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Thursday, 17 October 1985
Page: 1408


Senator MESSNER —My question is addressed to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. He may also wish to refer it to the Minister for Finance. Will he advise on the status of the Government's implementation of its promise to privatise the defence service home loans scheme which was a large part of the $1.25 billion expenditure savings proposals which were announced in the May mini-Budget? Has the Government found that the application of the fringe benefits tax and interest rate increases have raised the cost of this scheme to private interests and, therefore, theatened the implementation of its proposal?


Senator GIETZELT —It is true that in the 14 May statement the Government made a commitment to improve the function of the defence service home loans scheme and suggested that the way to do so would be to privatise the Defence Service Homes Corporation. The matter has been the subject of considerable negotiations and discussions within a task force which the Government established subsequent to the 14 May statement, involving the Department of Defence, the Defence Service Homes Corporation, the Department of Finance and, I think, the Department of Housing and Construction. That task force is preparing a report for both the Minister for Finance and me. It is the subject of a submission to government.

It would be true to say that we are concerned that the sum that has been available since 1980, $25,000, is inadequate to meet the requirements of housing in Australia. We are also concerned about the state of defence force housing generally. The task force has had the responsibility of looking into both aspects of housing for serving as well as ex-serving personnel. We hope that a submission will be before Cabinet sometime this year so that legislation will be prepared for the autumn session of Parliament.