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Tuesday, 4 December 1973
Page: 4182

Mr ASHLEY-BROWN (MITCHELL, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to the Minister for Housing and Construction. Is there any information to show a sharp deterioration in housing construction in Australia? If so, what can be done about arresting this trend?

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - There is no indication of any sharp deterioration in housing construction in Australia. I think the last information given by the Commonwealth Statistician to throw light on this situation is in respect of building approvals for the month of October. The stark figure gives a denial of any contention to the effect that there is any deterioration, in that the increase in approvals for October was 8 per cent. It is interesting to note that approvals in the government sector increased by 57 per cent over those for the month of September. This is more gratifying when it is realised that those approvals were in respect of houses for low income people. The total value of building work approved in October was the highest on record - $462m, of which government approvals accounted for SI 04m, also a record. There is an understandable tendency for people engaged in the construction industry to cry wolf, sometimes prematurely. There is no question that the Government is applying the policy announced by the Treasurer involving moderate abatement, and I imagine that there will be a little tightening up in the near future and that this will be in evidence. All that can be done is to maximise the work force. It is the declared intention of this Government to keep our building construction force working to the maximum possible limit. After that, of course, we intend to bring more stability to the building industry by way of legislation which the Treasurer proposes to introduce in the next session.

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