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Wednesday, 28 February 1973
Page: 35

Mr SCHOLES - Is the Minister for Housing aware of statements made by the Victorian Minister for Housing in which he claims that under the proposed new CommonwealthState housing agreement no houses will be allowed to be built in country areas? Is this statement true? If it is not true, as I am sure it is not, is there any basis upon which such a statement could be made?

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I have read of the claim by the Victorian Minister for Housing to the effect that it is intended by way of the proposed Commonwealth-State housing agreement to prevent the provision of homes in country areas. I think the Minister may have, derived this understanding from the Commonwealth's declared intention to guide the States in making homes available to needy people and I think he has based his reaction on our proposed criteria, for instance, that the people who should be provided with a housing commission home are those who have an income representing 80 per cent or less of average weekly earnings. It is also proposed that rentals should not exceed 23 per cent of earnings and that special allowances should be made in respect of dependent people.

There is no intention at all on the part of the Government to discourage the provision of housing commission homes in country areas.

In. fact, it is the firm intention of this Government to provide special encouragement in that regard. I have, noted that a number of the State Housing Ministers believe that it is necessary to provide some extra latitude for the purpose of encouraging the employment of key personnel in remote or developing areas. This applies especially to Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia and, to some extent, in Victoria. The attitude of the Victorian Minister is completely without foundation, but I must say that his misplaced attitude on this matter is not in isolation. There seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding on his part. I hope that the impetuous nature of his statement does not have the effect of prejudicing the intention of the Australian Government to negotiate a new Commonwealth-State housing agreement, the basic purpose of which is to make a lot more money available for housing at lower rates of interest with the object of eliminating as quickly as we can that great backlog of housing applications which has now reached the astronomical figure of 93,000 in Australia. This is the legacy of housing which the new Government has inherited. We are dissatisfied with the position and intend doing something about it, I hope with the cooperation of the Victorian Government and the Victorian Housing Minister.

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