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Tuesday, 4 May 1971

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) (Minister for Works) -I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill, which is a transitional measure, is to obtain parliamentary authority for the Commonwealth to make advances to the States for housing for a period from 1st July 1971. The authority provided in the Bill is to make advances during the financial year 1971-72 on the basis of the existing agreement. The need for the legislation arises in this way: Under agreed arrangements, set out in the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreements, the Commonwealth makes advances to the States for housing at a concessional rate of interest, currently 1 per cent below the long term bond rate. Advances under the existing agreement may be made only until 30th June this year. It will hot be possible to negotiate a new agreement with the States in time for presentation to the Parliament before the end of the present sittings.

The Slates are, however, substantially dependent upon advances from the Commonwealth for maintaining their housing operations. It has been a practice of some States to draw part of their housing advances in the early part of each financial year. Some of them may wish to do so early in 1971-72, and the Bill provides the necessary authority. Might I say, Mr President, that we, as a Government, attach considerable importance to the form and extent of our assistance to the States for housing. Very careful consideration has been and is being given to this matter. The Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) expects shortly to be in a position to commence negotiations with the States and to reach agreed conclusions in good time for the introduction of appropriate legislation early in the Budget sittings. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.

Debate (on motion by Senator Poyser) adjourned.

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