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Friday, 28 November 1986
Page: 2989


Senator ARCHER(11.50) —The Opposition does not oppose the States (Works and Housing) Assistance Amendment Bill 1986 but it is highly critical of the economic path we are on. Today I am particularly critical of the architect and operator of the Government's finances. Accordingly, I move:

At the end of the motion, add:

`, but the Senate condemns the Government for pursuing incompetent economic and tax policies which-

(a) have resulted in a continuing high level of interest rates; and

(b) by the imposition of the iniquitous capital gains tax and the removal of negative gearing provisions, have reduced the incentive for private investors to put funds into the private rental market'.

I draw attention to the need of the States and the people of Australia for this funding at the moment. The demand for public housing is at an all time high. Between 31 December 1982 and 31 December 1985 the numbers on the waiting lists around Australia for public housing rose by 41.8 per cent, from 109,800 to 155,753. In Victoria the number increased from 15,323 to 29,306, an increase of 91.25 per cent under this Government. In New South Wales the number rose from 47,989 to 66,667, a rise of 38.92 per cent. In Victoria the delay in getting a house is now 24 months. In New South Wales it is 53 months. It is all very well waiting for a house, but one might have to wait a long time.

The most recent building commencement figures indicate that between the March quarter and the June quarter of 1986 the value of residential building commencements fell by 12 per cent and that the value of non-residential commencements fell by 10 per cent. From June 1985 to June 1986 the value of residential commencements declined by 21 per cent and the value of total building commencements declined by 15 per cent. The figures show the fall-off there has been in people's ability to obtain housing. Figures on the affordability factor produced by the Real Estate Institute of Australia indicate that in the 1985 June quarter it took 22.3 per cent of the average Australian worker's income to meet his mortgage instalment. By June 1986 this was up to 26.5 per cent. It is an alarming increase in the proportion of the expendable income of the average family.

Even worse, of course, is the fact that in Tasmania between June 1985 and June 1986 the monthly loan repayments on the average house went up by 36 per cent while wages went up by 5.8 per cent. Interest rates are between 16.5 and 17.5 per cent for ordinary home owners in Australia. That rate is about 10 per cent higher than that in most other reputable countries. This is what the Government has done to the families of Australia. We can add to this the disincentives to private rental ownership through the negative gearing provisions, capital gains tax and so on. The Government has much to answer for, but the Opposition does not delay the passage of the Bill.