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Thursday, 14 November 1985
Page: 2160

Senator KNOWLES —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing and Construction. Is it a fact that at this time last year a new home buyer would have faced a savings bank interest rate of 11.5 per cent and repayments of about $500 a month on a $50,000 loan? Is it also a fact that, due to the Hawke Government's high interest rate policies, the same potential borrower, unable to get the entire loan from a savings bank even at the much higher interest rate of 13.5 per cent, is now being forced to obtain a combined savings-trading bank loan at interest rates of up to 17.5 per cent, requiring repayments of more than $700 a month; that is, repayments some 40 per cent higher on the same loan than were necessary a year ago? In view of the fact that the Prime Minister has said that Australians will have to live with higher interest rates for a while, is there any relief in sight for home buyers hit by such a savage rise in repayments?

Senator RYAN —In the financial year 1984-85 the number of loans by all significant lenders-that is, 323,370-rose by 2.8 per cent to a new annual record. In the three months to August 1985 total approvals by all lenders remained at a high level; that is, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 336,000. The short term prospects report of the Indicative Planning Council forecast a reduction of 5 per cent in the 1985-86 total number of approvals by banks and permanent building societies. This would need downward revision if banks reduced further lending.

Senator Knowles —I raise a point of order, Mr President. The Minister is simply not answering the question. I ask that the question be answered.

The PRESIDENT —There is no point of order.

Senator RYAN —Thank you, Mr President. Perhaps Senator Chaney should instruct his back benchers about when points of order can properly be raised. While some privately owned banks have announced that they are reviewing their lending, the Commonwealth Savings Bank has indicated that it will be maintaining its lending target of $1.6 billion for the financial year. Borrowers who meet bank eligibility criteria should still be able to get housing loans from savings banks. The first home owners scheme continues to help low to moderate income earners into home ownership and, of course, the Government is monitoring the situation. The summary of the situation is that home ownership, particularly amongst low income families, has dramatically increased under the policies of the Hawke Government and will continue to do so.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I draw the attention of honourable senators to the length of questions that have been asked today. I suggest that far too much information is being given in the questions from both sides of the chamber. I ask that they seek information from Ministers, not provide it.

Senator Chaney —Mr President, I have a point of order. I seek the guidance of the Chair. I would like to know whether it is in order for Senator Ryan to answer the question Senator Messner asked her two questions later when a quite different question was put to her by Senator Knowles. I ask you whether the Minister is under any obligation to answer questions in the order in which they are asked of her.

The PRESIDENT —Order! There is no point of order.