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Tuesday, 26 November 1974
Page: 2708

Senator DEVITT (TASMANIA) -I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Housing: Will he agree that the sole basis of entitlement to benefits under the Defence Service Homes Act should be the former member's service and that there should be no denial of benefits simply because an ex-serviceman has chosen not to marry. On the basis of this reasoning should not . an entitlement be available under the Defence Service Homes Act to an otherwise qualified member who remains unmarried but who has purchased or acquired a home and lives therein. In view of the fact that the numbers in this category would be very small and in any event the loan would be totally repaid with interest in due course, is there any justification for continuing this quite unfair and unjust discrimination?

Senator Drake-Brockman - Amend the Bill.

Senator CAVANAGH - No there is no justification for continuing the discrimination and, in accordance with the suggestion by Senator Drake-Brockman, the Government is acting responsibly and intends to remove this discrimination. As honourable senators will remember, the Treasurer in his Budget Speech stated that he intended to amend the Defence Service Homes Act to remove this restriction which has been in the Act since it came into operation in 1919. We know that many single men or widowers who have the necessary period of service do not qualify for a housing loan because of the restrictive provisions of the present Act. Last year we amended the Act to permit single women with the necessary service to qualify. The honourable senator's question refers to those people who have bought a home and cannot get assistance. Of course defence service homes loans are not available to those who have already bought a home although they can be made available for the repayment of certain mortgages. I do not know whether the individuals the honourable senator had in mind are in the process of buying a home or whether they have already bought a home. A Bill has been introduced into the other House to amend the Act and take away the discrimination against single men and widowers.

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