10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon Sir John Newlands) took the chair at3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I should like to know from the Leader of the Government in the Senate, when I am likely to be supplied with the information for which I asked two months ago relative to the coat of the different boards and commissions appointed by the present Government?
– I shall endeavour to expedite the presentation of the return.
– I should like to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate if his attention has been drawn to a statement which appeared in the Sydney press last week and was reported toh ave emanated from Senator Guthrie to the effect that Federal members of Parliament had nothing to do but to sit. back in easy chairs. In view of the fact that Senator Guthrie is an advocate of payment by results and seeing that he has attended Parliament for two days only since its re-assembling at Canberra
– Order ! The honorable member is going beyond what is allowed in asking a question.
-Will the Government make inquiries and see that Senator Guthrie is paid by results. His salary for the two days on whichhe has attended here works out at the rate of £60 per ‘day.
– Order !
– I do not wish to appeal discourteous to Senator Graham but I draw attention to the fact that the first part of his question - apparently the only part of it allowed by the President’s ruling - is founded upon a statement in a newspaper which also is not permitted.
– I did not hear Senator Graham quoting from a newspaper. His question was couched in proper form inasmuch as he merely asked whether the Minister had seen a certain statement in a newspaper.
– In that case my reply is that I have not seen the statement referred to.
The following papers - were pre sented : -
Development and Migration Act. - Development and Migration Commission - First annual report for period ended 30th June, 1 927.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act. - Ordinance No. 19 of 1927 - Police.
Seat of Government (Administration) Act. - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1927,No. 133.
Tariff Board Act. - Tariff Board’s Reports and Recommendations -
Amendment of Tariff Item 417 (B) (“Any article which has been bequeathed or donated to the public or to any public institution”).
Articles and Personal Effects owned by Consuls.
Catalogues and Price Lists.
Fibre Cases or Containers.
Hoodlights for Motor Cars.
Kit Bag Frames, Attache and Suit Case pins, Barrel and Socket Bolts.
Panchromatic Plates for Process Engravers.
Prismatic Compasses; Surveyors’ Clinometer Compasses : Clinometers.
Pyrene Fire Extinguishers and Liquid for Refilling Extinguishers.
Raisins and Dates.
Vegetables - Tomatoes.
Formal Motion for Adjournment
– I have received a communication from Senator Needham intimating that . in accordance with Standing Order64 (1) he intends to move the adjournment of the Senate to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz. : - “ The influx of Southern Europeans into Australia.” Is the motion supported?
Three honorable senators, together with the mover, having risen in their placesto support the motion.
– In accordance with the letter I have forwarded to the President, I move -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn till 10 o’clock a.m. on Monday 28th November .
– I rise to a point of order. A motion for adjournment in order to discuss matter of urgent public importance must be supported by four honorable senators rising in their places.
– The motion must be supported by four honorable senators and the mover.
– Would you, Mr. President, kindly read the Standing Order?
-Standing Order 64 (1) reads as follows: -
A motion without notice, that the Senate at its rising adjourn to any day or’ hour other than that fixed for the next ordinary meeting of the Senate for the purpose of de- bating some matter of urgency, can only be made after petitions have been presented and Notices of Questions and Motions given, and before the business of the day is proceeded with, and such motion can be made notwithstanding there be on the paper a motion for adjournment to a time other than that of the next ordinary meeting. The Senator so moving must make in writing, and hand in to the President, a. statement of the matter of urgency. Such motion must be supported by four senators rising in their places as indicating their approval thereof. . . .
The motion, not having been supported by four honorable senators, cannot be moved.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Whether any consideration has been given by the Government to the question of assisting in the development of the fishing industry?
– Yes. On the recommendation of the Development and Migration Commission, the Government convened a conference which was held in Melbourne on the 16th to 20th September last to discuss the development of the fishing and allied industries in Australia. Representatives of all the States other than Western Australia attended, together with representatives of the Development and Migration Commission and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The question of the development of Australian fisheries was exhaustively discussed and several committees were appointed to inquire into various phases of the industry. At a later date the conference will be again assembled, when the reports of the committees will be considered with a view to the submission of recommendations to the Commonwealth and State Governments in regard to the further development of the fishing and allied industries.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Motion (by Senator McLachlan) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
– I remind honorable senators, and particularly those who occupy seats on the Treasury bench, that the bill which is about to be read a third time is different from that which first came before us for discussion. It has been changed most vitally, because of the persistence and stubborn opposition of honorable senators sitting in opposition here and in another place. It is just as well to refresh the memory of honorable senators, and emphasize the fact, if emphasis is necessary, that a vigilant and determined opposition, although small in numbers, may sometimes accomplish very much. I. venture to remind the Minister in charge of the bill that he himself realized that he had to back down.
The Ministry has made a complete volte face in connexion with a vital principle of the bill. When the measure was introduced in another place, it contained a provision for the separation of the savings bank branch from the general business of the Commonwealth Bank, because the directors of the bank, so it was stated, could not efficiently administer the housing scheme. Members of the opposition pointed out, however, that the duties of the board would not be of an onerous nature because all that the bill contemplated was the raising of a sum of £20,000,000 to assist citizens of Australia in receipt of a certain salary to secure homes of their own. In other words, the bill proposed that the directors of the Commonwealth Bank should be in the position of lenders of money to certain State authorities in whom would be vested the responsibility of building the houses and repaying the amount advanced together with interest. The honorable the Treasurer - he has been aptly described as the tragic Treasurer -stated definitelythat members of the board had been consulted concerning the proposed housing scheme, and that they had expressed the view that they would not be able to carry out the duties required of them under that scheme, without the separation of the two branches of the bank. We urged, however, that the scheme would not involve any increase of responsibility, that no increase in the staff would be necessary, and, further, that the proposed separation of the savings bank branch from the general business of the bank would, if agreed to, lower the prestige and usefulness of that national institution. With that object in view, we strenuouslyopposed the second reading of . the bill. At that stage the Government had another consultation with the board of directors. I do not know whether the directors sought the interview or whether the overtures were made by the Ministry; but the fact remains that another consultation was held. Subsequently, the Treasurer announced, in another place, that an amendment would be made to the bill in the Senate to provide that the savings bank branch of the bank should not be divorced from the general business of the bank. Originally it was proposed to hand over the housing scheme to a commission. This Government has always shown a disposition to appoint royal commissions and boards on the slightest opportunity.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - Order! The honorable gentleman is now discussing a matter outside the scope of the bill. I must ask him to confine his remarks to the motion for the third reading of the measure.
– I propose to advance reasons why the bill should not be read a third time. The duties of the proposed commission, as was pointed out during the second-reading debate on the bill, would have been to lend the money to certain authorities in the respective States. The bill has since been amended, and we are given to understand now that the commission will not be appointed. The Government has completely backed down in the face of criticism against its proposal. It has retreated under cover of a barrage to be found in clause S. In the circumstances the Honorary Minister (Senator McLachlan) should ask for a recommittal of the bill to permit of the excision of all proposed sections after 35 e. It is obvious that the Government placed the directors of the Commonwealth Bank in an entirely false position. It is not now the intention of the Government to appoint a commission. It affords us some satisfaction to know that the bill emerged from committee in this chamber in a form different from that in which it came to us from another place, and for some considerable time to come, the Commonwealth Bank will not be rendered any more ineffective than it is because the savings bank branch will continue to be part and parcel of it.
Senator McLACHLAN (South Australia[ 3.36] . - There are two observations in the honorable senator’s remarks with which I agree. The opposition to the bill has been consistent, and it has been stubborn. It is, however, beyond my comprehension why honorable senators should endeavour to aggrandize the importance of the criticism directed against themeasure by honorable senators opposite, and should so greatly magnify what is, after all, a matter of minor detail. The importing provision of the bill is chat proposing to bring about the separation of the savings bank branch from the general business of the bank, and that was passed without one word of protest from the formidable four or five honorable senators opposite. The amendment upon which my honorable friend laid so much stress this afternoon is merely part of the machinery. The proposal was to entrust the administration of the housing scheme to a commission. Now it is to be carried out by the directors of the Commonwealth Bank. Where, then, is the amazing change of front to which the honorable senator refers? What does it matter if at one time the directors of the bank said they were not prepared to undertake that work, but are willing to do it now? The machinery clauses of the bill are intact, and probably as Senator Grant said, the time will come when it will be necessary to vest, this scheme ill a commission, because, 1 can assure the honorable senator that the bill will enable the bank to work hand in hand with the housing scheme, with the assistance of existing State instrumentalities. The honorable senator has attached undue importance to the amendment of the bill. It is not vital to the measure at all. The proposed new sections 35 and 35a bring about the statutory separation of the two branches of the bank, and an earlier provision will enable the accounts of both to be published together, so that the actual position of the two branches may be ascertained.
Question - That the bill be now read a third time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 18th November (vide page 1627), on motion by Senator Sir William Glasgow -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– No party, whether in municipal, State, or federal spheres, has clone more to awaken the public conscience in respect of the housing question than has the Labour party. It can truthfully be said that, as the result of that party’s effort, thousands of persons in different parts of Australia are to-day living in their own homes. Before the Labour party became an active force in the politics of this country unionism was anathema to most employers. Their creed was “ freedom of contract.” They contended that labour was a commodity, and as such it should be governed by the law of supply and demand. The result was that sweating existed in every trade and calling. So deplorable were the conditions at that time that it was impossible for the average working man to purchase even the necessaries of life, much less to make provision for a home for himself and his family. However, by the persistent and consistent activities of the Labour party, the position of the average worker throughout Australia is much better today than it was in the period to which I have referred. He has a much greater chance of obtaining a home for himself and his family now than he had then. At the last election the Government announced its intention to introduce a housing scheme to cost £20,000,000. It led the people to believe that its scheme would be bigger, better, and more liberal than any of the housing schemes of the States. In that wayit secured a number of votes. But what do we find? Its so-called housing scheme is not a housbuilding scheme at all; it is a “jerrybuilt” scheme of the worst kind. It has little or no foundation. What has the
Government done to provide a groundwork for this scheme? It has not consulted with any of the State authorities.
SenatorCox. - The Government is providing the money.
– This so-called scheme cannot be put into operation until the State Governments have amended their legislation. One would think that if the Government was anxious to assist the people to obtain homes, it would first have entered into negotiations with the authorities in the several States. But it did nothing of the kind. Instead, it in effect said to them : “ The Government proposes to introduce a bill to provide for a housing scheme. If you want to participate, you may do so provided you first pass certain amending legislation, and that you are prepared to undertake the work involved.” The Government itself does not propose to build even one house. To do so would bo to enter the domain of private enterprise. Moreover, for the Government to embark upon such a scheme would be to contravene the Constitution. Nevertheless, the people were misled into believing that the Government intended to go in for house building. I do not think that such a measure has ever previously been introduced into any Parliament.
– Does the honorable senator think that the States will reject the scheme?
