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Tuesday, 28 August 1973
Page: 486

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -

Mr INNES - That table discloses that in building construction there is a significant imbalance between the public sector and the private sector. During the March quarter in Melbourne $34,567,000 worth of office space was approved for construction and only S597.000 worth of construction for the public sector was approved. Building approvals are a useful measure and can be used as a barometer of social change and as a means of determining possible sources of inflationary pressure. There is no doubt that there is excessive office block construction, excessive speculation in the central business district and far too little expenditure in the public sector and in the country. In the 'Australian Economic Review' the following views were expressed in an article on the Australian economy:

The acceleration in the rate of growth in land prices in the past 2 years has undoubtedly been related to the build-up in capital inflow and the extremely easy monetary conditions, as well as increasing awareness in the community of the gains to be made from property in an inflationary situation. It has resulted in very substantial income shifts from the poorer to the richer sections of the community and placed many of the poor and lower income earners in an impossible situation in regard to housing .. . Even if land prices were stabilised immediately there would still be a major social problem left to resolve.

Over the last 2 years there has been a remarkable escalation in housing prices within the Federal electorate of Melbourne, particularly in the suburbs of North Carlton, North Melbourne, East Melbourne and North Fitzroy. There are many examples which could be cited. A single frontage, single storey, 2-bedroom ' house on the corner of Church Street and Flemington Road, West Parkville, which sold for $11,000 in January 1972 was resold recently for $19,000. No renovations had been made. In North Carlton 2-storey terrace houses which were selling for less than $20,000 2 years ago now bring in excess of $35,000 unrenovated. The escalation in housing costs is having immense sociological ramifications for the community in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. It has produced a significant change in the nature of the population. Working class residents no longer can afford to remain in the area. The rapidly spiralling prices have meant that migrants and other low income groups no longer can afford to buy in these over-priced residential areas. They have been forced into the outer fringes of the western suburbs where they have to undertake the costly pioneering work associated with the establishment of new suburbs.

It is these settlers on low incomes who have to pay for the provision of roads, sewerage, lighting and other basic essential services such as libraries and public health facilities, and who have to subsidise the new educational complexes. These services already have been provided to a degree in my electorate, and this is part of the reason why the area has become so attractive to the middle class in recent years.

The Housing Commission regrettably has accentuated this trend. To some extent it has been fulfilling the positive role of supplying housing for those on low incomes, but it has been doing this in the inner areas in an especially rigid and unacceptable form. Mr Speaker, as the tactics of the Opposition have precluded me from finishing what I would have liked to say, I ask that the rest of my speech be incorporated in Hansard.

Mr SPEAKER -If the honourable member keeps going he may finish it. He still has another minute.

Mr INNES - The Housing Commission has erected concrete monstrosities that are most unsuitable for families and with an unacceptably heartless technique it has deprived low income families - in many cases migrants - of houses they do not want to part with. To some extent it has helped relatively affluent salaried workers to buy own-your-own flats in the inner areas and in the process it has given the appearance of favouring one particular master builder This firm has developed twothirds of the land which has been reclaimed with public money. M. A. Jones, in his book Housing and Poverty', maintains that there is at least a 3-fold subsidy involved.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

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