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Wednesday, 29 August 1973
Page: 516

Mr OLDMEADOW (HOLT, VICTORIA) - My question, which is directed to the Minister for Housing, relates to the problem of providing emergency housing - a serious problem in my electorate and, I believe, in other pans of Australia. Has the Government any plans to assist people faced with emergency housing problems? To what extent is it possible to use vacant accommodation in migrant hostels, such as the Enterprise hostel in Springvale, for this purpose? Where the Australian Defence Services own or rent a number of housing units in State housing commission areas - again, as is the case in my electorate - would it be possible to use them for emergency ' housing purposes when they are vacant, as I have been advised is not uncommon?

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - When this Government took office in December last, there was no emergency accommodation in any State, the facilities which had previously been available having been jettisoned in the lifetime of the previous Government. If my memory serves me correctly, the honourable member's electorate contains the hostel known as Enterprise. The Enterprise hostel in Victoria is one of our modern and very successful establishments with accommodation for 1,000 people and is one in which the capacity is effectively utilised. It usually has in it about 900 persons, which is about the working rate of the hostel having regard to the . turnover of people. There needs to be a margin of vacant accommodation. In Australia there are about 2,800 hostel beds and in Melbourne there are 1,000 beds currently available which are surplus to immigra tion requirements. It is the declared intention of the Government to get maximum versatility in the utilisation of these facilities.

Of course, a problem does exist. People who are waiting for State housing authority assistance do not always have the financial resources to meet the cost involved in the provision of full board and accommodation. However, I have made it clear in correspondence to the Victorian Minister that the Australian Government has a preparedness to make that accommodation available. I understand there were emergency facilities available at Camp Pell, which is in the vicinity of Melbourne, but these were found to be quite unsuitable. During the course of the negotiations with the Housing Ministers in connection, with the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement I indicated to each Minister my interest in ensuring that adequate emergency accommodation was available and stated that the Commonwealth would stand ready to assist in the provision of such facilities. However, it was made clear to me by the Victorian Minister of Housing that this was not considered to be a desirable form of assistance. So, our offer has not been taken up. In regard to the last aspect of the honourable gentleman's question, in the event of Service accommodation becoming available, it seems to me that it would be quite reasonable to utilise it. In fact, I would regard it as quite immoral not to utilise it for other purposes in the event of defence personnel not having a proper requirement for those facilities.

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