– There is no evidence that they will accept it. At least one State will not be very enthusiastic about it. The Minister, when introducing the measure, said that the census of 1921 showed that only 40 per cent, of the homes in Ausralia were owned by their occupiers, that 12 per cent, were being purchased on the instalment system, and that the remainder were occupied by persons who paid rent . to landlords. I do not question the correctness of his statement, but I remind honorable senators that six years have passed since those figures were obtained. In the meantime, many changes have taken place. In 1921, and for some time thereafter, there was anacute shortage of houses in all the States. In consequence of that shortage there was a building boom throughout Australia. All persons engaged in the building trade were then fully employed. I well remember the present Leader of the Government in this chamber expressing a desire to import artisans, because of the shortage of labour in the building trade. At that time I expressed the opinion that the’ boom was of a temporary nature, and that there was no necessity to import artisans. The demand for houses was so great from 1921 until about two years ago, that many houses in Melbourne and suburbs were sold before the roofs were placed on them. Many men engaged in the house and land agency business did exceptionally well. A “ To Let “ notice was indeed a rare sight. A person who went to a land agent to obtain a house to rent was not taken seriously. We know that high premiums were paid for the keys of vacant houses by those who desired to secure occupation, but in every suburb of Melbourne there are now large numbers of houses for sale and to let. During the period to which I first referred there were no vacant houses, and new houses being erected were sold before the roof was on. During that time there were very few advertisements in the daily press of houses to let or for sale. In the Age, which has probably the largest circulation of any daily newspaper in Victoria, and certainly has the greatest number of small advertisements, there were then not more than a few inches each day devoted to advertisements of houses and land for sale. But last Saturday I noticed that thirteen columns were devoted to small advertisements under that heading, while under the heading of “Houses and laud to let,” there were nearly five columns. This shows that the acute shortage of houses to which the Minister referred has no application to-day as for as Victoria is concerned. Moreover, the State Savings Bank of Victoria has done much to further house building, and its scheme is a liberal one. That instititution, if it is created an authority under this act, will not, in my opinion, be too anxious to undertake some of the business contemplated by the Government. Under the bill it is proposed to advance up to 90 per cent. ; that is to say, on every £100 value £90 will be advanced. Compare that with the scheme at present in operation under the State Savings
Bank in Victoria. For wooden houses, costing up to £850, the intending housebuilder is required to pay down only £50, but if he came under this so-called liberal scheme of the Commonwealth, he would have to pay down £85. The intending builder in Victoria can build a brick house costing £950 on a £50 deposit; but under the Commonwealth scheme he would have to find £95 on a similar house. That deposit also provides for purchasing the land. The Treasurer made a statement that the States were handicapped because of a shortage of money, and were unable, for that reason, to proceed rapidly with house building. Again I say that statement is not true as far as Victoria is concerned. Building operations are not hampered there because of any shortage of money. Recently there was introduced and passed in the Victorian Legislative Assembly an amendment of the Housing Bill authorizing the building of wooden houses to a value of £1,000, and of brick houses to a. value of £1,800. Intending house-builders may have either a £1,000 house or a £1,300 house built for them for a deposit of only £50, but under the Commonwealth scheme it would be necessary to pay down £100 for a £1,000 house, and £130 for a £1,300 house. But that is not the whole story. The Commonwealth scheme makes no provision for those with families. The Labour party is always anxious to do its best to help those with families. Under the new Victorian scheme a man with two children is allowed a reduction of £5 per child on the deposit which he is required to pay on a house costing up to £1,300. That reduces his deposit to £40. If he has four children his deposit is reduced to £30, and if he has five children the deposit is still further reduced to £25.
– And what if he has ten children?
– The maximum is five children. No further reductions are made for children in excess of that number.
– That is a restriction on families.
– I wish some scheme as fair as that were introduced in this chamber. It would have the wholehearted support of honorable senators on this side. Further, the Victorian State Savings Banks discourages land booming, and it protects the interests of those who intend to build. The nab issuketaoininn intend to build. The bank issues this warning from its head-office in Elizabeth street, Melbourne : -
Do not buy land without first consulting the bank. We advise you not to sign any contract or pay any deposit until the bank has approved of the purchase. The bank will not take over land purchased within six months of the date of application if the price paid is in excess of the bank’s estimate of value.
Is that not good advice to intending house builders ?
– That is not in the act; that is a regulation.
– No regulation can contravene the act, as we know. But this is not a regulation; it is an instruction issued by the bank itself.
– What is to stop the Commonwealth Government from framing similar regulations?
– This Government could not do the same thing, because it is not going in for house-building. The Savings Bank in Victoria not only protects the purchaser of land from exploitation, but also takes care that the land selected shall be suitable for building. It watches carefully over the interests of the intending builder from first to last. The suitability of the land for building purposes is as important as that the price paid should he reasonable. The bank also provides plans and specifications for the building, and sees that it is not jerry-built. Its architects supervise the building of the homes. Under that system thousands of houses have been built in Victoria during the last few years. Honorable senators from other States can inform the Senate what is being done in their States in connexion with home-building. I am satisfied that the working man in Victoria who desires a house costing anything from £850 to £1,300 will, under no circumstances, touch the present Commonwealth proposal, because he will be much better off under the State scheme. If Victoria is to take over the building of homes costing more than the £1,300, it will be necessary for the Commonwealth, first of all, to obtain the consent of the State Government and of the State authority, which in this case is the State Savings Bank. The latter institution will then be administering two schemes, one the very liberal scheme at present in operation, and the other the Commonwealth scheme designed to meet the requirements of those who are in receipt of salaries up to £12 per week.
– What are the restrictions in Victoria in regard to salary?
– The limit fixed there is £400 a year.
– Is that why the honorable senator is criticizing this measure?
– My wish is to see every man, no matter what his salary, in possession of a home of his own. I am, however, more concerned about the breadandbutterman than about the man in receipt of a comfortable salary. I want to see the man on £4 a week in his own home. The man on £12 a week has, for the most part, already made provision for himself. That is shown by the fact that many of the Government servants transferred from Victoria to Canberra have had their houses placed in the auctioneer’s hands. Incidentally, this provides another proof that there is not at present a house shortage in Melbourne. In the Age the other day it was stated that the homes of ten public servants were submitted to auction, and though there was keen competition for them, only seven out of the ten homes were sold. Public servants in receipt of £12 a week, who have been transferred to Canberra, will probably derive some advantage from this scheme. I understand that there have been difficulties in the way of getting building propositions financed here in the past, but if this bill is intended only to meet the requirements of men in receipt of £12 a week, there was no need to introduce it. The Federal Commission is in possession of very wide powers, and it could could easily have been given further powers to enable it to finance the building of houses for public servants in the Territory. It has been said that those who to-day live in their own homes are paying high rates of interest for the accommodation that has been provided by private institutions. I believe that statement to be correct. The Labour party has always set its face against exploitation, whether it be in the realms of finance or in any other sphere of activity. But it is an extraordinary circumstance that this Government, which claims to be the upholder of private enterprise, now proposes to fight tooth and claw those private financial institutions which are charging too high a rate of interest. That will be a goodmove if it leads to easier conditions for those whose circumstances necessitate their seeking accommodation from those institutions. We have been informed that loans will be made available at a cheaper rate than that at which the State authorities are advancing money to-day. One honorable senator said that those who come under this scheme will be enabled to secure financial assistance at a rate from1/2 to 1 per cent, lower than they are now required to pay. What justification exists for such a statement? I am convinced that the scheme will handicap rather than advantage working men in Victoria, because they will have to put down a larger deposit than they are at present called upon to pay. The State Savings Bank authorities in Victoria are keenly interested in their scheme, and are doing everything possible to make it a success. They will not display very great enthusiasm for this scheme, which is not comparable with their own. This stands condemned.
– By whom?
– By thinking men.
– It condemns itself.
– I echo that sentiment. The following is a quotation from the Monthly Summary for October, which was issued by the National Bank of Australia : -
Widespread feeling exists among the taxpayers that there is little demand outside political circles for a housing scheme of the magnitude proposed. The shortage in housing has been overtaken, and facilities at present provided by various authorities and by private enterprise, the bank says, are considered ample to meet all reasonable requirements of home builders.
That opinion is held generally. Hundreds of “For Sale” notices are to be seen in the suburbs of Melbourne.
– Ave the houses vacant?
– Many of them are. There are also numerous “ To Let “ notices. There has been a building boom for quite a long time, arid the shortage of houses has largely been overtaken. Another factor is ‘the transfer to Canberra of a large number of public servants. It is perfectly true that many people are still living in houses that they do not own, and that in some cases two families are occupying the one house. That, howover, does not ‘ indicate lack of a desire to own a house, but rather is due to the inability of those persons to find the money for a deposit on a house. There are many, also, who do not wish to have a. house to themselves. During the boom period, when prices soared, it was not uncommon for owners of homes to dispose of them and go into tenements. That was the beginning of the era of fiat-building. These facts should be considered when figures are quoted showing the large number of people who are not living in their own homes. When this proposition materializes, it will prove a great disappointment to many who believe it to be different from any scheme with which they are acquainted. I have endeavoured to show that it will “be of little advantage to the workers of Victoria. Only those who are in receipt of .-£12 a week are likely to derive any benefit, and in the majority of instances they have already made the necessary provision. Notwithstanding the imperfections of the scheme, however, I shall not vote against the second reading of the bill.
Senator CHAPMAN (South Australia) [4.9 . - I heartily agree with the Government that society can be stabilized by satisfying the craving that is inherent in every man to own the house in which he lives. A great deal has already been done by the States, but a large field is not covered by their acts and financial institutions, chiefly because of financial stringency. During and immediately after the war a keen demand set in for the different governments to make provision for home building. That has largely been satisfied, and to-day the consensus of opinion is that we should concentrate upon reproductive public works. The main objection of the Labour party to ‘ this scheme arises out of the fact that the Government does not propose to establish a new department. At the outset I was afraid that it would. It is much better that it should use institutions that are experienced in the building of houses, and thus supplement their efforts. The proposal of the Labour party would cause additional expenditure and create duplication and useless friction. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) said that the Government would not build one room or lay a single brick. Such criticism is not altogether fair. If he or any other honorable senator proposed to build a large number of houses, would he or they lay the bricks? No; a practical authority would be engaged to do the work. That is exactly what the Government proposes to do.
– The Government does not propose to do even that.
– A fund , of £20,000,000 is to be established to set in motion the necessary machinery. It will consist of 50 per cent, of the new deposits in the Commonwealth ‘Savings Bank, one-quarter of the repayments of existing loans, and of moneys borrowed, by the Treasurer. We have not been given an estimate of the first two sums, and it is difficult for us to judge what the amount will be. The Government ought to be in a position to place before us a complete statement.
