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Wednesday, 20 November 1974
Page: 2597

Senator STEELE HALL (South AustraliaLeader of the Liberal Movement) - As a representative of a State that has had a great deal of pride in its home building programs in the past I should like to speak for a short while to this Bill. My State has been involved over the years in construction of very significant recognisable communities within its borders, especially in the city of Elizabeth to the north of Adelaide and in the constantly growing industrial area of Whyalla on Spencers Gulf. This program of home building in South Australia reached its peak in the year 1960-61, when the number of homes completed by the Housing Trust in South Australia reached the all-time record of 3,299. That figure includes the number of homes and flats which were completed in that year. Since that time South Australia has grown significantly as an industrial base and in relation to its total population. Yet last year, 1973-74, the number of houses and flats completed by the Housing Trust in South Australia showed not an increase beyond 3,299 but a decrease to the very low figure of 1,321. So in South Australia we have seen a very real decline in absolute terms in the number of home units and houses completed by the State housing authority. That decline has accelerated substantially under the management of a State Labor Government, and it is very much to the discredit of the Dunstan Government's administration that home building in South Australia has fallen to such a low figure.

It is a rather peculiar fact that while this has occurred the Premier of South Australia has continued to publicise his housing programs. In his election policy speech in 1973 the Premier spoke proudly of house building under government auspices in South Australia. In the relevant part of his speech he said:

We have spent record amounts on public housing- in fact, twice the national average.

No one would deny that. However, the problem for Mr Dunstan is that while he spends a record amount on public housing- in fact, twice the national average- he does not produce the homes. For all his great publicity machine on the 11th floor of the Government administration building in South Australia he cannot twist the statistics even though he may try to hypnotise the public over whom he presides.

Senator Cavanagh - Will you quote those figures?

Senator STEELE HALL - I will supply to the Minister further quotations of figures which will give the gradations of decline in the situation in my State, a situation which I very greatly regret. The Premier of South Australia, after claiming the expenditure of a record amount of money on homes, went on to say:

Assistance from the Federal Labor Government means that we will increase this achievement markedly.

Mr Deputy President,he certainly needs to increase it markedly. He went on:

We will set new records in providing public housing.

One major new project will be the immediate commencement of a scheme to provide pre-fabricated rental housing of high standard in park settings. This will occur on transportcorridor land not required for fifteen years. In addition, to lessen transport costs and to provide greater choice in lowcost housing, we will build workers' housing in city and inner suburban areas.

He then had a very strange heading to this particular part of his policy speech: 'Housing: ACTU '. His speech continued:

We have previously used State-owned land to induce investment and development by non-governmental organisations. At West Lakes this is already providing housing. A similar scheme is under way at North Haven.

As a continuation of this policy, we will over a period n-ake up to 300 acres of land in the Noarlunga area available to the Australian Council of Trade Unions to use for low-cost worker housing.

At that particular period Mr Hawke made a statement of a companion nature on the ACTU's intention to build houses in the Noarlunga area of South Australia. It is rather significant, is it not, that after the election Mr Hawke, when questioned again, said: 'We have changed our minds. We now think we will go to an area around Sydney.' So much for Mr Dunstan 's bright and brand-new program for great record housing figures in South Australia, because the situation under his management, when studied from the point of view that I am elucidating, will not bear very close scrutiny. I advise the Minister, as he is obviously part of a government which is becoming fairly generous in relation to certain particular fundings of housing projects, to look at the Government in his own State to see where the money is going.

Senator Cavanagh - You quote the Housing Trust figures.

Senator STEELE HALL - I have quoted the Housing Trust figures. I am dealing with figures of specific continuity which will stand up to scrutiny. The high spot in South Australian public housing was reached in 1960-61 when 3,299 units, flats and houses were completed. That figure was maintained in a general way until 1966-67, which was the last year in which the figure topped the 3,000 mark. That was the first real year of Labor Government in South Australia after the defeat of the Playford administration in 1965. It was really the completion of the last planning year under the Playford administration. It could be fairly claimed to be the end of government forward planning in the housing field under the Playford administration. Significantly it was the last year in which more than 3,000 units were completed. In 1967-68, which of course was the first real year of Labor administration in South Australia for 33 years, the figure had dropped significantly from 3,100 units to 2,236 units. The Minister would recognise that a drop of 900 units from 3, 100 units in one year is an extremely significant drop.

Senator Cavanagh - Of Housing Trust homes.

Senator STEELE HALL - Yes, exactly. However, the drop in the figure continued in 1968-69, which was the first year's operation of another government. That year could be fairly claimed to be the last of the 3-year period of Labor planning in the field of housing. The Walsh Labor Government and finally the Dunstan Labor Government of early 1968, left such a hole in South Australia's finances that it took several years of careful management by the new government before the finances of South Australia could in any way be expanded to take up the slack that had been created by the previous 3 years of Labor administration. However, leaving the years 1968-69 and 1969-70, which were the recuperative years under a Liberal-Country League government following 3 years of Labor administration, we find that there was an increase in the number of dwellings completed in 1 970-7 1 , which was the last real planning year of that 2-year non-Labor Government. The figure rose again to 2,200 completed units. However, in 1970 the Liberal-Country League Government was defeated and Labor again took over.

In the short space of 4 years we saw an automatic and almost graduated decline from the figure of 2,200 units completed in 1970-71 which, as I have said, could be fairly claimed to be the result of the planning of the non-Labor government. Immediately the new effective planning year of Labor began to show results the figure dropped to 2,175 units. I admit that was a small drop, but then the dramatic drop began. The figure fell to 1,625 units in 1972-73 and to 1,321 units in 1973-74. Mr Dunstan in his policy speech claims that in our State of South Australia he has spent twice the national average on housing, and in support of that he produces a figure which will soon approach one-third of the record public housing figure which was proudly achieved as far back as 13 years before the period to which I have referred.

