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Wednesday, 7 March 1973
Page: 284

Mr ASHLEY-BROWN (MITCHELL, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I direct a question to the Minister for Housing. In view of the Housing Commission of New South Wales being approximately 42,000 homes short of requirements and in view of the fact that, in many cases, migrant hostels are empty, could consideration be given to the using of hostel space by the Housing Commission for temporary housing for urgent cases?

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Commonwealth Hostels Ltd controls about 30 establishments, 13 of which are migrant hostels. I understand that at present, of a total capacity of about 12,000 beds, hostels have a bed occupancy of about 50 per cent. Recently I have had discussions with my colleague, the Minister for Immigration, about the future needs of his Department for Commonwealth hostel accommodation. He has indicated to me that by the end of this financial year Commonwealth Hostels Ltd will be utilising approximately 8,000 beds. He went on to inform me in a letter which I received today that he is contemplating a variety of forms of use of Commonwealth hostels which have not been innovated previously. He also went on to indicate that in, I think, 1974-75 there is likely to be maximum demand on the facilities of Commonwealth Hostels Ltd.

The concern of the honourable member for Mitchell about the waiting list with the Housing Commission of New South Wales is appreciated, there being 43,000 people on the waiting list in that State and 26,000 waiting in Sydney. All I can say to him is that if it becomes apparent that there will be an enduring availability of Commonwealth hostel accommodation, this Government will make certain that it is effectively utilised for important purposes. Among the purposes we would be prepared to take into account are the needs of aged people, emergency accommodation needs generally, student accommodation and possibly the needs of Aboriginal people seeking rehabilitation. But, in any case, if it becomes apparent that beds will be available they will be used. I hope that satisfies the honourable member. There is no indication at this stage, although the review is continuing, that we will have a long term incidence of unused Commonwealth hostel facilities.

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