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Wednesday, 17 October 1973
Page: 2237

Mr BENNETT (SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Housing and Minister for Works. Have all the States yet signed the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement? If not. when does the Minister expect this to happen? Now that the bond rate has risen to 8.5 per cent per annum does the new Agreement represent any real saving to people paying rents on housing commission dwellings built with money provided under the Agreement? When the Agreement is finally signed by all the States will any appreciable financial benefit flow to people borrowing for home building from terminating building societies compared with those borrowing on the open loan market?

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is true that not all States have yet signed the CommonwealthState Housing Agreement. Nevertheless, I am pleased to say that in about 5 minutes time, at midday, the last State, Western Australia, will be signing the Agreement thus giving legal effect to this historic document which fulfils the undertakings of the Australian Labor Party to give a better deal in housing for low income earners. The honourable gentleman has asked me about the effects of the Agreement on rents and housing loan repayments for people so affected. The last Government was able to expend only $163m in 1972-73 on the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement. I am pleased to say that this Agreement lifts the amount to be expended to $2 18m. If we had not entered into a new agreement, at the present time we would be charging the States an interest rate of 7i per cent. Instead we are charging 4 per cent. The resultant savings for people renting housing commission homes are quite considerable. Every time the rate of interest goes up by i per cent for the average house costing $14,000 there is an increase in rent of approximately $5 a month. If this Agreement had not been introduced - that is, if we were still operating under the agreement brought in by the previous Government - the average increase in rent for housing commission tenants would be $8 a week. I am pleased to say that those people have been saved from that imposition. The last aspect of the question concerned the terminating building societies. People who are able to purchase homes through the home builders' account will be paying an interest rate of 5i per cent, which is again another very appreciable advantage.

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