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Tuesday, 20 October 1970

Mr IRWIN (Mitchell) - We have had a demonstration today of a little knowledge being dangerous. The honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), had he been fully aware of the circumstances, would not have made some of his statements. Interest is a commodity and, like other commodities, it has increased in value. But during the period of which he spoke, from 1946 to today, the basic wage has risen 5 or 6 times. I do not agree with the rise in the interest rate, but the hon ourable member conveniently forgot to tell the House that at the end of 25 years the person who elects to pay rent has nothing to show for his weekly outlay which is very much bigger than that of the person who purchases a house. The former has paid all his money away in rent and has no home. The person who purchased his home and paid it off by instalments has an asset which will appreciate in value over the years to about $20,000 to $25,000. The honourable member, either is ignorant of these facts or is misleading the House.

The special account has been desirable in the past, but I think the time has now arrived when we have to give consideration to the low wage earner and the person with four or five children. The honourable member asked how people on low incomes can be accommodated in the purchase of their homes. As far as New South Wales is concerned, I would say that there is no better method of purchasing a home for people on low wages and with limited resources than by purchasing through the Housing Commission of New South Wales. The Commission's homes are reasonable. They are built to a very high standard. The surroundings are quite good. Allowing for the pride in ownership of a home that a person takes, these homes are quite satisfactory. In Housing Commission areas not many amenities such as swimming pools and public halls are provided. This is unfortunate. The people who designed and organised these homes were wanting in their regard to the social amenities to which people in this day and age are entitled.

The honourable member referred to Green Valley and such places. They are the outcome of a Socialist government, whose ideas have unfortunately been carried on by a Liberal government. The great sprawl that we have witnessed in the metropolitan area of Sydney should never have taken place. Years ago I fought strongly for and recommended that new cities and new towns be established. If one wants any idea of the efficacy of that statement one just needs to look around Canberra to see what can be done by proper organisation and planning. But what did we see in New South Wales? We saw the advent of the Cumberland County Council which took away the farm lands within a 25 mile radius of Sydney. It put an embargo on thousands of blocks of land in many streets where there was water and electricity reticulation. To this very day thousands of blocks of land that were subdivided prior to the war are lying idle while young married couples are denied the right to their own homes. This situation has been brought about by a Socialist government and sad to relate continued by a Liberal government not abolishing the scheme initiated by the government from which it took over.

These circumstances are outside the control of this Government. I do hope and trust that great thought will be given to preventing this wretched urban sprawl in which necessary services must be provided over 30 miles to 35 miles whereas beautiful cities in which people would need to travel no more than 4 miles to 5 miles to reach the centre of each city could have been established. With respect to these seaboard cities in Australia, such as Sydney, which spread out to the west, to the north and to the south, we see the high cost involved in building facilities to provide essential services such as water supply and sewerage, and railways and transport systems. The costs involved are huge. In my area, 7,000 people leave the station at Seven Hills between the hours of 7 and 8 in the morning to travel 20 miles to 30 miles to their places of employment. If this is planning, Mr Deputy Speaker, I do not know what the word means.

This situation has been thrust upon us by people who. are not aware fully of the circumstances and to whom people do not matter. Mention to a planning authority officer the subject of people and he will laugh. Other than people, what is planning necessary for? To planning authorities people are just chessmen to be passed over on the board. It is time that we came to a realisation as to what is happening. We see ugly concrete jungles erected in a city such as Sydney. We see huge wastage of money when, within 12 miles of the city, expressways are built. Before those expressways are completed, they are out of date.

Instead of expenditure being wasted in that way, less could have been spent to establish cities on our coast and in the centre of New South Wales. These would be cities of which we could have been proud and where areas of population could be well separated. When one reflects that these things are happening in a nuclear age, one wonders at the capacity of these planners to think. The explosion of one atomic bomb in the area and Newcastle and Sydney would be devastated. Nobody can dismiss my suggestion when we live in such a tortuous world by saying that such a thing will not happen. I remind the House that 10 years ago China did not have an atomic warhead. Now it has nuclear warheads. By our planning we are making possible this type of devastation that I have mentioned. An enemy would not need to allow even for a margin of error because we have allowed this intensified conglomeration of concrete and jungle to be constructed.