It was a disgraceful performance in South Australia that a Labor administration which was handed on a plate the most efficient public housing authority which this nation has produced and which was the envy of other States has degraded that authority to such an extent that it is producing perhaps one-third of the number of units that it produced previously. It is a mere shadow of itself, yet Mr Dunstan claims a record expenditure on housing. I agree that he can spend money but naturally, being part of a socialist administration, he does not produce results. I invite the Minister to study carefully what is going on in South Australia because his Government has been duped in a larger measure than was provided for in the general year to year housing agreement which was negotiated at Premiers Conferences and which is now provided for under the new arrangements.

Senator Webster - They want to be duped.

Senator STEELE HALL -This Government has been very seriously duped and, in the process, the South Austraiian people, as well as the general taxpayers of Australia, will be the losers. This has happened because this Government has supported the development of the so-called new city of Monarto. The South Australian Labor Government decided to have an alternate growth centre, for Adelaide and it made an examination of sites around the city of Adelaide in a 40 to 50-mile radius. It deliberately chose the most arid area that it could find in that 40 to 50-mile radius. It has decided to build the new town of Monarto on a wind-swept hillside to the north-west of Murray Bridge which is in the hottest area that one could find in that region of the State. The South Austraiian Government talks of new forests, ornamental lakes and grand schemes for beautification until one can only believe that this area will be developed on the same grand scale as Canberra. Yet we hear talk of economic expenditure in public housing.

One thing that has occurred with this aspect of the development of Monarto which should have been very foreign to a Labor administration is that for the first time in South Australia's history workers will be conscripted to go to live and work in Monarto. I should like the Minister to realise that under the housing policy which his Government supports in the development of Monarto workers in South Australia are to be conscripted by the State Government- in the words of the Premier- to go to live and work in Monarto. The personnel of the Lands Department and the Department of Agriculture in South Australia will have to uproot themselves from their social environment in Adelaide, shift to Monarto and live there or else they will not have their jobs.

Senator McLaren - You know that is not correct. You are telling untruths.

Senator STEELE HALL -This was stated in the words of the Premier of South Australia. It is no wonder that Labor senators from South Australia have been duped by their own Premier. He stated in the House of Assembly in South Australia that these workers cannot remain in Adelaide and keep their jobs.

Senator McLaren - He has not said that at all.

Senator STEELE HALL -He has said it. By interjection the honourable senator is either trying to introduce untruths into this debate or he is ignorant of the situation. I advise him to study Hansard and to question his own Premier. He has been more duped than I thought he was by the silver tongue of an orator who has not produced one worthy project on behalf of South Australia, except grand public relations that are managed from the 1 1th floor of a building by a battery of electronic devices. I urge this Government to watch very carefully the expenditure of the many millions of dollars that it has already provided to back the development of Monarto in those wind-swept paddocks. It should ensure that this project is subjected to the same study that the Redcliffs project on the shores of Spencer Gulf has been subjected to by a Commonwealth inquiry, and I will speak about that matter in another debate. But I congratulate the Commonwealth for the exhaustive study that it made of the Redcliffs project in respect of which the Dunstan administration was trying to mislead not only its own public but also the Minister's Government. If this Government applies the same standards to Monarto as it applied to the Redcliffs project it will get the same answerthe project is not viable. There is very serious public concern in South Australia that many millions of dollars of public money will be wasted.

I come back to the Bill. Not only will we witness a further decline in the number of houses completed, to the extent that I have illustrated here tonight, but we will find that the provision of housing will be a great deal more expensive because of the type of funding which we are considering tonight. Monarto would be the most expensive area to make habitable that one could find within a 50-mile radius of Adelaide. Of course, Adelaide itself will be bled white by this expensive white elephant, and the Minister is supporting it by the provision of many millions of dollars by way of additional special grants. I urge him before it is too late to read carefully the volume of material which is now emanating from South Australia and to make sure that the funds that we are providing tonight are not wasted in Mr Dunstan 's adventure at Monarto.

Senator Cavanagh - You hope it fails.

Senator STEELE HALL - It is not a matter of hoping that if fails. Everyone knows that Monarto will not live by itself. Everyone in South Australia who has considered the area knows that it will become a distant dormitory area for Adelaide. Of course Adelaide has developed a marvellous situation in relation to transport. In that city one can still build on a block of land and travel comfortably to the centre of the city for the performance of one's work every day. That most marvellous facility of travel is now to have superimposed on it a new creation which will be 40 miles away over the local range of hills and mountains at Monarto. Obviously in very great measure it will still be a dormitory area for Adelaide. It is obvious to any student of city development that the great overflow of population in Adelaide should go to the south, to the Noarlunga area and further down to the Willunga area, where living conditions are amenable and where it would cost to establish a living unit possibly less than three-quarters of what it would cost in Monarto. Tonight I am speaking, as I said at the beginning, on behalf of a State which had the proud record of being the most efficient home builder through its public funds of any State in this country. We have fallen to one of the worst. The reason is clearly available to us in the statistics. The fall coincided exactly with the planning years of Labor in South Australia. Now we have a government which has literally gone off its planning head. It is obvious that not only will it use Commonwealth money which in the future will be directed to Monarto but also, and above all, it is conscripting workers in South Australia to Monarto by saying: 'If you do not move there you will no longer have your job with this Government.' This is a disgrace in the face of Australia. It is a blot on South Australia's past magnificent housing record.

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