In regard to the provision of one half of all new deposits for this purpose, we find that the State of Queensland handed over its savings bank business to the Commonwealth Bank on condition that 70 per cent, of the annual increase in deposits should he made available to it, and I understand that there is a similar agreement in regard to Tasmania. We see, therefore, that no great amount of money can be made available from that source. In regard to the 25 per cent, of the repayments of existing loans, the Treasurer lias stated that at the present time the amounts advanced by the Commonwealth Savings Bank as loans to municipalities and other bodies, total over £40,000,000. If these loans on maturing are not renewed, 25 per cent, of them is to be paid to the housing fund. We have already been informed that S5 per cent, of the Commonwealth Savings Bank deposits are invested in Commonwealth, State Government, and local governing bodies’ securities. Here again it looks as if the local governing bodies are not likely to make many repayments to the savings bank. The probability is therefore that most of the money required for a housing scheme will have to be borrowed for the purpose. 1 frankly confess that if money had to be borrowed for a housing scheme, without due regard to other loan proposals, and with the slight safeguards provided in the bill for retaining parliamentary control over expenditure, I should not vote to give the Government authority to spend this huge amount of money. One reason for adopting that course would be the fact that the absorption of all this money for a housing scheme would leave less money available for other public works. For quite a ‘ long time we have heard the cry from various governments, and, indeed, from the people generally, that Australia must restrict its borrowing, and a Loan Council has been formed partly with that object in view. We are told that the money market is tight, and that only a certain amount of loan money is available. If that be so, it is our duty always to keep in view the loan requirements for developmental and reproductive works, which being more money into Australia and increase the standard of living here to the great benefit of the people of Australia. That, after all, is the only course which will stand the test of time. We have evidence that at present the States apparently cannot obtain all the money they need for reproductive works. I quote the following from the South Australian Register of 31st October -
Loan Estimates. - Although the Premier has not been advised finally by the Loan Council nf the amount that will be available, it is understood that if reductions have to be made i;lie departments will be asked to reduce their works later on. They have already been advised that the only works to be gone on with are those that will absorb the largest number of men. The Premier has decided that it is better to pass the bill and start works rather than wait for the Loan Council.
The Premier of South Australia hardly knows whether he can get all the money he requires for reproductive public works.
– Does he not get all his loan money through the Loan Council ?
– Yes ; but his requests have to be approved by the Loan Council. I understand that each year the States and the Commonwealth submit their loan requirements to the Loan Council, and if it is decided that the total required cannot be borrowed at a reasonable rate of interest, the amounts asked for by each government are reduced in a certain way provided by agreement.
– Is not that a wise provision ?
– I think it is. If we pass a bill authorizing an expenditure of £20,000,000 upon a housing scheme, it seems to me that we shall be handing over the sole control of the expenditure to the Government. , Australia is passing through a serious crisis. It has lost 20,000,000 sheep. The harvest in New South Wales is practically a failure, aud in South Australia it will be only up to half the normal yield. Farmers in all directions are asking for aid to carry thom over until next season. They want seed and superphosphates. The storekeepers cannot carry them over, because they in turn cannot get the money from the banks. Over 2,000 men have recently been discharged by the South Australian Railway. Department. They cannot be allowed to starve. If there is any time when we should go ahead with reproductive works, it is the present. The Royal Commission on National Insurance has recommended the’ Government to use loan money for reproductive works in a time of financial crisis. We are now passing through such a crisis. To illustrate the advantage of pushing on with developmental works, I want to refer to what has been done in connexion with the Tod River reticulation scheme in South Australia. I want to prove that instead of spending money freely on house building, we should be spending whatever money is available on similar schemes. Where a. few years ago there was practically no wheat grown the Tod River reticulation scheme, by conveying water for a couple of hundred miles, has increased the wheat yield from 2,500.000 bushels in 1921-22 to 4,300,000 bushels in 1925-26.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Plain). - The honorable senator must connect his remarks with the bill.
– I want to point out that developmental schemes such as this, which has so developed a district that it is to-day producing oneseventh of the wheat of South Australia, and is affording a great deal of employment, are projects to which we should give our attention in preference to the expenditure of loan money on a housing scheme. The Government’s ideal is good, but the amount of money to be devoted to a house building scheme should be limited by a regard for the amount available for reproductive public works. I regret that there will be little parliamentary control over the expenditure of this huge sum of money. Clause 7 provides -
The housing fund shall consist of -
Clause8 gives a certain amount of discretion to the commissioners, and I trust that they will pay due regard to the immediate necessities of reproductive works. Doubtless the merits and demerits of every application for an advance will be considered by them. The Treasurer has stated that no loan will be raised for the purposes of a housing scheme without reference to the Loan Council. There seems to be some safeguard in that also, because the States who are represented on the Loan Council will have some voice in determining the total amount to be borrowed. I think, however, that the Commonwealth Parliament should have some further control than that which is now provided in the bill. I am a new senator, but my reading of the bill is that by passing it we shall give the Government authority to spend £20,000,000, and that is the end of the matter so far as Parliament is concerned.
It is necessary for the States to amend their legislation before they can avail themselves of this money. Clause 9 of the bill provides -
An advance shall not be made by the savings bank to an authority until the commission ‘is satisfied -
that since the passing of this act the powers of that authority in relation to housing have been increased so as to extend in respect of that advance the existing facilities provided under the housing schemes of that authority in order to cover the matters hereunder specified (if the existing powers are not sufficient to cover those matters), that is to say -
by providing for the purchase of dwelling houses ;
by providing that the maximum amount which may be lent by the authority to any one person shall be One thousand eight hundred pounds, and shall be ninety per centum of the valuation made, by or on behalf of the authority, of the property in respect of which the loan is made; and
by omitting from the existing schemes any provision which excludes from the benefits of the schemes a person in receipt of an income (as determined by the authority) not exceeding Twelve pounds . per week; and … .
– Is not that a dictatorial provision ?
– No bank would advance up to 90 per cent, without some guarantee, and I cannot see any bank advancing up to that amount without the guarantee of the States. The South Australian Advances for Homes Act gives the Government power to make advances to persons of limited means to provide homes for themselves. It contains the following provisions -
This means that the Government of South Australia takes the risk. The State bank simply carries out the work on a commission basis. The New South Wales act of 1913 provides, in section 15-
There shall be a special reserve fund of the bank to which shall be carried any profit or loss arising from transactions under this part. Any deficiency in such fund at the end of any financial year of the bank shall be made good from the consolidated revenue fund upon such deficiency being certified to by the commissioners.
It seems to me that in expecting the States to amend their legislation so as to take advantage of the Government’s housing proposals, we are asking a good deal. It appears to be a very good scheme for the Commonwealth Savings Bank, which will receive
A high rate of interest for its advances. At present it has a considerable sum of money invested in Government and municipal securities at low rates of interest. Under the housing scheme, the rate will be higher, and so from that point of view the scheme will be a good bargain for the. bank, especially as the State Governments will take the risk. We have been told that the State authorities were Consulted. Special reference was made to the proposed advances for the erection of warehouses and storages. It is stated that the State Ministers were consulted. These advances are to be made under a clause in the Commonwealth Bank Act, and not from the Housing Fund. It is regrettable that more information is not being furinished as to the attitude of the State Governments towards the scheme. The billwas amended in another place, and further amendments may be made in this chamber. Possibly an outline of the scheme was before the State authorities, and was generally approved, but if certain of the States do not amend their legislation they may be placed in an invidious position, because there will be a general demand that as the money is available they should take advantage of it, when, as a matter of fact, it might not be desirable, in the opinion of a State Government, to amend its legislation as provided for in this bill. I see in this provision the possibility of friction between the Commonwealth and the State
Governments. There are many matters to be considered in the amending of the State acts. The rates of interest and conditions governing advances vary in the different States. In Queensland, the rate of interest on advances is fixed at 5 per cent. ; in New South Wales it is 6 per cent.; in Victoria, 61/4 per cent.; in South Australia, 6 per cent. ; in Western Australia, 51/2 per cent. ; and in Tasmania 7 per cent. It may be difficult for the State Governments to bring their legislation into line. Other provisions also have to be considered. In South Australia, preference is given to an applicant with children. This bill provides, also, for an advance up to £1,800. This means that the various State authorities will be expected to take greater risks than is allowable under their own legislation, and they may not feel disposed to do that. In my judgment, an advance of 90 per cent, is unduly generous. I agree with the Government’s ideals, and I approve of the bill ; but the measure should contain provisions to safeguard the position of the various States in case some of them may decide not to take advantage of it. Under this measure it will be possible for a man with £200 to buy a £2,000 house. I question the wisdom of encouraging any person with only £200 to aspire to the purchase of a house of that value, because he may be tying a millstone round his neck that will burden him for a long time. The bill should not come into operation until at least four of the States have agreed to amend their legislation. That would bo something of a safeguard, and would not put a State in an invidious position. I commend the Government for having introduced the bill. In committee I hope that amendments will be made along the lines which I have indicated.
– This is one of the most important measures that could engage the attention of honorable senators. The provision of satisfactory housing: accommodation for the people has exercised, for many years, the minds of the ablest and shrewdest men in all countries. The position in the Commonwealth and elsewhere throughout the Empire is exceedingly unsatisfactory. I cannot speak definitely about the state of affairs in Great Britain, but I understand that rents there are high, and that there is a good deal of overcrowding,. especially in the larger cities. I have taken a keen interest in the housing problem in Australia, and I can speak with first-hand knowledge of several important centres of population. The Governments of all the States have schemes of their own for the erection of homes. A few municipal councils are also giving attention to this business. In addition, large numbers of building societies have been operating for many years, and private enterprise has been responsible for the erection of a considerable number of homes. Nevertheless, the housing position .in Australia is most unsatisfactory. The census of 1921 disclosed that 40 per cent, of the people were the owners of the homes in which they lived; 12 per cent, were buying their homes; and 48 per cent, were at the mercy of their landlords. I have not seen any figures since that year, but I question very much if the position to-day is more satisfactory than it was in .1921. It is deplorable that, despite our boasted intelligence and our system of free education, despite also that 75 per cent, of the adult population are natives of the Commonwealth, 4S per cent, of our people in 1921 did not own the homes in which they lived. In a country like Australia every man should have a home of his own. The present lamentable state of affairs cannot be for want of schemes, because schemes innumerable have been formulated and put into operation by private enterprise, building societies, councils and governments. Yet 48 per cent, of the people of this country do not possess the homes in which they live. I admit that the present shortage of houses in the Commonwealth is partly due to so many men employed in the building trade having been absent -from Australia during the period of the war. But there are other reasons not of a transient nature which are so conspicuous that they cannot fail to be noticed by any person in search of the facts. Probably the most important of them is the excessive cost of home sites. No matter how competent the bricklayers, carpenters, or other artizans may be, they cannot build a home unless a site for it is available. Although the high prices demanded, for home sites is the principal cause of the shortage of houses to-day, this bill does not deal with that aspect of the question. Practically half the people of Australia live in and around our capital cities, and, whether we like it or not, that state of affairs is likely to continue. A working man cannot obtain a home site near Sydney -or Melbourne unless he pays from £3 to £6 per foot for it. The Government does not propose to legislate in the direction of keeping the price of land within reasonable limits. That would be a practical step in the direction of providing homes for the people; but it is the last thing the Government would contemplate. If the price of land were regulated, as I have suggested, there would be no need for the other provisions of the bill. A man receiving the basic wage cannot pay the high prices necessary to obtain the land on which to build a home; or, if he does do so, he is handicapped practically all the remainder of his life through having to pay interest on the cost. Even in Canberra it is impossible to obtain home sites at reasonable prices. Hundreds of workmen in the Federal Capital are living in tents and cubicles because land is not made available to them at prices other than those fixed by the Federal Capital Commission. No more humiliating or disgraceful sight can be seen to-day than that which can be obtained from a railway carriage passing through some of the suburbs of our capital cities. I refer to the miserable little allotments upon which tens of thousands of Australian workmen and their families are obliged to live. In a country like Australia, what necessity is there for families to live in houses on blocks with frontages of 20 feet, 30 feet, even 40 feet, by a depth of SO feet or 100 feet? Those who live in such places do not do so because they like it; but because they are unable to pay the prices demanded for larger blocks. Any government worthy of the -name would take steps to provide the people with home sites at reasonable prices. It would not be too much to provide that the average worker should have a home surrounded by an acre of land. The Government will not make any attempt in that direction, because it knows that, if it did, it would meet with the active hostility of the wealthiest and most strongly entrenched section of the community. On one occasion I, with a number of other persons, was invited to a conversazione in a home surrounded by spacious grounds. Various subjects were discussed. I expressed the opinion that the home of every working man should be surrounded by an area as great as that which surrounded the home in which the discussion took place. My comments were heard in silence. When I again met the gentleman in whose home we had gathered, he professed not to know me; but, later, when he knew who I was, he said that I was that” red-hot “ man who wanted every worker to have an acre of land surrounding his home. He characterized my suggestion as impertinence. No one can deny that if every home was surrounded by ample grounds the effect would be to promote peace and happiness in the community.
