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Thursday, 6 September 1984
Page: 563

Senator REID —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories and Local Government. Will the $6m added to the Commissioner for Housing loan scheme since the Budget completely cover the 355 home buyers whose loans had been approved before 28 August 1984 and funds ran out? Will extra moneys be appropriated to maintain the operation of the Commissioner for Housing loan scheme during the remainder of this year? What is happening to the Westminster system under this Government? Who bears the responsibility for the fiasco in this area under the Minister's control? What are the terms of reference of the inquiry he has ordered? How long will present applicants whose applications have been received but have not been processed have to wait to find out whether or not they qualify? Will the Minister publish the guidelines for eligibility for a Commissioner for Housing loan?

Senator GIETZELT —I think the Government accepts a delay is occurring regarding housing loan applications for the Australian Capital Territory. The Government's allocation of funds was designed to alleviate that problem. However, I am advised that it is not possible to be precise about the problems associated with waiting times, which have been in the past and obviously will be for a long time to come subject to the availability of funds. Funds are determined by the appropriation levels and the rate at which existing mortgagees reduce or discharge their debts. The number of new loans which can be serviced, therefore, is dependent upon the amount required by each successful applicant. Consequently , that is a variable over which the Government has no particular say and which it has to estimate from Budget to Budget.

However, I am advised that market conditions are a significant factor governing the rate at which applications are received. Here again it is difficult for the Government to establish a clear and concise forecast. However, the Minister whom I represent in this place has commenced a review of the eligibility criteria and we hope it will affect and possibly improve the situation associated with the waiting times for those already on the list. I can assure Senator Reid that the Government is aware of the problem and is doing all that is possible to overcome the difficulty experienced by those waiting to have their loans processed and, after that is done, have the funds immediately available to them.