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Wednesday, 16 September 1936

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for External Affairs) [8.31]. - The honorable senator used extravagant language when he said that nothing has been done. I suggest that he must go about Canberra with his eyes shut. During the last eighteen months the Government has been pursuing an active policy of cottage building. It is unfortunate that people will not build homes for themselves in Canberra, as they do in other parts of the Commonwealth, but look to the Government to provide them. Some people say that this is a consequence of the leasehold system.

Senator Collings - The Government brought them here.

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE - In any other part of the Commonwealth a demand for housing accommodation would be met by private enterprise. In none of the capital cities and in none of the States, not even the State which Senator Collings represents, is it regarded as the duty of the Government to provide housing accommodation. A strange habit of mind is exhibited in Canberra; residents believe that the building of homes in this city is solely the responsibility of the Government. Unfortunately, with the financial position as it is, the Government is not able to build all the houses required. In the works Estimates, which will come before the Senate shortly, an amount of approximately £100,000 has been provided for cottage construction.

Senator HARDY (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Subject to a limit of £1,800, the Government even advances 90 per cent, of the estimated COSt of construction to persona wishing to build their own homes .

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE - In spite of that people are not anxious to build. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) is at present engaged in drafting a scheme which he hopes will induce private enterprise to build houses in Canberra, an object eminently to be desired. It is not a good thing that the Government should be the sole landlord, because such a position leads to all sorts of complications. The Government is encouraging private enterprise to build homes, and the sooner that can be accomplished the better. As rapidly as cottages are constructed, people are transferred from the wooden houses at Molonglo, which were -built only as a temporary measure. Because of the rapid development of the city in recent years, construction of cottages has not been able to overtake the demand. In regard to the outbreak of scabies, the discussion which took place during the proceedings of the Advisory Council revealed that, in the opinion of the medical officer, the outbreak was due, not to the class of buildings occupied, but to other causes ; the medical authorities are taking action to deal with the outbreak, i' do not know that anything more can be done. The Government is engaged in the most active building programme it has ever undertaken in Canberra, and it embraces mainly cottages.

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