– Would the average working man be able to utilize an acre of land?
– It would depend on how the land was used. Some men’s conception of a home is to surround the house with concrete or asphalt paths. Some think that the whole of the space surrounding the house should be filled with flowers; others that the ground should be utilized for the growing of vegetables and fruit. Still others advocate the planting of lawns and shrubs around their homes. There may be differences of opinion in that connexion, but there can be no difference of opinion as to the miserable allotments upon which the average Australian is compelled to live and to rear his family.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) . - The honorable senator is getting beyond the scope of the measure before us.
– If you, Mr. President, rule that I may not discuss the conditions under which many of the people of Australia live, I shall move that your ruling be dissented from.
– The honorable senator must not use. threats when he is told that his remarks are outside the scope of the measure under discussion.
– I shall not conflict with your ruling, Mr. President; but I respectfully suggest that in discussing the bill before the Senate I am entitled to say in what direction it could be improved. The bill purposes to deal with a housing scheme, but I deny that it does so. I propose, later, to move an amendment to include in this bill some resolutions agreed to by the Australian Labour party in New South Wales, as follows: -
HOUSING AND SUBURBAN DEVELOPMENT.
Taxation of lands held out of effective use in areas proclaimed as suitable for residential purposes, at such rates as shall compel speculators to disgorge. An exemption to be made of one residential block.
Model State suburbsin metropolitan area.
Model State villages at approved country centres.
Blocks of land for residential purposes to be provided by the State free to genuine home-seekers, to be completely controlled by such persons as long as they and their families use them for personal residence. Permission be granted to sell improvements from time to ti me.
Provision of materials at cost price from Government enterprises for building homes for the people.
Power to be given to city, municipal and shire councils to deal effectively with unsatisfactory buildings, and to provide homes for the people. (g). Cheap transport facilities between residential and industrial and commercial centres.
Amendment of the Fair Rents Court to protect tenants against eviction and other evasions of the act.
In the opinion of the New South Wales Labour party, these provisionsare necessary, but I specially desire to invite the attention of the Senate to the first section of these proposals, and to suggest that it should be included in this bill, namely-
Taxation of lands held out of effective use in areas proclaimed as suitable for residential purposes, at such rates as shall compel speculators to disgorge.
I know that Senator Pearce is particularly well-informed upon this subject. Unless steps are taken to make home sites available at cheap rates, it is not possible to help those people who are trying to secure homes of their own. No one knows that better than Senator Pearce. He has a wide knowledge on this subject, or, at any rate, he used to have.
– Perhaps he has forgotten it.
– No, he has not forgotten; he has only got into bad company. I intend later to move an amendment to have that provision inserted in the present bill. The Government could easily do it, and what would happen if effect were given to such a provision ? Almost immediately the speculative value of home sites throughout the Commonwealth would vanish entirely, and the Australian workman, or anybody else, would be able to secure for his home an area of an acre, or even 5 acres, as compared with the contemptible and microscopic allotment on which he is now compelled to live. I commend this provision to the’ Government as the surest and most effective way of bringing about the reform which it appears to desire. I warn the Government, however, that it would arouse against itself all the antipathies and all the forces of monopoly, but it should have the courage to face those forces. Even if it went down, it would do so in a good cause. I believe that all penalties which are now imposed upon workers desiring to build their own homes should be removed. Many years ago it was very difficult to secure the transfer of a piece of land. Under the old system, it cost a large sum of money to do so, and we are indebted to Sir R. Torrens, of South Australia, who introduced many times what is now called the “ Torrens Act.” Eventually, it was passed by the South Australian Parliament, and has been adopted with modifications by all the other Australian Parliaments. Under that act the transfer of land could be effected for a nominal sum. Unfortunately, however, every day since that act was passed, those who are desirous of preventing the workers from securing their own homes, have .availed themselves of every opportunity to create new difficulties, and to increase the cost of transfers, until to-day those costs represent a very serious item, indeed. In New South Wales the late Labour Government abolished the stamp duties as far as they applied to blocks of land for homes purchased for returned soldiers. That was, undoubtedly, a step in the right direction, but, unfortunately, the Government did not abolish the fees in respect of blocks acquired by ordinary workers, and I venture to say that there is not the slightest hope of anything being done in that direction by the Government now in office in that State. If they did that, it would make it easier for a mau without a home to secure one, but that is the last thing the present New South Wales Government wishes to do. That Government wants to make it more and more difficult to secure a home. The transfer fees are in proportion to the value of the land, or the value of the property. Any one who desires to escape the exactions of the landlord by purchasing a home site for himself is immediately pounced upon by the State Government, and made to pay 15s. for every hundred pounds value of the land he buys. In South Australia it is proposed to increase the stamp duties by a further substantial amount. I should like to see this Government tackle that aspect of the homes question, but under this bill it does not propose to do anything in regard to the matter at all. The Government proposes to raise money, presumably more cheaply than the States could, to enable the people to obtain homes of their own, but it would be doing better work if it insisted on a reduction in stamp duties by the State Governments.
– I must again ask the honorable gentleman to confine his remarks to the provisions of this bill.
– At the present time the legal costs and mortgage fees in connexion with the raising of money are so heavy that on a loan of £300 a sum of between £30 and £40 has to be paid. The Government does not intend, under this bill, to. do anything in regard to that matter, yet there is nothing to prevent it from eliminating, or at any rate substantially reducing, the stamp duties, legal fees, and mortgage fees. These charges involve an extra payment of from £60 to £70 on the purchase of an ordinary dwelling. The cost of a home could be substantially reduced if the Government would take steps in that direction. There is one good point, apparently, in this bill. I use the word “ apparently “ advisedly, because the home builder will derive no actual benefit. I refer to the fact that it will not be necessary to pay fresh mortgage fees every three years. At the present time a loan can be negotiated in Sydney with a private financier for a period of only about three years, at 10 per cent: interest. That is the lowest price at which it is possible to get money . to-day. Under this bill it is proposed to advance money for a longer period, and, therefore, the mortgage fees will have to be paid only once; but just as land values increase when a tramway is constructed, or a railway is built out into the suburbs, so the fact that these fees are payable once only in a lifetime will result in this apparent advantage being capitalized, and added to the value of the land. The price for home sites will advance proportionately, and those people who have such land to sell will be the only ones to reap any benefit from this provision. The price of home sites is the crux of the whole question, and while the situation in that regard remains undisturbed, I have no hesitation in saying that all the discussion around the various clauses of this bill amounts to nothing more than a lot of vain word-spinning. If the Government will include in the bill this portion of the platform of the Labour party in New South “Wales, the immediate effect will be to limit the selling prices of building allotments. Doubtless the Fair Rents Act has been effective in preventing the extraction of an extortionate rent; but it is impossible to say to what extent it. has been instrumental in the investment of capital in home building. The inclusion of such a provision in this measure is questionable, but a trial of the system may be worth while. The New South “Wales Government Savings Bank has in operation a housing scheme under which it makes substantial advances to those who desire to possess homes. So far as I can judge, this scheme will not be able to compete with that. It is unlikely that the Commonwealth Savings Bank will have its deposits augmented to any extent so long as the board of directors continues the practice of paying only31/2 per cent, as compared with the 4 per cent, that is paid by the State authorities on deposits up to £500. In view of the fact that the Commonwealth Savings Bank obtains deposits at a cost of only 31/2 per cent., it could well afford to lend out that money at an interest rate of 41/2 per cent., or at the most 5 per cent. That is not the intention. Clause 7 enlightens us as to the main source from which will be derived the revenue necessary to finance this proposal. It provides -
The housing fund shall consist of -
According to its balance-sheet for the year ended the 30th June, 1927, the Commonwealth Savings Bank at that date held deposits totalling £46,799,020 16s.5d. Is it not absurd, therefore, for the Government to contemplate borrowing for this alleged housing scheme? I suppose the Treasurer will have’ to obtain money in London. He may even attempt to exploit the American market. No matter where he floats his loan, he will have to pay an interest rate of at least 5 per cent. Why does not the Commonwealth Savings Bank make available to home-seekers some of the money it has on deposit from the workers of Australia? The Government Savings Bank in New South Wales has loaned considerable sums for house building. The amount has been steadily advancing for a number of years. The balance-sheet last published showed that £8,283,940 9s.11d. was then outstanding. So far as I can judge, its terms are as good as, if not better than, will be made available under this alleged scheme. It will be competent for the Treasurer to borrow money and lend it to prescribed authorities. Presumably that bank will be one of those authorities. But it is not likely to have anything to do with the scheme, because, although it pays 4 per cent, on deposits up to £500, the average rate which it pays is lower than 4 per cent. The manager has informed me that on the 31st October last the deposits totalled £70,000,000, and the investments in homes £13,616,490. I have been unable to ascertain from the balance-sheet of the Commonwealth Bank whether it has done anything in that direction. We have not been told what authorities will participate in the scheme, and until that information is in our possession we should regard the measure with some suspicion. I was pleased to read in a pre-sessional speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) that the Commonwealth Government intended to embark upon a £20,000,000 housing scheme. Whatever may have been the intention at that time, the scheme that we now have before us does not provide for the Government laying one brick or doing any work except borrow and lend money. This measure and the complementary Commonwealth Savings Bank Bill will do little towards ameliorating the existing shortage of housing accommodation. I was in Melbourne quite recently, and I cannot recollect having seen one house to let. I do not wish to contradict Senator Findley, because in that respect his knowledge is greater than mine; but I can say that in Sydney and suburbs it is almost impossible to procure a house. You may walk mile after mile and not see one house to let; and if you endeavoured to purchase any of the few that are for sale, you would find that the fictitious price demanded rendered such a course inexpedient. Every house in Sydney is occupied, and in many cases two families are living in accommodation that is sufficient for only one.
– Is not that the effect of the Fair Rents Court?
– It is not.
– It is the defect of the Fair Rents Court.
