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Friday, 25 May 1973
Page: 2717

Mr SCHOLES (Corio) - When the sitting of the House was suspended for the luncheon adjournment I was drawing attention to some of the comments which have been made about the present negotiations being carried on over a new housing agreement. It seems that the major complaint, apart from a lot of mock hysteria, is that it is proposed in the new agreement that a certain number of houses should be made availble to people who require houses for rent. The Victorian Government, for instance, is complaining bitterly that it will be required to offer for rent 50 per cent of the houses constructed under the terms of the proposed agreement. It is, I think, contrary to the previous policy of the Victorian Government to offer houses for rent. It not only has a policy of home ownership, as I said, but pursues a policy of compulsory home ownership. People are compelled to buy houses if they want accommodation.

In most areas at present it is possible to purchase a home from the Housing Commission after a much shorter waiting period than is required to obtain a house for rental, lt has been often repeated that the Commission sells houses to tenants. Whilst tenants may purchase the houses in which they live, the majority of Housing Commission home sales are made over the counter in exactly the same way as is done by any other major house seller in Australia. The Victorian Housing Commission has not built a house specifically for rental purposes in my electorate in the last 14 years - not a single house. The result is that the number of houses available for rental has dropped from 3,500 to slightly less than 2,100 during a period when the population of the area has doubled. With a large percentage of the rental accommodation available occupied by deserted wives, widows and persons who are moving into the elderly character, the rental accommodation available to the population is extremly small.

One of the purposes of welfare housing or subsidised housing surely must be to provide housing for persons who have great difficulty in purchasing a home. In the Geelong area in recent times it has been possible to purchase a home after waiting for about 6 months, but if somebody wishes to rent a home from the Housing Commission the waiting period is some 2 years, depending upon whether a 2 bedroom or 3 bedroom home is sought. This situation exists not only in that area but also in the metropolitan area of Melbourne where possibly it is even worse. In Melbourne people who suggest that they do not want to buy a home are offered accommodation on the 30th floor of a concrete prison, where their children will see a blade of grass only once a week and where a mother cannot attend her children - they are left to play all day in corridors - and where there are all the other accompanying problems.

One of the results of the negotiations which have taken place on this occasion is that the Commonwealth has refused to fund further high rise development. Therefore the Victorian Government now has acknowledged that it will not build any more. I am sure that it will not do so as it does not have the money to pay for them. Possibly there is no worse feature of housing policy in Australia than the concrete monstrosities which are appearing in the centres of our cities. They not only are poor housing, they have a tremendous effect on the morale of the communities that have to live in them. It has been the policy of the Victorian Government to offer people the choice of a concrete monstrosity or to buy a house, whether they can afford it or not.

Also there are people who cannot buy a house because they are excluded from doing so under the terms on which Housing Commission houses are sold. There is a maximum income limit. I do not quarrel with that idea; if the Government is providing subsidised housing I think it is not unreasonable that a maximum be set. The Victorian Government has a maximum which possibly is too low rather than too high. One cannot quarrel with that. But there is also a minimum income involved. If a man's income is below a certain level he cannot purchase a Housing Commission home in Victoria. If the person concerned is over a certain age he can purchase a home only if he undertakes to meet half the market value before reaching the age of 65 years. It is not always easy to pay that sum. If the person concerned has an income of under $80 a week and is in his mid-fifties and without capital to meet that requirement, it is not a question of whether he would like to own his own home but a question of whether he can do so. If a person cannot meet the requirements he cannot have his own home. These people are totally excluded from occupancy of a house. No houses are built by the Victorian Government for rental in most areas and these people are offered accommodation in concrete monstrosities.

Time is running short, Mr Speaker, and it is the wish of the House to proceed with this Bill. I could say a lot more about present housing policies. I believe it is quite proper that people whose income and position is such that they cannot afford to buy a house should be given some form of accommodation. I disagree totally with the philosophy expressed repeatedly on the Opposition side of the House that people who cannot afford to buy a house are not entitled to live anywhere.

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