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Wednesday, 26 April 1961

Mr HAROLD HOLT - I think the position with relation to our general credit policy and its effect on housing has been made evident to honorable members by the references I have made from time to time to the directive from the Reserve Bank to the trading banks. From the time our credit policy was first announced, it was stressed that lending for such a social purpose as housing was not to be considered as being restricted by the operation of the selective credit policy. It is known that the trading banks generally - and this includes the Commonwealth Trading Bank - are not normally large lenders for housing purposes because they have liquidity problems which restrict their capacity to make long-term loans for housing purposes. But that does not mean that the trading banks have not made some loans over the years. Over more recent years, however, the greater portion of that lending through the banking system has been done through the savings banks.

As a Government, we have taken action to ensure that the rate of lending by savings banks - and this extends to State savings banks as well as the Commonwealth Savings Bank - should be increased at the present time. We recognize that the level of home building has been falling rather lower than we would have wished, although the figures recently conveyed to me for the March quarter of this year indicate that commencements during that period were at the rate of just under 20,000 units for the quarter which, if carried on, would still result in a high level of housing for this year.

Concluding what I wish to say generally on the matter, 1 can assure the honorable gentleman that the Government has this question of housing very much in its mind. We are making a periodic review of the overall economic situation in Cabinet this week and possibly next week, and housing will be one of the large questions to be closely examined by us on an uptotheminute basis. If the honorable gentleman cares to give me details of the particular case to which he referred-

Mr Griffiths - I wrote to you about it a week ago.

Mr HAROLD HOLT - I do not think the honorable gentleman told me a week ago about it. Perhaps he told my staff and it has not yet come through to me. I shall see that the inquiry is conveyed to the Commonwealth Trading Bank, if that is the bank involved, and ascertain what information I can get for the honorable gentleman.

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