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Thursday, 2 April 1987
Page: 1975

Mr RONALD EDWARDS —I ask a question of the Minister for Housing and Construction concerning one of the great success stories of this Government, and that is housing. How will recent changes to the first home owners scheme improve access to home ownership and the performance in the housing industry?

Mr WEST —I point out to honourable members and to Australians that the honourable member for Stirling always exhibits a very great interest in the housing industry, particularly in Western Australia. Our decision last Monday to increase the income limits for the first home owners scheme demonstrates the Government's commitment to assisting low to moderate and middle income earners to acquire their first home. The introduction of even higher income limits for families with dependent children emphasises the Government's concern for the family and indicates a recognition of the additional problems faced by families in achieving first home ownership. The increase in income limits will allow an additional 13,000 first home buyers to benefit from the scheme, and another 13,000 will receive increased assistance. In total, 52,000 first home buyers are expected to receive assistance in 1987-88. I expect an additional 5,000 new starts to result from the changes announced last Monday evening. That should result in an additional 10,000 man years of employment in the housing industry. Over 230,000-odd households have already been assisted by this very worthwhile scheme for an overall commitment of $1,000m.

An amendment to the first home owners scheme regulations will be drafted to give effect to the new income limits from 31 March 1987. The amendments are expected to be in place shortly. I would like to inform applicants who are purchasing after last Monday, 30 March, that they will be able to immediately lodge an application, and will be able to assess their entitlement on the basis of the new income limits. The changes that we announced last Monday, at a time of very great pressure on Budget outlays, illustrate the Hawke Labor Government's ongoing commitment to first home seekers and the industry in very difficult economic times.

Mr Hawker —I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I ask that the Minister table the document from which he was reading.

Madam SPEAKER —Was the Minister reading from a confidential document?

Mr WEST —I was reading from a confidential document and my personal notes.

Mr Hand —On a point of order, Madam Speaker: Perhaps we would all be able to hear the answers if Opposition members were quiet. They would not need documents to be tabled if they were less rowdy, and we would be able to hear.

Madam SPEAKER —The honourable member has raised a point of explanation rather than a point of order.