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Thursday, 21 May 1970

Mr LUCHETTI (Macquarie) - The Opposition has no alternative but to accept the course indicated by the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren). We are placed in a position where we are unable at this stage to put forward the type of policy which we believe is necessary for the housing of the people of Australia. We are unable to widen the scope of the Bill. We have to accept the situation as it exists. For that reason I support the dignified plea and protest of the Opposition which has been made by honourable members on this side of the chamber. Surely this great human problem of housing ought to have roused the conscience and feelings of honourable members on the Government side. Certainly there can be no honourable member who has not been approached by his constituents pleading the need for money and urging the need to make representations for additional finance to be made available at the appropriate and satisfactory interest rate. This is true; yet we have an organisation throughout Australia - the credit union movement - which is playing a most important part in helping people in their campaigns of thrift to save money for essential purposes. But this Government, which has expressed its concern about growing inflation and says it sees the need to save and to stop wasteful spending, is not prepared to encourage the credit unions to make available the funds which should be made available for home building or for any other purpose.

I believe that to become a member of a credit union is a badge of good citizenship and something which should be applauded by all honourable members. Yet the work of the credit union movement is spurned and disregarded by the Government. Instead of marshalling the resources of the credit unions and encouraging this important work of providing homes for the newly marrieds, for migrants coming into this country and for all of the people wanting to build this nation through building houses, as they must, the Government has remained cold and aloof from the human problem. I think that we ought to take every opportunity to accept funds from all types of savings organisations and to channel them into the building of homes in this country. One can offer credit to a government which proceeds with plans for home building and encourages people to save. But why should the Government close the doors upon organisations like the credit unions which are indeed making a significant contribution to saving funds and providing money which is necessary for the building of homes and establishing people in homes, as has been indicated previously by other honourable members who have spoken in this debate.

The Opposition is distressed to think that at this time when so many homes are required the Government has failed to grasp this opportunity to collect the additional funds which could be made available to help overcome the great lag in the required number of homes in this country at the present time. I deplore the fact that people are compelled to go out to the fringe financial institution and pay I2i% and more for money for the purpose of building homes, causing great burdens to be placed upon them which they will be compelled to carry throughout their working lives. The proposal for the utilisation -of the funds of credit unions which was originally made by the Opposition could have helped to overcome these difficulties. I join with other honourable members on this side of the House in voicing the strongest protest and expression of disgust at the attitude of the Government in respect of this matter.

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