respect of the persons who could be selected to be members of the Corporation, we must consider whether this is a necessary restraint or not. The Corporation has the function of insuring loans. As the Minister has stated, this function necessitates the appointment to the Corporation of someone skilled in finance. But the Corporation is not being set up to insure just anything. It is a Corporation to insure, amongst other things, those types of dwellings which are referred to in clause 23 which we discussed last night. The clause reads -

The Corporation may decline to enter into a contract of insurance in respect of an insurable loan if it is not satisfied that the dwelling-house to which the loan relates has been constructed, or Will be constructed, as the case requires, in accordance with sound standards of construction or, in the case of a loan made for the purpose of altering, improving or extending a dwelling-house, or for purposes including that purpose, that the alterations improvements or extensions will be carried out in accordance with sound standards of construction.

Surely that provision, in itself, necessitates the appointment to the Corporation of someone with a knowledge of building construction. The Minister has said that if the knowledge of an architect is necessary, that knowledge can be obtained. Architects can be hired for the purpose of advising the Corporation. But when an application in documentary form is being considered, surely an architect-member trained in building construction could point out from the document any defects in the standards of the construction. It was argued last night - and I did not readily agree with the argument - that the fact that a loan for building is to be insured will have the effect of protecting the borrower because a condition of the insurance will be that the building will be of sound construction. I do not think that the provision will have that effect. But if this is desired, surely we must have a member of the Corporation who at all times will look at specifications for the purpose of saying, before insurance is granted, that a proposed construction is a sound one in accordance with clause 23. I think it is reasonable and logical that someone who is conversant with building construction should be a member of the Corporation and look after that section relating to construction for the purpose of better control and the better operation of the Corporation.

Question put -

That the words proposed to be added (Senator Bishop's amendment) be added.

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