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Wednesday, 16 May 1973
Page: 2168

Mr BERINSON (PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I direct a question to the Minister for Housing. Is it a fact that legal and other overhead charges on housing loans by building societies are often $200 or more above the charges on identical loans by banks? If so, what is the justification for the higher charges by the building societies? If there is no adequate justification for their level, will the Minister, if necessary in cooperation with the States, seek to have them reduced?

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I think that what the honourable gentleman suggests is the fact, although I am unable to confirm it. Suggestions along those lines have been made to me by other honourable members. The control of building societies is, of course, a matter for the States and I am pleased that included in the honourable member's question was the suggestion that if anything is to be done, even the matter of looking at this whole problem, it should be done in co-operation with the States. Quite frankly, there are many aspects of building society administration which are receiving my own personal attention and that of my Department. I am pleased to see that the Prime Minister, as late as yesterday, has given some manifestation of his own interest in the activities of building societies.

I believe that the building society movement generally is of such significance and is such an important structure in the home financing processes that it would be indiscreet to make what could be thought to be impetuous comments about even the kind of matter to which the honourable member has referred, let alone more significant matters. Yet permanent building societies, lending matters generally and, for my own part, all those matters which are significant in the housing arrangements that we have in this country, are not taken for granted, will not be taken for granted and will be the subject of careful scrutiny. The matters referred to are not of an unimportant nature, but they do not represent the most significant matters which could be inquired into so far as building societies are concerned. I believe that the time might come when the Parliament could have a general feeling of acquiescence about the need to set up proper processes whereby the matter referred to and a lot of other associated matters could come under very careful scrutiny.

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