– Senator Elliott was not in the chamber when I stated that I was unable to judge whether the Fair Rents Act had been instrumental in the erection of more. houses. One of the reasons for the position of affairs in Sydney is the fact that the population of the city is increasing because people are flocking there from country districts and other States, where the municipalities impose taxation on homes. In the great majority of the suburbs in Sydney, however, there is not a small bungalow or cottage to let. Sometimes houses are occupied by more than one family.
– This measure will not give any relief in that direction.
– I have carefully perused the bill, and I see no reason for passing it. It is a make-believe measure, and if I vote for it I shall do so to give people an ocular demonstration of the worthlessness of the measures introduced by the present Government. It is difficult to imagine two bills so absolutely worthless as the Commonwealth Bank Savings
Bank Bill and the Housing Bill. The vital provisions of the former have been deleted, and there are no vital provisions in the latter. It is a sham from end to end. No house will be built under it. It is only an effort to continue the deception of the public which was started by the Prime Minister when in his policy speech he announced his intention to provide £20,000,000 for housing. I am always opposed to one authorityborrowing money and another authority spending it. The authorities in New South Wales are just as capable as the Commonwealth authorities, and their credit is just as good as that of the Commonwealth when they find it necessary to borrow money. The Commonwealth Savings Bank gets money from depositors at 3£ per cent.. Why does it not lend it out (for building homes? Why should the Treasurer have to go to London and America, or why should he borrow money in Australia while deposits are available in the Commonwealth Savings Bank to build homes?. The balance-sheet of the New South Wales State Savings Bank shows that it has £70,000,000 on deposit, of which amount about £13,616,490 is made available for house-building purposes. My objection to the bill is that it does not touch the real question. It does not touch home sites, registration fees, transfer fees, or the extortionate fees charged by the legal fraternity. Instead of commenting on fair rents courts, Senator Elliott ought to direct his attention to the increasing, altogether unreasonable and extortionate fees extracted by the legal fraternity, of which he is a shining light, from workers who try to get homes for themselves. The honorable senator is like the squid which throws out an inky screen to obscure its movements. He talks about fair rents courts to obscure the real issue - that something should be done to prevent the legal fraternity from getting away with £10 10s. or £12 12s. every time a worker tries to escape from his rent lord. If the Government were to bring down a real bill to erect homes, every honorable senator of the Opposition would be pleased to support it. And, while I dare say most of them will vote for this bill, I say clearly that I expect no good to come from it. I vote for it, just to give the people a real tangible, ocular demonstration of the useless character of the measures introduced by the Government. But I trust that in committee I shall be able to able to move an amendment to incorporate in the bill a plank from the platform of the Labour party in New South Wales which will ensure home sites being made available at nominal sums.
– One hardly knows how to comment on the criticism that has been levelled at the bill by Senator Grant. I have endeavoured to follow the honorable senator through his wanderings, but he has got beyond my comprehension, and I think I shall have to let him alone for the moment and deal with the other criticisms delivered by honorable senators opposite. It would be passing strange to any listener here to-day to understand the motive of honorable senators opposite in speaking against a. bill which they declare they intend to support. We have had the spectacle, which I hope we shall not often have in this chamber, of a champion of the City of Melbourne proclaiming the position of that city, being followed by another honorable senator of the same party holding up to admiration the progress of the City of Sydney. The rivalry between the two cities is well known, but I hope that we shall not have a recurrence of that sort of thing on the floor of the Senate. It is well known that there has been for years in Australia a need that has not yet been met by the States for the effective, comfortable and cheaper housing of a very important section of the community.
-“Effective andcomfortable “ may be all right, but “ cheaper “ does not apply.
– I want these people to have cheaper houses compared with those they have to put up with because the States have not risen to the occasion and provided them with what, I am very glad to say, . has been provided for another section of the community. Honorable senators have referred to the splendid work done by the State Savings Bank of Victoria. It is very fine work indeed. I give place to no one in praising the efforts made in the various States to provide homes on reasonable terms for the poorer , section of the people ; but we have to consider the needs of the whole community. This bill provides for a section of the people which has not been able to obtain relief under any State housing scheme. It is a relief to which they are as much entitled as the lower paid section of the community. This relief has not hitherto been afforded to them, because I presume the finances of the States have not warranted an extension of their operations. Notwithstanding the statement made by Senator Findley, the advances made by the State Savings Bank ofVictoria do not exceed £850. The honorable senator would have us believe that the State Savings Bank makes advances to £1,350.
– The State Savings Bank has made advances to that amount, but not under the Credit Foncier scheme.
– I am referring to advances made under house-building schemes. I understand that under an amending bill that is now before the State House in Victoria, provision is made for advances up to £1,350 on brick buildings ; but as that is not yet the law. Senator Findley’s statement that the Victorian State Savings Bank is offering practically as large an amount as will be advanced by the Commonwealth Savings Bank, and on easier terms, is not correct. The section of the community this bill will benefit is that section which has a larger income than £400 a year, which is the limit in the Victorian Act, and I think in other States which have housing schemes. There are thousands of men in Australia, estimable citizens, with salaries exceeding £400 a year, who are harder put to it to make ends meet than many of those who have smaller incomes. It is hard for them to make ends meet because of their family responsibilities, because they have to maintain appearances in keeping with the positions they hold, and are compelled to live in a way that leads to more expenditure than is incurred by the average working man with an income of £5, £6, or £7 a week. Surely that class of the community is worthy of consideration ? Senator Findley, in his criticism of the bill, ignored one of its most important features. He overlooked entirely the provision in it for advances for the taking over of mortgages on existing buildings, or for the purchase of houses already erected. Senator Grant has told us that in Sydney and suburbs the people are so prosperous that no empty houses are to be found there. I have no reason to doubt the honorable senator’s statement. If, as he says, there are no empty houses in the metropolitan areas of Sydney, then we may be sure that the money to be made available to the New South Wales housing authority under this bill will be largely availed of. Senator Findley was not able to present such a pleasing picture as regards Melbourne and suburbs, but there again it will be possible for citizens to take advantage of this housing scheme, because under it they will be able to secure advances for the removal of existing mortgages upon which, possibly, they are paying high rates of interest. Therefore, the bill will give relief to them.
– What is the position in Burnie?
– When last I was there practically every house was occupied, because the prosperity of that portion of Tasmania is always assured. I do not wish to be uncharitable towards members of the Opposition; but I believe I am not wide of the mark when I say that any criticism which they have directed against the measure has been due to the fact that it was introduced by a Nationalist Government. Apparently honorable senators opposite have asked themselves - “ Can there be any good thing come out of Nazareth.” They are firmly convinced that nothing good can emanate from a Nationalist Government. Nevertheless, it is significant that all of the speakers from the Opposition benches conclude by stating their intention to support the bill. I take that as an admission that it is a measure that should be placed upon the statute-book.
– I shall vote against it.
– It is interesting to know that one honorable senator in the ranks of the Opposition does not intend to be bound by the decision of the majority. Two of the speakers against the bill declared that the Government does not intend to erect one beam of timber or dig one foundation trench for a house. I cannot understand that line of reasoning. Under this bill substantial money will be advanced to those States that intend to take advantage of the scheme. If any State does not accept the conditions laid down in the proposal, it will stand out of the scheme.. The Government’s sole object is to assist the States to extend their existing housing schemes by making larger advances available on liberal terms. It does not follow that it will be necessary to raise annually the sum of £20,000,000 for this purpose. That will depend entirely upon the needs of the various States. I agree with Senator Chapman that it is advisable to exercise the greatest care in all financial transactions at this critical period in our history, and that loan money should be applied to reproductive works. No better scheme could be formulated than for the expenditure of loan money on the housing of the people, provided that due care is taken to safeguard the security. I would not, however, entertain any project that had for its object the entering of the Commonwealth into extensive building operations. Already we have had one unfortunate experience in that direction. The States have all the requisite machinery, and in addition they have had invaluable experience which will prevent them from making mistakes in the future. During the last few years, practically no losses have been sustained by the States in their house building schemes. Senator Findley attempted to show that this proposal was not so liberal as that in operation in the State of Victoria, in that it contained no provision for a concession to applicants according to the number of their children. I understand from what the honorable senator said that under the Victorian system, a deduction of £5 in the amount of the required deposit is allowed for every child. In other words, if an applicant for an advance has five children, instead of having to pay a deposit of £50,. he need only pay £25. When I asked’ Senator Findley, by way of interjection, what would be the position of an applicant and his wife who had ten children,. I was informed that the maximum reduction was £25. I have no desire to criticize the legislation of any State, but it seems to be very unfair that such a, desirable provision as that mentioned by Senator Findley, should not be fully enjoyed by an applicant with ten children. We should do all we can to encourage the rearing of families in Australia. The provisions of this bill are exceedingly liberal. They apply to all persons receiving up to £12 per week. It will be possible for an applicant to obtain an advance of £1,800 on payment of a deposit of 10 per cent. This will be very welcome to those citizens who occupy fairly good positions, but who are shut, out from the advantages of State housing schemes because they are in receipt of salaries above the maximum provided for. I am confident that this measure is anticipated by the people of Australia. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), in his policy speech during the last election campaign, stated definitely that the Government would include this legislation in its programme. This bill therefore is a fulfilment of the Prime Minister’s pledge, and it will be welcomed by all sections of the community. If it had not been brought forward the Government would have betrayed the trust reposed in it at the last election. I trust that the second reading will be carried without a dissenting voice.
– I am glad that the Government has introduced this measure. I regard it as an . earnest of the Ministry’s intention to give effect to the election pledges of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce). During the last election cam paign I wholeheartedly endorsed this proposal and I found that, wherever mentioned, it was received most favorably - so favorably indeed that I would be justified in saying that the people enthusiastically supported it. If we are to have a happy and contented people they must be housed under the best possible conditions consistent with a proper regard for our finances. Unfortunately, large numbers of our people are living under conditions which are deplorable. That is neither their fault nor the fault of any government. It is largely due to the progress which this country has made being so great that the provision of homes has not kept pace with the growth of the population. An earnest attempt should be made to remedy the existing unsatisfactory conditions under which so many of our people live. How far this measure will assist in that direction it is difficult to say. It is not easy to see how homes can be provided for people in country districts, and before we can attempt to place in better homes the people now living in “ slum “ areas in our cities, a policy of education must be undertaken. They must be made to understand that the condi tions under which they -are living are not desirable, either from their own point of view or from that of the nation. Some years ago the Sydney municipal authorities embarked on a scheme to provide homes for some of the poorer people of Sydney; but many of those whom it was desired to assist failed to appreciate the provision that was made for them. Although homes more desirable in every way than those in which they then dwelt were built at enormous expense and made available to them at rentals which scarcely gave even a nominal return on the outlay, many of those houses remained empty because the people preferred to stay where “they were. I am glad that the Government, in launching its housing scheme, does not itself propose to build houses, as was done in connexion with the war service homes scheme, but intends to allow private enterprise to do the work. That is the safest way in which to proceed, because it ensures that only those peopl’3 who appreciate the advantage of a good home will receive assistance from the Government. The Government’s scheme should, therefore, be not only a financial but also a social success. Many people are not satisfied that a housing scheme is the function of the Commonwealth. In support of that view they point out that the control of land is vested in the States, and that all the States have already embarked on housing schemes. They are concerned that the Commonwealth Government should engage in what they regard as a hazardous undertaking. While agreeing with them that the State governments are rightly concerned in providing homes for their people, we should also recognize that to the Commonwealth Parliament is entrusted the safety and well-being of the whole of the people of Australia, and that the future development and prosperity ofthis country depends a great deal on the conditions under which its people live. Better homes result in happier and more contented people. The States are doing good work; but not even honorable senators opposing this bill would go so far as to say that they are doing all that might be done. The housing scheme of the South Australian Government has been most successful. That State has provided thousands of its citizens with homes which, but for the assistance of the Government, they could not have obtained. In most of the States good work has been accomplished in that direction; but there still remains much to be done. Seeing that the Commonwealth is able to obtain revenue from sources not available to the States, it is justified in co-operating with the States in providing homes for the people. Addressing theRotary Club in Melbourne some time ago the InspectorGeneral of the State Savings Bank of Victoria, Mr. G. E. Emery, gave some illuminating facts in relation to Australia’s housing problem. He said that 38 per cent, of Australia’s accumulated wealth of £114,000,000 a year was expended in housing. He stated further that there were 1,350,000 dwellings in Australia and that to house the annual population increase of 130,000 it was necessary to build 28,000 homes a year. In addition, the replacement of old houses numbered 12,000 per annum.Mr. Emery went on to say that the total cost of those 40,000 homes was between £35,000,000 and £40,000,000 per annum. I point out that those figures apply only to the normal increase of population and to the replacing of old houses no longer considered suitable.
