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Tuesday, 21 August 1973
Page: 14

Mr Keith Johnson (BURKE, VICTORIA) -My question is addressed to the Minister for Housing. Is he aware of a statement made by the Victorian Minister of Housing, Mr Dickie, that Housing Commission rents will rise by $3 a week, that pensioner tenants' rents will rise savagely and that these increases have been forced upon the Victorian Government by the Federal Government because of the terms of the recently concluded Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement? Did Mr Dickie indicate at any time before or during the conference that rents for Housing Commission tenants and /or pensioners in Victoria would rise after the Victorian State elections?

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) -I think the simple answer is that the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement has not yet been signed. The Victorian Minister has announced his intention to increase the rents of 45,000 tenants by, I think, $3 a week prior to the Agreement being signed. In the Agreement there is a provision requiring the States to review rents annually. I took the view that this was desirable rather than having a triennial approach to the problem which resulted in people being required to meet large increases in rents. I do not disparage the fact that the Victorian Minister has found it necessary to increase rents. What I do disparage is his tendency to blame the Commonwealth Government, particularly in the light of the proposed Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. As I understand it he is attempting to mislead the Victorian people by asking them to believe that it is because of the new Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement that the rents are to be increased. The fact of the matter is that under this Agreement the allocation of funds has gone up to $2 18m as against $166m for the previous year. Victoria's allocation has been increased from $39m to $53m at a concessional rate of 4 per cent instead of the 6 per cent which would have been paid if the Agreement had not been introduced. In any case, under this agreement, the Victorian Government has received everything it has asked for. Without this agreement the tenants in Victorian Housing Commission homes would be subjected to a much greater rental than is proposed at present. I feel very sorry that the Victorian Housing Minister is continuing to misconstrue the facts associated with this agreement. I think that he ought to face up to the matter as the New South Wales Government does. He is saying now that the Victorians ought to cut even. The fact is that in New South Wales the Housing Commission has been subsidising rents to the extent of $2.5m or more a year in order to ensure that low income people are not subjected to a rental rate which exceeds their paying capacity.

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