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Thursday, 19 September 1974
Page: 1237

Senator CARRICK (NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs in his dual position as Minister representing the Minister for Housing and Construction and the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. My question relates to the revelation in the June quarter national accounts that the annual inflation rate in home dwelling construction has been 30 per cent and, in public building construction, a disastrous 40 per cent. It relates also to the Budget assumption of a wage increase of 22.5 per cent next year and to the income tax harvest of 46 per cent.

I ask: Is it not a fact that in real terms the nominal sums in the Budget for urban renewal, schools and hospital construction and home buildings must be discounted on the basis of those revelations by more than 50 per cent to compare with the purchasing power and real construction potential of last year and by at least 70 per cent when contrasted with 1972? Is the Minister aware, for example, that the total Budget sum of $2 8m earmarked for hospital construction throughout Australia would not now be equivalent to the capital cost of onequarter of one new metropolitan public hospital? Finally, will the Minister provide the Senate with the comparative costs of a typical school, hospital and home dwelling for the years 1972, 1973 and 1974 and the projected costs for 1975, so that the real nature of the Budget may be understood?

Senator CAVANAGH - It is obvious that this question was asked for propaganda purposes rather than for information purposes. The fact is that since 1972 more hospitals have been built, more schools have been built and more houses have been built. To seek a comparison of costs in previous years and this year shows a complete lack of understanding of the building industry. Firstly, in relation to housing, what does a house consist of today? At one time a house consisted of 4 walls, a roof and a floor- on some occasions a dirt floor. Today, with built-in furniture, a house is partly furnished. The builders justify the big inceases in costs- we cannot deny that wage increases also cause an increase- on the basis of the additional facilities now involved in home construction. On no account can there be a comparison between newly constructed hospitals and those constructed previously because every new hospital has costly additional features that have been devised in the field of hospital architecture. There are special architects engaged in increasing the facilities and benefits. I do not think the comparison would be of any value.

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