– Those figures are very speculative.
– I suggest that any statement in relation to housing by the Inspector-General of the State Savings Bank of Victoria, is entitled to respect. It should not have been difficult for Mr. Emery to ascertain the annual increase in our population, and by a simple mathematical calculation to determine the number of new homes required to house that population.
– Because of the large floating population, it would be difficult to determine where the homes should be located.
– I take it that considerations of that kind have not been overlooked. The figures given by Mr. Emery apply to the whole of Australia, not only to Victoria. Mr. Emery added -
During the period from19 15 to 1921 we “ did in “ £20,000,000 a year of our accumulated wealth by borrowing overseas. People may say that this amount was so large because it covered the war period, but it is significant that from 1921 to 1326 the figure amounted to £27,000,000 a year. Of the remainder of the wealth, £8,000,000 a year is spent on plant and machinery, £18,000,000 on stock and merchandise, £12,000,000 on furniture and personal property, £23,000,000 on government enterprises, including railways and tramways, £43,000,000 on land and improvements, and £9,000,000 on livestock.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8p.m.
– These figures prove conclusively the vital necessity for home construction schemes in Australia, and clearly justify the introduction of the Government’s proposals. But certain disadvantages , in connexion with the scheme should be taken into consideration. Perhaps it will be necessary for the Government to take steps to meet a situation that may arise: I refer to the probability of increased costs in building generally, as a result of the launching of this scheme. While it is true that there is a great deal of unemployment throughout Australia in a number of trades, generally speaking building trade operatives are fully employed. This new and comprehensive building scheme when it is put into operation will in all probability lead to a demand for both skilled and unskilled labour. In the case of the former it may be difficult to supply the demand. Any difficulty with regard to unskilled labour will easily be met, because unfortunately there is always an ample supply available.
– According to the latest returns in Victoria the great bulk of employment in that State is in the building trade.
– That may be the situation in Victoria, but I think the right honorable the. Minister will agree with me that when the Government’s building proposals arc in full swing throughout Australia, there will be a big demand’ for operatives in the building trade, and it may be difficult to obtain sufficient labour, particularly in country centres. This increased demand will undoubtedly lead to an increase in wages, with a consequent increase in building costs.
– Does not the bill provide also for the purchasing of existing homes ?
– Yes, but the figures which I have just quoted show that 28,000 additional homes are required in Australia each year to meet current demands, and I am endeavouring to show that, when this scheme is superimposed upon existing building activities in the various States, it may lead to an increase in costs. At present the complaint is that a sufficient number of new homes is not being made available each year. If there is this increased demand for the necessary labour, prices will inevitably rise. This is the experience in all branches of commercial life. The Government’s action also may affect the demand for suitable home sites. We may see an increase of land values in desirable residential areas. We have heard recently about the present high costs of building materials, so we may assume that costs there will also rise. Although I believe that the Government is taking the right course in bringing forward these proposals, the disadvantages which I have mentioned should not be lost sight of.
– Is it not a fact that the present trend of building costs is downwards?
– That may be true of certain areas, but one does not see evidence of decrease in Canberra.
– I have some evidence that cost here are falling also.
– I am glad to hear the Minister say that, because those of us who were fortunate enough to have lunch to-day in certain pleasant circumstances had impressed on us the fact that building costs are exceedingly high in Canberra.
– Were those circumstances normal ?
– That I cannot say. All I know is that we were informed that one weatherboard building with an iron roof, designed for offices, and containing three rooms with fibro plaster partitions, cost about £1,950. We were also told that another weatherboard building with an iron roof about as large as a decentsized cottage, cost in the vicinity of £5,000. The buildings I am referring to were erected by the Federal Capital Commission as portion of the improvements at Government House, Canberra.
– Surely the honorable senator was misinformed.
– I can assure the honorable senator that I was not misinformed. If that is an indication of the building costs in Canberra, and if costs elsewhere are on a similar scale, we may be sure that the cost of buildings erected under this scheme will be pretty considerable.
– The case cited by the honorable senator should be the subject of an inquiry.
– It certainly was commented upon pretty freely in certain quarters. I agree with Senator Payne that it should be inquired into. I have mentioned these costs in reply to the interjection from the Honorary Minister (Senator McLachlan), who toldus that building prices were falling even in Canberra. I can assure him that public servants and others who are erecting homes in this city would be very glad if that were so. At present the complaint is that building costs are abnormally high, not only in Canberra, but throughout the Commonwealth. Indeed, so high are they that it is almost impossible for the average working man to own a decent home. I feel sure that it was the realization of these facts that impelled the Government to bring forward its scheme for home building, and I have mentioned the possible disadvantages because they are likely to react upon the scheme generally, and certainly will affect those who participate in it to the extent that they may not be able to get full value for the money borrowed. There is also another aspect that should appeal to all thoughtful students of the present position. The launching of the scheme may lead to a decrease in values of existing homes, and in that way prejudicially affect a large number of workers and others on small salaries who are buying homes from existing building a uthorities on the time-payment system. If by reason of the operation of this scheme the value of those assets is decreased, to that extent we shall be doing them an injury, because, instead of sh aping a reward for their industry and thrift, they may see the value of their assets decline somewhat. There is also the question of rents. People are building to-day in the several cities of the Commonwealth and are basing rents on present values. This scheme may so affect values that it will not bepossible to obtain the same rents for existing properties, with the result that those who have invested money in them may not get an adequate return. I have mentioned these disadvantages in order that the Government may take steps to avoid them. Talcing all the circumstances into consideration, the advantages of the scheme far outweigh its disadvantages. I feel sure that the bill will receive the support of the Senate, and that when the scheme is put into operation it will result in many thousands of our people possessing their own homes. That will make them better citizens, with the result that the Commonwealth will benefit.
Senator KINGSMILL (Western Australia [8.17]. - I am glad to be able to support this bill, although I do so for reasons for which some honorable senators have condemned it. When the Government’s housing scheme was first mentioned. I was afraid that it would mean another house-building scheme, and, having a lively recollection of what took place in connexion with the war service homes, I admit that the thought of any repetition of that scheme was unpalatable to me. But seeing that the scheme before us is merely one by which the building of homes will be financed by the Commonwealth, my objections to the war service homes scheme do not apply in this instance. The scheme has two advantages: first, it provides prospective home-seekers with money to finance their undertaking on reasonable terms; and, secondly, it provides the Savings Bank with a satisfactory investment for some of its funds.
Circumstances, financial, economic, and social, differ so greatly in various localities that it is difficult to generalize upon the effect of this scheme, which will operate over the whole of Australia. We may take it, however, that the introduction into the financial world of a new competitor in this class of finance must be good for the borrower, although it is difficult to estimate its effect upon those who, for some time, have had their own way in the granting of loans for the erection of homes. The effect of the scheme on existing properties is also problematical. However, seeing that it will assist people to obtain homes, it must be in the interests of Australia. As there are spots even on the sun, so there are one or two defects in this measure. The residence conditions embodied in the bill are altogether too stringent. In the Federal Public Service particularly there are numbers of men whose duties require that they from time to time shall change their place of residence. Those men will find it difficult to comply with the condition that borrowers must personally live in the houses to be erected with the money provided under this scheme. That provision is a necessary safeguard in some instances, because it will prevent speculative building with money secured from the Commonwealth Savings Bank. On the other hand, it may deter public servants in, say, the Trade and Customs Department, the Commonwealth Railways, or the Postal Department from building houses in which to retire when they leave the service. The residential conditions of the bill could, with advantage, be modified. It could be left to the discretion of , a board to say whether, in genuine cases, the provisions of that part of the bill should apply. In its present form, instead of conferring benefits, the measure may place restrictions, in some cases, on those whom we desire to help. The somewhat harsh nature of these provisions may also affect public servants in the service of the States whose duties require an occasional change of residence. For instance, teachers in the State education departmentsare frequently called upon, often at short notice, to transfer from one part of the State to another. I should like the Minister in his reply to say to what extent the Government would be willing to modify this provision, which in its present form, appears to be a little too rigid. I understand that the clause in question has been taken from the legislation dealing with the provision of workers’ homes in the several States.
– It applies also to the war service homes.
– I realize that; but I prefer not to refer to the war service homes. Even after this lapse of time the words recall painful memories. I should hesitate to move in the direction of modifying the residence conditions if the Government itself is prepared to do so. A remedy could be found without endangering the otherwise good principles underlying the bill. I see nothing but good in the measure, particularly for those who will become beneficiaries under the scheme, and thereforeI shall support the second reading;
-. -I am glad that this measure has been introduced, notwithstanding that all the States have done well in providing homes for their people. The Government’s scheme provides one of the safest investments for the funds of the Commonwealth Savings Bank that could be offered. The provision of this money will enable large numbers of our people to obtain their own homes, and thus to have a stake in the country. In launching this scheme, the Government is assisting that class of the community which is greatly in need of assistance. Whatever our political views, we all agree that a man who owns his own home is a better citizen, and has a saner outlook on life than otherwise would be the case. While I have no desire to condemn the man who carries his swag from place to place, I am of the opinion that he has not that same sense of responsibility that is characteristic of the man who owns his own home. Seeing that this bill will make for a happier and more contented people, it is a step in the right -direction. I am not like Senator Kingsmill, who becomes nervous at the mere mention of war service homes.
– He hasreason to be nervous.
– I admit that many blunders were made in connexion with the war service homes, but, despite those blunders, those homes as such have been a great success. The latest returns available show that only about 11/2 per cent, of those who obtained war service homes are behind with their payments.
