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Tuesday, 30 November 1971
Page: 3822

Mr Kevin Cairns (LILLEY, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Housing) ---The intention of the Government is that this Bill, be passed through this Parliament as quickly as possible so that the benefits which are included in the Bill will be available to those who desire them. It has been argued that the benefits are minimal - that they are almost not desired - but, of course, those hundreds of people who are waiting anxiously for this legislation to pass disagree with that proposition. The amendments which have been moved by the shadow Minister for Housing, the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), seek to alter the maximum advance which is available under the Act. Let me make it perfectly clear that it is the intention of the Government to increase the maximum advance available to $9,000 at 3¾ per cent interest. The $9,000 is to be available to purchasers as well as to borrowers under the Act.

It goes almost without saying that an advance of an amount of money at any period of time and in any economic situation must be considered in the situation in which it is advanced. For example, to advance money at 3¾ per cent now is very different from a proposition to advance it in the middle 1920s, the middle 1930s or the middle 1940s. So, it is appropriate to consider whether this represents a real advantage. There are 2 calculations thatI would put to the Committee in order to demonstrate what is involved in this proposition. Is the $9,000 advanced at 3¾ per cent under this Act a real benefit or is it a sham benefit? It represents a real contribution of something like $10,000 over the time of the repayment of such a loan. That fact should be appreciated. In other words, were such a loan to be paid off over 40 years at interest rates which are chargeable by other organisations in the community and under the same conditions as apply under this Act, a person would pay $10,000 more than one who was repaying the money under the conditions of the War Service Homes Act. It is a real benefit of that amount. Unfortunately, the interest rate provision may disguise the significance of that benefit.

We could put the argument in another and different way. What would the $9,000 advance available at 3¾ per cent be equivalent to in terms of an advance were it made at 7 per cent? It would be equivalent to something like $12,500 to $13,000 were it made at going rates of interest. So. whichever way it is considered, we suggest that this is a real increase in benefits. We know from the applications that are coming into the Department that there are many applicants - many eligible persons - who desire to take advantage of this benefit. The Government desires that this legislation should pass through this chamber and through the other place as quickly as possible so that this benefit will be made available to those people who are yearning for it to be made available. Therefore, the Government does not accept the 2 amendments which have been proposed by the Opposition.

Motion (by Mr Graham) put -

That the question be now put.

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