Why did this state of affairs come about? It came about because we have not found an Australian character. Unless an item is imported, it is of no prestige, lt is about time that we became Australia and Australian. Our system of planning is no different from other systems. Planning systems must be imported. Everything, to be worthy of prestige, has to be imported. We have imported the stupid idea of big cities from the older countries of the world. This development occurred at the time of the industrial revolution. England was a beautiful country with its cities well separated.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order!I would suggest that the honourable member is getting a little wide of the provisions of the Bill. 1 ask that (he honourable member return to the matter of housing.

Mr IRWIN - Well, Mr Deputy Speaker, I am telling of housing. I am informing the House what we could have had but for the wasteful thinking of our planners. The money that we are supplying is being expended on this terrific sprawl and ugliness that has been presented to us by socalled planners. But, out of respect for you, Mr Deputy Speaker, I will not proceed on this point although I would have liked to have shown how the concept of cities of great mass emanated from the industrial revolution. We have followed suit. Now we are paying the penalty.

The penalty is being paid by those to whom more consideration should be given. T refer to the low wage earner and to the young married couple who are rearing 4 or 5 children. In New South Wales, the burden that these people must carry has been caused by planning. There are thousands of blocks of land in my area which, if they had been free and no embargo had been placed on them by the Cumberland County Council and the State Planning Authority worthy Australians - worthy young people - would have been able to buy for £200 to £300 a block, that is, $400 to $600 a block. But this opportunity was denied to these people because of the advent of the Cumberland County Council and the State Planning Authority.

Since 1951. when land could be purchased in North Parramatta for $500 a block, we find that a block of land cannot be purchased today at Smithfield, Fairfield or in some portions of the Blacktown municipality for less than $10,000 a block. These prices are artificial and arranged all because the old fashioned law of supply and demand was not permitted to prevail. If all the land that was available had been sold without any embargo, young married couples would have been able to purchase lots for not more than $2,000 to $2,500 each. These are the facts of lift. If the honourable member for Reid wants any tuition in and a full appreciation and understanding of these problems, I will be pleased to tutor him on them. 1 have had tremendous experience in this respect. I have had the great joy and privilege of seeing low wage earners being able to occupy 2,000 homes. I supervised this and, through the bank for which I worked, I found the money with which these homes were built. 1 am speaking in this regard about a matter of which I have full and ample knowledge.

Reference might be made to the high cost of building. But, in this respect, we must have regard to the standard of improvement in homes and domestic appliances. We have seen this standard of improvement reflected in all rooms in a home including the bathroom. There is a general appreciation of the better type of home that has been erected over the last 5 years to 7 years. The real agony is caused because of the high cost of land. In Sydney where the State Planning Authority should control such matters, we find the autonomous Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board, with reserves and investments valued at $132m while hundreds of homes go without water and hundreds of homes are without sewerage, exercising this control. The Board has this colossal amount of $132m lying idle while people still want water and sewerage services.

The existing housing agreement ls an excellent one. The current 5-year agreement is drawing to a close. When we are making agreements with the States to cover the next 5 years I do trust that we will do everything possible to make it easier for the person on a low wage to buy a home. 1 trust the Commonwealth Government will take over the building of Service homes under the guidance of its own department. I think this is necessary because we should have individuality in design. If we mass produce homes there is always a tendency towards sameness and likeness and monotony, especially when homes that are erected by only one authority. 1 trust that Service homes will be of individual designs and that, for the convenience of the serving personnel, they will be in areas near to barracks, camps, naval depots and other such places. The present agreement has been achieved in spite of some disagreement. There has. of course, never been an agreement prepared that has not, but in a general way it has met a very difficult situation. As we move into the 1970s we will find that the agreement of 1955-66 is not the type of agreement that will be for the betterment of those people wanting houses. For those reasons we should give the matter very serious consideration and I trust that the Minister will meet the housing committee of the Government parties so that we can go into this matter very fully and give it the consideration and thought that it deserves. I commend the Bill for what it is doing in regard to housing.

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