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Thursday, 8 September 1949

Mr LEMMON (Forrest) (Minister for Works and Housing) . - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

This bill seeks parliamentary authority for further advances to the States of capital funds totalling £17,000,000 in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement Act 1945. The following statement reveals' the continued increase in advances made to the States by the Commonwealth since the inception of the agreement: -


During the same period parliamentary appropriations amounting to £52,000,000 were approved, leaving a balance of £6,393,000 available at the 30th June, 1 949, to enable the building programme to continue uninterrupted in the early months of this financial year. A £17,000,000 programme for expenditure under the above agreement was recommended to the Loan Council by the CoordinatorGeneral of Works and was endorsed by the Loan Council at its meeting last month as part of the works programme for 1949-50. For purposes of determining the borrowing programme for 1949-50, however, the Loan Council decided to make an overall cut of 23 per cent. in the works programme and to review the position again in January, 1950, in the light of the progress made by that time in the implementation of the works programme. The borrowing programme for 1949-50 approved by the Loan Council for housing purposes under this agreement is therefore limited to £13,100,000. It will be appreciated, therefore, that Loan Council approval will be required if it proves necessary to extend the borrowings for this purpose beyond £13,100,000. I should add that Parliament is being asked to authorize the appropriation of the full amount of £17,000,000 at this stage in order to ensure that any action which may subsequently be required, having regard to the Loan Council decision in relation to borrowings for these housing advances to the States, may not be delayed by the lack of adequate appropriation by the Parliament.

To the end of June, 1949, 32,609 dwellings were commenced under the agreement in the five States operating under it. Of these, 23,014 had been completed and 9,595 were under construction at the 30th June, 1949. Completions during the year ended the 30th June, 1949, were 7,743, an increase of over 21 per cent. on the completions for the previous year. Of these, 2,363, representing 30 per cent., were in country areas. The agreement is primarily designed to bring homes of good standard within the reach of persons of small means. This purpose is achieved by the provision of rental rebates, under which families whose incomes equal the basic wage do not have to pay more than one-fifth of their income in rent whatever may be the economic rent of the dwelling they occupy. As the family income rises above the basic wage, or falls below it, the amount of rebate decreases or increases. The total amount of rental rebates granted up to the 30th June, 1949, was £132,211. The agreement makes provision for a tenant, if he wishes, to purchase the home which he occupies. The States are, of course, principals under the agreement and they determine the basis of sale. Commonwealth approval is necessary only if a State should desire to sell a house below capital cost. An important feature of the agreement in the present circumstances of an acute housing shortage is that all dwellings must be allotted in accordance with the relative needs of applicants and that at least50 per cent. must go to exservicemen. In practice, the proportion allotted by States to ex-servicemen and their dependants, has averaged 65 per cent.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Harrison) adjourned.

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