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Thursday, 15 October 1970

Mr LYNCH - Housing is of vital concern not only to migrants but to all Australians. The honourable gentleman questions the role of the Department of Immigration and my own Ministry in relation to the provision of permanent housing in the community is not a matter which falls within my responsibility or indeed the responsibility of the Commonwealth. The Stales are the principal suppliers of low cost housing for the general community, and the honourable gentleman would know the substantial sums which the Commonwealth provides for the States under the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement. T think that the funds provided this year - I will need to check the figures - are approximately $142m.

The second comment I make is that whilst the Commonwealth has a responsibility to do all in its power to offset the difficult transition that is involved in the migration of people from one country to another, we should never reach the point where migrants in this community are placed in any position of preferment or privilege vis-a-vis Australians who are born here. If that were the case it would be counterproductive to the whole concept of effective integration.

In conclusion I say briefly that our responsibility as a Commonwealth lies in the provision of transitory accommodation for Commonwealth nominated migrants. We do this in 2 forms. The first is in relation to the hostel programme. There are approximately 30 hostels throughout the country on which, since 1965, there has been an expenditure of approximately $30m. The second is in relation to the new flat programme which was ininitiated some 18 months ago and which has proved to be an outstanding success. Today some 250 flats are available for migrants throughout the community. This number will be increased by approximately 200 new flats this year. This is an indication of what the Commonwealth is doing. The fact that it is discharging its responsibility will, I believe, be clear from the answer I have given.

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