– The blunders made were blunders of administration.
– That is so. The war service homes scheme has been an extraordinary success, seeing that only 11/2 per cent, of those who have built under it are behind in their payments. Quite apart from the financial aspect, the Government has reaped a reward from the number of contented people in has provided with homes.
– That is quite right.
– There is one man in the Senate now who has been made contented as a result of the operations of this department. The contentment is a good return to the Government for what it has spent. I know that some people take exception to the Federal Government entering into what they say is a purely State matter, but at the present time the States are not in the position to undertake this work. Hitherto they have not taken it up, and have limited themselves to a class of home costing between £700 and £800. The present measure provides for homes costing up to £1,800. I think the proposal of the Government to advance up to 90 per cent, of the value of the house is a very generous one, and judging from our experience with the war service homes, I think the Government is justified in making this advance. It is a very safe investment for the savings bank’s funds. Most of the money in the savings bank is deposited by the workers, and I do not think that there could be a better investment for the people’s savings than building homes for the people themselves. I think, however, that if the deposits in the Commonwealth Savings Bank are to be used for home building, it is only right that the depositors should receive the same rate of interest as is paid by the State savings banks. I do not think that the granting of such an increased rate of interest would interfere in any way with the price of the homes under this scheme.
The members of the Public Works Committee to which 1 belong have inspected workmen’s dwellings in all the States of the Commonwealth. The State which deserves most credit for its efforts, and in which the best results have been obtained, both from the point of view of the Government and of the home purchasers, is South Australia. I can discuss the subject, quite impartially. I know something about building, having been brought up in that trade myself, and I say that if the federal scheme is carried out as satisfactorily as that in South Australia, we shall have no reason to complain. There is no better class of building to be had in Australia for the same money than are those erected under the South Australian scheme. The finish of the homes, and the method of construction, provide the best value for the money paid of any working-class homes in Australia. We also visited some of the homes in and about Sydney, and while in the early days some mistakes were made, the homes built during the last few years have been a credit to the department. The same thing applies to my own State. At first mistakes were made in all the States, but now, as the result of greater experience and more careful inspection, better value is being provided for the people who purchase the houses. There is little danger now that money will be wasted in the construction of these homes. I am very glad that this scheme will apply to the Federal Capital. Territory. As a. committee, we inspected many of the homes erected here, and there is no doubt that, for the money paid, there is less value provided in the Canberra homes than anywhere else in Australia. In. some cases the homes here cost double as much as they would in South Australia. In that State it is possible to get a splendid home built for a little over £700. For the same class of house in Canberra, but one which is not so well finished nor so convenient, the commission is asking £1,400 or £1,500, I am. told that the design of these houses was submitted to the Architects’ Association in Sydney, and received the approval of that body. Being merely a layman, I cannot speak with authority on such subjects, but at the same time, I do not think very much of their plans. If
Canberra is to attract more people, it is necessary that facilities should be provided for building cheap homes. Even from a rent point of view,houses in the Territory are costing a great deal too much. I hope that whatever authority is appointed in Canberra to act under this scheme will be able to build homes for the people at satisfactory prices.
– Will the honorable senator tell us whether theseadvances are to be made on leasehold land, the only kind obtainable in Canberra?
– I have no information on that point, but that system of land tenure exists in other parts of Australia-. The cost of some of the homes already erected in this Territory is a very heavy burden for the purchaser to carry, and by the time that he has cleared off his indebtedness, he will have arrived at an age when he must retire from the service. Some effort should be made at once to reduce the cost of building in Canberra. Before the Government makes this money available for building in the Federal Capital Territory, it “should make a study of what is being done in the States, and discover if possible, a means for getting better value for the money spent-
– We are rather isolated here.
– I admit the isolation, but still it is no greater than that of many districts in which the States have built homes at prices greatly below those prevailing here. Canberra is, growing continuously, and eventually, it is hoped, will have a large population. I cannot see why it should be at such a disadvantage in the building of homes. I am very pleased to support this housing scheme because I think it will help to promote a contented population.
[8.43]. - It is very pleasing to hear in the speeches of honorable senators so much general approval of this measure. As the last speaker pointed out, the provision of decent homes for the people is a very good investment for any country. We have received information from Great Britain, and from the Continent, that the governments there are giving serious consideration to this matter. The State authorities have done, and are doing, a great deal to improve the housing conditions of the people; but there is room for an enlargement of the scope of their activities. Nothing tends more strongly towards thrift than building schemes such a- that which is contemplated under this measure; because, when a person with little capital sets out to acquire a home, the primary consideration is the discharging of the mortgage. The encouragement of thrift in any community is most desirable. Although certain honora ble senators opposite have offered a mild criticism of the bill, I believe it is not the intention of any to vote against it. Senator Needham asked whether the States were consulted prior to the introduction of the measure; if they were, what would be the position if any State declined to participate in the scheme; and, further, would it remain inoperative until all the States had fallen into line, or could it be put into effect when the sanction of one State had been obtained? The Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page ) has discussed the proposal with every State Government or State savings bank authority, except that in Western Australia, and there are indications that every house-building authority will cooperate with the Commonwealth. It will not be necessary to wait until all States are ready to participate before putting the scheme into operation. If the laws of a State permit of its house-building authority making advances on the terms stipulated in the bill, the act will become operative in that State immediately upon proclamation. In States in which those conditions do not apply the scheme will begin to operate so soon as their laws have been amended in the required direction. Senator Findley claimed that the house shortage no longer existed, and that therefore there was no necessity for this scheme. The last census revealed the fact that 48 per cent. of. the residents in the Commonwealth did not own the houses in which they lived. Although building operations have been active within the last five or six years, there are still quite a number of people who live in houses that they do not own, but who have aspirations in that direction. Senator Duncan’s statement that the increase in the population rendered necessary the provision of an additional 28,000 houses every year should convince honorable senators that the demand is considerable, and that the State authorities must be assisted to meet it. This scheme sets out to liberalize those schemes that are in operation in the various States.
– It will not have that effect in Victoria.
SenatorSir WILLIAM GLASGOW. -It will. The man in Victoria who earns more than £400 a year cannot now obtain from the State an advance to enable him to acquire a home under the Housing Act. On the other hand, those who are in receipt of £12 a week will be permitted to participate in this scheme. The amount of the advance - £1,800 - is considerably greater than any that is now made. Honorable senators are very well aware that a man who has a large family would find it difficult to accommodate them in a house costing only £850.
– The maximum in Victoria is £1,300.
– Not yet. The Victorian Parliament has at present under consideration a measure which makes provision for an advance up to that amount. This scheme will enable a person to purchase an- existing home, or to lift a mortgage: I say definitely that it liberalizes existing schemes. Senator ‘ Chapman expressed doubt as to whether the funds that will be made available from increased savings bank deposits and repayments of loans will be sufficient to afford any assistance. In the year 1925-26 the depositors’ balances in the Commonwealth Savings Bank increased by almost £2,000,000. If that rate is maintained, approximately £1,000,000 a year will be available from that source. A considerable sum also will be represented by 25 per cent, of the amount of loans repaid. I point out to Senator Chapman that the £20,000,000 is to be made available, not immediately, hut as it is required. It was also claimed that the interest rate of 5 per cent, which is charged on advances made under the Queensland housing scheme is the lowest in the Commonwealth. The reason is that the money necessary tofinance that scheme is obtained by virtue of an agreement which was entered into between the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Savings Bank, under which the Government is entitled to 70 per cent, of the increased deposits in the bank.
– At what rate of interest will the money be advanced?
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.The effective rate at which it is raised by the Commonwealth for the savings bank. No authority can obtain it at a lower rate than the Commonwealth Government. The rate which the Commonwealth Savings Bank at present pays on savings bank deposits is 31/2 per cent. That money may be made available at a cheaper rate than loans which have to be raised by the Commonwealth Government, because it is not able toborrow so cheaply. I cannot agree with Senator Duncan’s statement that this scheme may have the effect of increasing the cost of building. It will be handled by the State authorities, who already have all the machinery to give effect to it, and the overhead charges spread over their increased building activities as the result of this scheme, should be proportionately lower. They are now able to regulate building operations, and they surely would not disregard the capacity of skilled workmen to provide the necessary labour. The cost of land and buildings must necessarily regulate the value of houses. I regret that I cannot hold out to Senator Kingsmill any hope that the residential conditions will be eliminated from the scheme. Every State scheme embodies a provision which places upon the person to whom an advance is made the responsibility of living in the house which is erected or purchased with these funds. If we allowed an individual to obtain an advance for the purchase of a home, and did. not compel him to reside in it, encouragement would be given to investments for rental purposes. That is not advisable.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
– I should like to know if it is proposed to create the Federal Capital Commission an authority for the purposes of this bill, whether any municipal authority in any part of Australia is clothed with power to undertake the building of houses, and, if so, what work is being done by any municipal authority in this direction? I should also like to know whether there has been any consultation between the Commonwealth and established State authorities? The Minister in charge of the bill has said that such consultation has taken place, but I read the debate that took place on this bill in another place, and if my memory serves me well, in only two cases were there any such consultations, and those were only of an informal nature. In Victoria the State Savings Bank is doing magnificent work in the building of houses, and I should like to know from the Minister what opinion was expressed by that authority, if it was consulted, about the main provision of this bill to afford to persons in receipt of salaries up to £12 a week an opportunity to secure financial accommodation to the extent of 90 per cent, of the value of a house. I am anxious to get that information because I should like to know if the State housing authority in Victoria has agreed to perform the work which will be required after the passage of this bill. It would mean that the State Savings Bank would be administering two schemes, the Commonwealth’s one and its own, which is better and more liberal than that which is now proposed.
SenatorReid.-In what way is it more liberal?
– Because of the deposit required. I cannot go over the ground again, but on the second rending I proved conclusively that the Victorian scheme is more liberal than the one we have now before us.
– The present Victorian scheme is not more liberal than the one the Commonwealth has proposed.
– The Victorian scheme is much more liberal than the Commonwealth up to the £1,350 advance.
– Is the honorable senator in order in discussing the general provisions of the bill when we should be dealing with definitions?
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The honorable senator is asking the Minister for certain information, which I presume the Minister will give him.
– I thought every honorable senator, with perhaps the exception of Senator Payne, would be anxious to get the fullest information in regard to this clause. The Commonwealth scheme is not more liberal than the Victorian scheme up to an advance of £1,350. The difference between the two schemes lies in the greater advance that is possible under the Commonwealth scheme. But’ if the State Savings Bank of Victoria is to be created an authority under this Bill it will be administering two housing schemes, and I want to know whether, after being consulted, it has announced its willingness to work the Commonwealth scheme in conjunction with its own.
.- As far as I know there is no municipal authority in Australia administering a housing scheme. In view of the fact that the clause provides that an authority means “ a prescribed Commonwealth, Territorial, State or municipal authority, which administers a scheme for providing or assisting in providing dwelling houses,” and the further fact that there is no municipal authority in Australia, so far as I know, that administers such a scheme, I should like to know if the Minister can suggest an alteration to the clause by which a municipal authority may be included, if it ever administers a housing scheme.
