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Wednesday, 16 March 1977
Page: 298

Dr JENKINS (Scullin) -In the last couple of weeks some of my colleagues have raised questions concerning the 1976 census. They have raised matters of employment and unemployment figures. I wish to refer to this same census with regard to other figures which are of some significance. My attention has been directed to the preliminary figures of population and dwellings in local government areas in Victoria. I rise to express concern because these census figures show in the City of Preston, which forms quite a large part of my electorate, a population of 88 380 people. The estimate of the city valuer and the rate collector of the council of the City of Preston, based on rate and other records, is that the population of the city is 101000. There is quite a considerable difference between the 2 figures. Further, the census figures for occupied dwellings show 25 800 dwellings, whereas the records of the Preston City Council show 26 386 dwellings. Once again there is quite a significant difference between the municipal records and the figures taken at the census.

The census figures state that there are 1 1 89 unoccupied dwellings. This is a quite ridiculous figure. There is a housing shortage in the area. Estate agents have nothing or next to nothing on their books and when they do have something, it goes pretty quickly. One could explain some unoccupied dwellings by people being on holidays but I scarcely think it would be to the extent of 1 1 89 dwellings, particularly in an area where this Government's economic measures and the unemployment that it has caused are having such a dire effect. It has been put to me that I should raise this question in the House as subsidies from both Commonwealth and State sources are based on a per capita grant. Municipalities receive very substantial amounts of money for those areas based on a per capita grant. The Commonwealth grant to local government has a per capita component which is clearly spelt out. The State government grants in many areas, such as libraries for municipalities, are based on a per capita grant. The question has been asked of me whether the figures are being deliberately falsified to keep these Government contributions at a low rate. I think that in view of the divergence that can be shown in the figures, it is a not unreasonable question to ask. I had my electorate assistant examine the pattern in other municipalities. He has made inquiries and received statements from other municipalities to the effect that this pattern is quite clear throughout a number of municipalities in the Melbourne and metropolitan area. I think this sort of divergence in numbers and the obvious anomalies in the census require an answer by the Government, particularly when they affect the finance obtained by local government bodies.

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