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Tuesday, 1 May 1973
Page: 1517

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins (SCULLIN, VICTORIA) - I invite the honourable member to return to the provisions of the Bill before the House.

Mr HOLTEN - My remarks have application to this Bill because it allocates money and cannot be divorced from the total budgetary scene. There are other clouds on the horizon in regard to the general housing situation and the lack of adherence to the promises that were made by the Prime Minister in his policy speech in relation to home building and the purchase of homes generally. The Prime Minister made a solemn promise that interest paid on mortgages would be allowed as a tax deduction in this financial year. The proposal was one of the Labor Party's major election promises.

Mr Hallett - What happened to it?

Mr HOLTEN - My friend and colleague in the Country Party, the honourable member for Canning, asks what happened to it. The position is that it is reported in the Press that the Government is believed to have postponed it on the advice of the Federal Treasury. This must be of great concern to people who are interested in housing. It is another of the promises that the Labor Party made to the people of Australia in the course of its persuasive efforts, but it looks like being unfulfilled. Another problem to be faced in the long term is the successful negotiation of the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement for a 5-year term. As I said, this Bill provides an emergency grant of the sum of $6.5m. It will be interesting to hear what the Minister for Housing has to say about whether the State governments will be able to spend this amount of money in the 8 weeks that are left before the prescribed period expires at 1 July. I point out that this expenditure must be in excess of any expenditure committed by State governments in their normal programs. From my reading of the Bill the expenditure must be over and above their normal budgetary expenditure.

I turn to a few other problems. I was talking about the long term effects of the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement which is mentioned in the second reading speech. We note that several Ministers in the State governments, including the Minister of Housing in Victoria, the Minister for Housing in Queensland and some Labor Ministers in South Australia and in Western Australia are most unhappy about the emphasis that the Federal Minister for Housing, speaking on behalf of the Labor Government, is placing on the fact that the money to be made available under the 5-year Housing Agreement must be spent to a large degree on the construction of rental housing.

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is what the honourable member for Wentworth was advocating a while ago. Did you hear him say that?

Mr HOLTEN - What the honourable member for Wentworth said has nothing to do with what you as the Minister responsible for housing matters are saying. You are putting to the States - and they rightly disagree with it - that the maximum amount of money ought to be used for rental housing. It seems to me that I have read that somewhere in a political ideology which is dominant in some countries which operate under a system under which Australians would not like to live. If the Minister can prove that that is not true, I will apologise. But I think it is true that the principle of the socialist government is to provide flat and rental accommodation at the expense of people owning their own homes. This leads to the ultimate situation where people can be moved quickly from area to area into rental accommodation. Of course, it mitigates against what was called, I believe by a former Labor Prime Minister of great distinction, the 'little capitalist".

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What was that Prime Minister's name?

Mr HOLTEN - It might have been Mr Dedman, now that I come to think of it. But it was a Labor Minister who said it. It might not have been a Labor Prime Minister. How ever, under 23 years of Liberal-Country Party Government the Australian community - not because of the previous Government alone, but the previous Government did make a contribution - Australia has one of the highest home ownership percentages per head of population in the world. That is a statistical fact. As I have said, this is not necessarily solely to the credit of the previous Government. It has resulted from the combined effort of many organisations including the banks, the housing organisations, the co-operative societies, the permanent building societies and many other great institutions throughout Australia, I conclude by reiterating the interest and concern of the Australian Country Party in ensuring that a fair share of any money made available for housing should be allocated to the rural areas of Australia.

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is not that up to the States?

Mr HOLTEN - The Minister is telling the States what they are to do with their housing money. Yet he asks: 'Is not that up to the States?'

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Do you want me to tell them?

Mr HOLTEN - The Minister would do a good job if he told the States to spend the money in the country areas of Australia. I conclude on a very serious and responsible note by saying that we in the Australian Country Party believe that the centralisation of population in Australia is a very bad thing.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Order!The honourable member's time has expired.

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