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Wednesday, 19 September 1973
Page: 1239

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Housing) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill is to authorise the Treasurer -(Mr Crean) to make advances not exceeding $327.975m to the States for welfare housing during 1973-74 and the first 6 months of 1974-75, in accordance with the provisions of the 1973 Housing Agreement. At its meeting last June, the Premiers' Conference decided on a program of $2 IS. 65m for welfare housing by the States for 1973-74, to be distributed among the States as shown in the first column of the schedule to the Bill. The Bill also provides for advances to be made to the States during the initial months of 1974-75, equivalent to one half of the advances agreed for 1973-74, as indicated in the second column of the schedule to the Bill. The amount of $218. 65m to be advanced to the States in 1973-74 represents an increase of 26 per cent on the amount spent by the States on welfare housing in 1972-73.

The repayable, interest-bearing advances will, as circumstances dictate, be made from either the Consolidated Revenue Fund or the Loan Fund and will be on the terms and conditions set out in the Agreement to be made between the Commonwealth and each State, as authorised by the Housing Agreement Act 1973. Provision is made for any payments out of Consolidated Revenue Fund for this purpose to be reimbursed in due course from Loan Fund where the Treasurer considers this appropriate. The 1973 Housing Agreement now awaits formal ratification by the States before becoming operative for 5 years from 1 July 1973. Because advances to a State for welfare housing cannot be made until the Agreement is ratified by the State Parliament, funds for this purpose are being provided by way of advances supplementary to the advances made for works purposes under the approved Loan Council program, until such time as the authorising legislation has become effective. The Bill, therefore, contains a provision authorising the Treasurer, with the concurrence of the State, to deem any such advances made against a State's loan program for 1973-74 to have been advances for welfare housing.

The greatest proportion of the $218.65m to be advanced to the States in 1973-74 will be paid to State housing authorities; the remainder - about 30 per cent - will be made available through home builders' accounts to terminating building societies and similar institutions in each State for loans to needy people seeking to acquire their own home. The advances made to the States under the Housing Agreement are repayable over a period of 53 years and bear interest at the rate of 4 per cent per annum on the proportion made available to the State housing authorities and at the rate of 41/2 per cent per annum on the proportion made available to terminating building societies and similar institutions through the home builders' accounts. I commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr Street) adjourned.

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