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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 41

Mr HALE (4:57 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel. Will the minister inform the House of the role that Defence Housing Australia will play in the government’s Nation Building and Jobs Plan announced today?

Mr SNOWDON (Minister for Defence Science and Personnel) —I thank the member for Solomon for his question. He understands that there is no silver bullet, but the government’s tough decisions in response to the global recession strike a responsible balance between supporting jobs now—

Opposition member interjecting—

Mr SNOWDON —Presumably, you will support what I am about to ask you to support—that is, the building of homes, schools, roads and communities that we need for future growth. We know that the Prime Minister has announced this $42 billion nation-building and jobs package. I know that the member for Solomon would say that this is strong and decisive action to support jobs and the economy in the face of the worst global recession since the Great Depression. I also know that the member for Solomon has a large number of Defence Force personnel in his electorate, as do other members in the chamber, and I include of course the member for Herbert over there. He would know and support the view that it is important that we look after the interests of all Australia’s Defence Force personnel.

One aspect of looking after Australian Defence Force personnel is making sure we have appropriate housing and the best quality housing available. As a result, the government will provide $251.6 million to the Defence Housing Authority to construct 802 dwellings for Australian defence personnel in metropolitan and regional centres. Building will commence in April of this year and continue until mid-2011. The construction, importantly, will be in addition to the DHA’s existing plans for new construction.

I want to amplify the remarks made by the Minister for Housing and Minister for the Status of Women in talking about the importance of the construction industry to the Australian economy. It is important to comprehend that these new houses will be developed in 17 regions across Australia. There will be 100 homes in Adelaide, 103 in Brisbane, 185 in Darwin, which I am sure will be supported by the member for Solomon, and 118 in Townsville. I am assuming the member for Herbert will be saying to the Leader of the Opposition, ‘You must support this initiative,’ and be saying to the opposition, ‘You should be supporting this package of proposals.’

For the DHA this will mean a building activity increase of approximately 74 per cent over the period. The additional building program, I am told, will support up to 2,000 jobs. I say to the members of the opposition, particularly those who have Defence Force personnel in their electorates: make sure that your leader supports this package.