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Wednesday, 23 November 1960

Mr GRIFFITHS (SHORTLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I direct a question to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that as a result of the new sales tax proposals, the Government expects to have a considerable surplus at the end of this financial year? Is it also a fact that more than 20,000 exservicemen are awaiting finance to purchase war service homes, and that applications are being received at the rate of more than 19,000 a year? Is it true that the waiting time is now more than two years? If so, will the Treasurer consider making available to ex-servicemen finance that is likely to become available from the new taxes or from the central bank or from the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve to ease the appallingly long waiting period that is now so obvious? Further* will the Treasurer inform the Parliament of the real reason why ex-servicemen are being compelled to seek special loans from finance companies at exorbitant interest rates to purchase existing properties while, awaiting finance, when it must be apparent to all honorable members that funds could be made available from various sources for properties already available for purchase?-

Mr. HAROLDHOLT__ The honorablegentleman set out to ask a question and ended by making what amounted to » small propaganda speech. The first part of his question dealt with the amount of additional revenue the Commonwealth Government might expect to get from the sales tax measure announced earlier. My assessment is that if the measure has the results we hope for, there will be little or no increase in revenue; in fact, there could be some reduction in the revenue previously expected from this source. However, that remains to be seen. This Government, as is well known, has provided finance on an unprecedented scale for war service homes builders over recent years. In the last Budget, despite the pressure that was on us in other directions, and although the building industry was at that stage quite fully engaged, we did provide £35,000,000, the same amount as in the previous year. The information available to me does not confirm what the honorable gentleman put forward as a series of factual statements. My own information does not suggest that the waiting period has lengthened. Certainly, on the evidence of the number of home units constructed in the previous quarter, which was a record, it would appear that the Government is proving more successful than any Labour government before it in meeting the housing shortage in this country.

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