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Monday, 2 April 1984
Page: 1022

Senator FOREMAN —My question, which I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing and Construction, concerns the latest Indicative Planning Council report on the housing industry. I ask: Does the report confirm earlier indications that the recovery in the housing industry, particularly in my home State, South Australia, is well under way? Does the report acknowledge the role played by the Federal Government's housing policies in this recovery of the housing industry? Will the availability of resources in South Australia in any way prevent a continuation of these boom conditions in the 1984-85 financial year, or will the Minister be closely monitoring the situation to ensure that the recovery continues unabated?

Senator GRIMES —As Senator Foreman says, the report of the Indicative Planning Council for the Housing Industry confirms earlier indications that the recovery in the housing industry is well under way. The forecast housing commencements in 1983-84 are 30 per cent above the 20-year low that we had last year of 105,000 commencements, that is, there are 135,000 commencements this year. South Australia, as Senator Foreman will be pleased to know, features prominently in this recovery. The 1983-84 forecast of commencements in South Australia is 11, 500 which is, in fact, 40 per cent over 1982-83. This is the highest level of commencements in South Australia since 1976-77. The report attributes this recovery to increased availability and reduced cost of housing finance, consumer confidence in economic recovery and the continued success of the first home ownership scheme.

Senator Foreman asked me about the availability of resources in South Australia to maintain this recovery. The Council states that in South Australia the labour market is still in an oversupply situation and, in view of the forecast commencements, no major problems can be foreseen for the period under review. Reserve stocks of land have gradually been reduced but are currently considered adequate. However, the Council considers that increased subdivision activity is desirable. It does not consider that there are any constraints on material supplies. However, I can assure honourable senators that the Government is concerned to ensure that recovery is not affected by resource constraints. The Minister for Housing and Construction has informed me that he has instructed his Department to monitor the situation not only in South Australia but also nationally. He has asked the Council to prepare a report on the industry capacity. He has also arranged a meeting in late April with representatives of State and local governments, industry groups, financial institutions, the trade union movement and housing consumers to discuss housing policy issues prior to the Budget and the Premiers Conference. I can assure the chamber that the Government's housing policies for 1984-85 will be developed in close consultation with all relevant groups and all sections of the industry.