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Thursday, 29 April 1965

Senator KENNELLY (Victoria) . - What amazes me about this procedure is that the prime mover in this matter is not in the chamber.

Senator Marriott - The honorable senator has been absent from Parliament himself at times.

Senator KENNELLY - If Senator Marriott will wait a moment and hear me out he might be sorry he interjected in that vein. I should have thought that courtesy at least would have demanded that the Government hold this matter until Senator Wright was present. I know that at times honorable senators have to be out of the chamber. Last night Senator Wright indicated to me that he had to leave Canberra although he did not elaborate on the reasons for doing so. We all take an interest in what Senator Wright says and we would have been particularly interested in his ideas on the most important subject we discussed recently. I refer to the economic position in which Australia finds itself. Without expressing any reasons, he told me that unfortunately he was leaving.

As I have said, he played a major part in this matter and one would have thought that courtesy would demand that it be held over until he was present. When all is said and done I do not think we will get so much money or see so many houses begun or finished between now and next Tuesday. No doubt Senator Wright will be present on Tuesday and a postponement of this discussion would have given him the opportunity to say whether he desired to persist with the arguments he took so long to advance in the last week of the sittings before Easter, whether possibly he is doing on this occasion what he has done on so many previous occasions. I do not know, but since I do not know, I believe there is a responsibility upon him to tell us where he stands.

The situation would be different if we were holding up a building programme, because we all know that while a great many houses have been built, a great many are needed. Comparisons with past home building achievements are difficult because of the growth of population and other factors but I do not think anyone can say with truth that governments, both Federal and State, are not attempting to grapple with this problem. What concerns me is that the matter before the Committee has to be rushed. Why? Is there no courtesy left in political life? At least there should be some decency.

Senator Sir William Spooner - I always thought the honorable senator's philosophy was that it is the numbers that count.

Senator KENNELLY - I admit that. With great respect to Senator Sir William Spooner who for reasons best known to himself now sits in the back row of the chamber, I say that with or without the numbers, there should be some decency left in politics. We should retain some courtesy and decency if we want to impress the people outside who elected us and not rush a matter like this through when the prime mover in it is not present.

Senator Wrightis not in the chamber and he might not be in the precincts of the Parliament. One wonders about this. Let us have the whole truth. Let us nol hide it. Senator Wright, who was the prime mover in this matter, advanced certain arguments. Let us hope he believes today what he said a few short days ago. I admit that in the past he has changed his mind pretty rapidly but I do not know whether he has changed it on this occasion and we will not know until a vote is taken. If he has changed his mind, he has a duty to the people he represents and to the Senate to tell us why.

Let us consider the arguments that have been submitted by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge). He reminded the Committee that when this Bill was before the Committee on 31st March, Senator Wright moved that the definition of " approved lender " be left out of Clause 5. The Leader of the Government said that if this were done, it would cause long delays. I have been a student of politics for some years - though some would say I have not been a good student. Going back a few years, I remember that in 1930 the Attorney-General of the day would bring in a regulation applying to waterside workers on the Tuesday. The Senate would object to it on the same day and then the

Government would bring one in on Thursday. To say that similar action would affect in some way the lending of money in. the terms of this Bill will not hold water. It cannot be supported by logic. As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has said in his gentle but logical way: How are wc ever going to find out who are the approved lenders apart from the Government's friends the banks and the insurance companies? I think 1 am in order in reading from "Hansard" of this sessional period what Senator Wright said. Tt shows how earnest he was on 31st March. I leave it to him to speak for himself and to tell us how earnest he is on 29th April. That is his concern. Speaking to clause 4 of the Bill, Senator Wright said -

I wish to refer to a publication entitled " Studies in the Australian Capital Market". I am indebted to Senator Prowse for drawing my attention to it. It was edited by R. R. Hirst and R. H. Wallace of the University of Adelaide, and was published in 1964. lt shows that in 1962 the building societies invested £289 million in housing finance; savings banks £239 million; major trading banks invested £95 million; and life assurance offices invested £154 million. .

Then Senator Wright talks about private mortgages arranged through companies mortgage brokers, or estate agents-

Senator Henty - Solicitors?

Senator KENNELLY - Yes, there is a number of them. He says that the number concerned in 1962 is not expressly stated. He quotes this publication as referring to £300 million in relation to private mortgages. It is true, as the Minister said, that the Minister for Housing or the Chairman of this Corporation can bring these companies into the scheme and get money out of them. But he bases this matter on the delay that has occurred. I do not think he is entitled to tell this House something that is incorrect. There will be no delay which will in any way affect the operation of this Bill. There will be no delay at all. I do not want the Minister to give me quarter at any time. But I ask him: Should he not show one of his colleagues some respect so that his colleague can restate in this chamber the case that he put up on 31st March or tell the Australian people and, more particularly, those of his own State, whether there is any change of view? I hope the other senators who supported Senator Wright on that occasion will, in his absence, uphold the case he put at that time.

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