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Wednesday, 3 October 1984
Page: 1469


Mr HODGMAN(12.35) —In order to facilitate the Government's legislative program I will abbreviate my remarks. I say from the outset that if ever a Minister deserves to have his name changed it is the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Hurford). I commend to the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) that this Minister be renamed the Minister for the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. In 1983, with a great fanfare of trumpets, the Minister brought in a first home owners scheme which was commended by this side of the House even though we thought its predecessor was a better scheme. However within 12 months, after 55, 000 Australians had been assisted under that scheme, the Government hacked it away. It particularly hacked it away in relation to young, single female Australians who want to own their own home. Madam Deputy Speaker, it is appropriate that you are in the chair, with your long-standing record of supporting the ambitions and the right to achieve of young Australian women.

If a young lady in Australia today is earning more than $13,950 per annum, under this miserable socialist Minister for Housing and Construction she cannot be assisted under the first home owners scheme. I think it is to the standing discredit of this Government that having brought in a scheme which we all supported-I sat in a hotel breakfast room in Hobart and saw the Minister beaming to the nation on television from a hotel breakfast in Sydney-within 12 miserable months it has declared war on young, single Australians who want to own their own home. I think that is disgraceful.

The Government did not increase, as it should have, the upper income limit for eligibility for the scheme. That should be indexed to allow for inflation. What the Government did, as the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fife) has pointed out so correctly, was declare war on middle Australia. It is somewhat reminiscent, is it not, Madam Deputy Speaker, of the remarks of a former socialist Minister in an earlier administration who referred to the home owning aspirations of Australians as destined to create a nation of 'little capitalists '?

The little capitalist syndrome runs strong in the ranks of the Hawke socialist Government. What the Government has done is extraordinary. It has increased the appropriation for housing assistance, yet it has made it harder for the people who should be helped under this scheme to qualify. I do not understand why the Minister turned his back on a scheme which he brought in with such enthusiasm and which was greeted on a bipartisan basis. Surely this Minister deserves the sobriquet 'the Minister for the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away'. What will happen next year if, by some grotesque misfortune of fate, the Hawke socialist Goverment wins the next Federal election? I think all Australians should take a lead from what happened in the Budget this year. The Minister gives one year and he takes away the next.

I am the first to concede that this Minister has a number of good things going for him. The permanent head of his Department is probably the best thing he has going for him. The Minister is a pleasant, amiable Minister and on paper he has done quite well. But to bring home very forcibly where Tasmania has been short changed I will refer briefly to some figures from the Budget documents because I think it is important to put the matter into context by way of comparison. Madam Deputy Speaker, I have my eye on the clock, as do you, in deference to what the Minister said. Sure, the bald figures look good but let it not be forgotten that these are tied grants, specific purpose grants, and made even more specific by virtue of the agreement to which the Minister referred in his second reading speech, which will go for 10 years.

I refer to how the rest of the money which is going to Tasmania has been adversely affected and why it is that the Government's housing package is not such a good deal for my State of Tasmania as it might otherwise have been. I refer to page 17 of Budget Paper No.7. By way of comparison I point out that in the last year of the Fraser Government the tax sharing per capita relativity figure for 1982-83 for Tasmania was 1.87261. In the first year of the Hawke socialist Government it dropped to 1.75931 and in 1984-85, under the Hawke socialist Government, it will drop to 1.646. If I turn the page and look at the differential relativities implied by proposed per capita relativities and actual tax sharing grants, I see that for Tasmania for the last year of the Fraser Government the figure was plus 56.4 per cent but for the first year of the Hawke socialist Government it dropped to plus 47.5 per cent. For comparison, in 1984- 85 the figure will drop; it will be only 38.5 per cent, a drop of 18 per cent from 1982-83 to 1984-85. It is when one takes these figures into account that one realises the Minister is selling Tasmania a pup in relation to the great deal we are supposed to have received.

I refer to the distribution of State government Loan Council programs which appears on page 27 of Budget Paper No. 7. Again, for comparison I must make the point that in 1983-84, under the Hawke socialist Government, $102,955,000 was made available and for 1984-85 the figure is only $109,648,000, a miserable increase of only 7.01 per cent compared with a massive increase of 32.32 per cent for New South Wales under the Wran Labor Government and 25.12 per cent for Victoria under the Cain Government. Where is the justice for Tasmania there?

I turn to the advances for houses for ex-servicemen. These figures are found on page 41 of Budget Paper No. 7. In 1981-82, under the Fraser Government, $75,000 was approved for advances for houses for servicemen in Tasmania; in 1982-83 $19, 000 was approved; in 1983-84 not a cent was approved; and in 1984-85 not a cent is proposed. Where is the justice for Tasmania? Finally, because these amounts are relevant to the overall picture, I refer to the recurrent grants for home care services under the provision of the States Grants (Home Care) Act 1969. Let me give the bald figures. In 1982-83, under the Fraser Liberal Government, Tasmania received $813,000. In 1983-84, under the Hawke socialist Government, that figure dropped to $630,000. In addition, when I turn over the page I find the same story emerges in relation to grants for senior citizens centres. In 1982-83, under the Fraser Government, $262,000 was allocated. In the Hawke socialist Government's first year in government $226,000 was allocated. What has the Government budgeted for this year? A miserable $207,000 for senior citizens centres.

This Minister and this Government have a lot to answer for. The so-called good deal for Tasmania pales and looks very thin indeed when one looks at the other figures. I hope that the Minister comes to his senses and does the right thing for Australia's smallest but nevertheless most wonderful State.