[9.10]. - I do not know of any municipal authority which now administers a housing scheme, but there are municipal authorities which have power to do so under the Local Government Acts of the States.
– Sydney has power to do so.
– Every municipality in Victoria has the power.
– I may inform Senator Findley that the Federal Capital Commission can be created an authority under this bill. I told the Senate, probably during the honorable senator’s absence from the chamber, that the Treasurer had discussed the housing scheme with the State Governments or the State Savings Bank authorities in all the States with the exception of Western Australia.. As a matter of fact, the maximum amount of £1,800 was suggested by the Victorian Savings Bank Commissioners.
– The Minister has not named any municipal authority in Australia that has power to build houses, and he has not fully answered the question put to him in regard to the consultation with the States. It is truethat he said that all the State Governments or State Savings Bank authorities had been consulted except in the case of Western Australia. He said that the matter had been discussed with the savings bank authorities; but the Minister did not tell us that the State authorities had agreed to accept the scheme. I put this question, because clause 9 states definitely that no advance shall be made by the savings bank to any State authority unless the State housing legislation is amended to bring it into conformity with this measure.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [9.17]. - I have already told the honorable senator that either the State Governments or the State Savings Bank authorities administering the housing scheme in the various States, with the exception of Western Australia, were consulted. I cannot inform him whether they have agreed to adopt the scheme. Obviously an agreement on that point could not be reached until the legislation had been passed by this Parliament. I can, however, say that the indications are that the State authorities will accept it, and, where necessary, amend their legislation accordingly.
– The Minister’s explanation is unsatisfactory.
– I cannot give the honorable senator any further information.
– Well, we will endeavour to get a little more light on the subject. The Minister has just repeated what we were told during the second reading of the bill. He has stated that the Savings Bank Commissioners or representatives of the State Governments were consulted, except in Western Australia. I accept that statement; but what we want to know is the attitude they took towards this legislation ? It was most unbusinesslike to introduce a. bill of this nature before ascertaining definitely how the representatives of the States would regard it. Ministers must have had some idea of the lines upon which the housing scheme would be modelled, though, if we may judge by what happened in connexion with the Savings Bank Bill, they do not know from day to day what they are going to do? Apparently it was only at the eleventh hour that the directors of the Commonwealth Bank really comprehended what the bill means to them. I should think that, if the Government wished to work in co-operation with’ the States in launching this housing scheme, it would have had serious consultations with representatives of the various States, and ascertained definitely their views on the subject. Honorable senators, in their capacity as business men, would not act as the Government has done, in connexion with this bill. We have been informed that the decision to fix the amount of advance at £1,800 was the result of a suggestion made by the Victorian Savings Bank Commissioners. I do not doubt that for a moment. All I wish to point out is that unless the Victorian Government amends its housing legislation, the Savings Bank Commissioners of that State will not administer the scheme in Victoria.
– The Minister’s reply has cleared away some of the doubt that existed in honorable senator’s minds as to .the eligibility of certain municipal authorities to administer the scheme. It is provided in clause 6 that advances may be made only * to authorities as prescribed. Can the Minister say if the local governing authorities at, say, Blackall, in Queensland, Kalgoorlie, in Western Australia, or Ulverstone, in Tasmania, will be regarded as prescribed authorities under this bill? If they are not, then it would appear that ‘ all the advantages to be derived from the Commonwealth housing proposal will be enjoyed only by highly organized municipalities, whereas the intention is to make it available even to people living within small municipalities in various parts of the Commonwealth. -
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence) 9.26 J. - If the act which constitutes the authorities referred to by the honorable senator empowers them to build houses, they will be regarded as prescribed authorities within the meaning of this measure.
.- This matter has been exercising my mind a good deal, and I should like to have all doubts removed. If necessary, the clause can be amended. I understand that certain municipalities in Australia are empowered by State Acts of Parliament to carry out house-building schemes, but have not done so. In the definition clause, “ authority “ means, inter alia, a State or municipal authority which administers a scheme for providing or assisting in providing dwelling houses. To meet possible difficulties which I foresee, I suggest that after the word “ administers “ the words “” or has power to administer “ be inserted. If this is done, municipalities which are empowered to administer housing schemes, but which have not been actively engaged in housing schemes, will be eligible to come under the scheme.
– If such municipalities have authority under a State act to build houses, they will be regarded as administering a scheme and be eligible.
.- To me it’ is quite clear that if any municipal authority has power under the act constituting it to build houses, it will come under this scheme. Certain municipalities have not engaged in this business because the State Governments have done all that is necessary. Senator Findley had a good deal to say about consultations between the Commonwealth and State authorities, and wished to know if. the latter had agreed to carry out this work. I fail to see what that has to do with the question. We are proposing to empower the Commonwealth Bank to advance money to local authorities should they wish to take advantage of the scheme. Would any State authority refuse to participate in a scheme which would benefit its citizens? It is time that there are ©some obstinate people in the world. There are even obstinate governments. Honorable senators will remember the obstinacy of the Lang Government in New South Wales in connexion with the Federal road scheme. If, in that instance, the Commonwealth had waited for unanimity among the States, that scheme would never have been agreed to. Should Victoria refuse to accept this scheme that will be her own misfortune. But I do not think that even the Government of that conservative “State will refuse to participate in this scheme.
– Senator Reid has opened up a new phase of this question. During the last election campaign the Government said that, if returned to power, it would introduce a scheme to provide homes for the people. This bill is the result of that promise. Now Senator Reid says that the Government’s policy is to require the States to do the work, otherwise they will receive no benefit from the scheme. “The Government knows that the housing schemes of the various States have been working well for many years, and that there has been no difficulty in obtaining the money to finance them.
– Some of the States have experienced great difficulty in financing their housing schemes.
– Whatever money is required is provided through the Loan Council. So far there has been no difficulty in that direction. The Government’s policy can now be summarized in the words, “ Take it or leave it.” Is that a policy for any government to adopt? i:»i.r>.i
The Minister unblushingly tells us that the Government had an informal discussion with five of the State authorities.
– I did not ‘ use the word “ informal.”
– The Minister said that there was a discussion; but when questioned whether the State authorities agreed to participate in the scheme he was unable to give a definite reply, except that the States were not. aware of the Government’s actual proposals until this bill had been introduced. I cannot understand a conference being held under those conditions. The whole scheme should have been placed before the States. So far, Western Australia has not joined in any discussion of this scheme. I can hardly think that that important State was ignored in the matter. Possibly the Government of Western Australia had good reasons for not participating in the discussion. Seeing, that the bill provides that the States must amend their existing legislation before they can take advantage of this scheme, it would be better for us to postpone further consideration of this measure until there has been another conference between the Commonwealth and the States.
– I take it that a municipal authority which, under a State Local Government Act is authorized to administer a housing scheme, would be an authority within the meaning of this clause, but if it had no such powers under State legislation it could not be such an authority without an amendment of the State Local Government Act.
– That is so.
– Would such a municipal authority be an authority governed and controlled by the State Parliament, or would it be able to deal directly with the Commonwealth?
– It would bc an authority which could deal directly with the Commonwealth, but the power to do so would have to be granted under a State Local Government Act.
– If a municipal authority was empowered to deal with a housing scheme, would it be able to deal directly with the savings bank?
– It would be in the same position as that occupied by the Federal Capital Commission.
– I do not think that the Minister quite grasped Senator Payne’s meaning. A municipal authority which was actually administering a housing scheme at the passing of this act would be an authority under this clause; but what would be the. position of a municipal authority which, although empowered to administer a. housing scheme, had not actually clone so? I remind the Minister of a decision of the High Court in connexion with companies formed under the Companies Act. The Constitution empowers the Commonwealth to control companies “formed within the Commonwealth.” The High Court ruled that the word “ formed “ referred only to such companies as had actually been formed, and not to those which might be formed later. Senator Payne asked whether only those municipal authorities which at the passing of this act were actually administering housing schemes could be prescribed authorities under this clause, and whether a municipal authority which, although empowered to do so, was not actually administering a scheme at the passing of this act would be debarred from participating in the scheme. The Minister should make the position clear.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [9.42]. - Senator Payne asked whether a municipal authority which had power to build homes could participate in this scheme even though at the time of the passing of this act it was not actually administering a housing scheme, and I replied that it could. If. it administers a housing scheme during the time that this act is in force it may become an authority.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Advances to be subject to this act).
.- I desire to ask the Minister in charge of the bill what would be the limit of the advance which the savings bank could make under this clause?
– (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [9.45]. - The reply to the honorable gentleman is to be found in clause 9, paragraph (b), sub-clause 2, which says -
A loan is not made for the purpose of discharging a mortgage unless the conditions of the mortgage, or the conditions of any further loans on the property, are, in the opinion of the authority, unduly disadvantageous to the mortgagor.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 (Authorities to which advances may be made).
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia [9.48]. - Will the Minister inform the Senate whether it is the advances which are to be prescribed, as provided for in this clause, or whether it is the “ authority.” To my mind the clause is not very clear as it stands.
– The advances will be as prescribed.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 (Method of making advances).
– Clause 7 lays down the basis of the fund, and according to this clause,. 50 per cent of the increase in deposits in the savings bank will be available for the housing scheme. The funds so available will be supplemented, if necessary, by borrowing as provided for in clause 10. Queensland and Tasmania have in operation agreements under which we cannot expect to obtain anything at all for this purpose from the increase in deposits in those States. Under the Queensland agreement 70 per cent, of the increased deposits are earmarked for State purposes, and the other 30 per cent, is to be disposed of as the State Treasurer directs. The same applies to Tasmania. It is therefore apparent that the money for this fund can come only from the other four States if they agree to work under the scheme, these States being Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. Can the Minister give us an estimate of what money may be expected from this source - that is to say, 50 per cent, of the increase in the deposits in those four States? It might be possible to estimate this sum from the money already in the hands of the savings bank. If we can arrive at some such estimate, we shall then be able to determine’ approximately how much money it will be necessary to borrow from time to time to carry on the scheme.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [9.51]. - I have already given an estimate of the money which it is anticipated will be available from this source. On the basis of the increase in deposits last year, it is expected that a sum of £1,000,000 per annum will be available. The money required by the various building authorities prescribed under the act will be derived from this sum, and onefourth of the repayments. Anything over and above that will be obtained by borrowing as set out in the bill.
– It appears to me that a great deal of the money which will be spent under this scheme will be borrowed money.
– Then the honorable senator does anticipate that we will spend more than £1,000,000 a year?
– The Commonwealth Government cannot spend a penny except through the State authorities. But assuming that the State Governments amend their existing legislation to allow of this, practically all the money required will have to be raised by loan.
– Does the honorable senator not anticipate any increase in the deposits in the Commonwealth Savings Bank?
– Let us go into this matter in a business-like way. Fifty per cent, of the increased deposits in the Commonwealth Savings Bank will be made available under this scheme for the purposes named in the bill. As far as two States are concerned there will be no money available from that source.
– Nonsense! ‘
– It is not nonsense. The Minister does not understand the position. I have given careful attention to this bill, and I am familiar with the amalgamation agreement between the
Queensland State Savings Bank and the Commonwealth Savings Bank, and I know that under that amalgamation agreement 70 per cent, of the increase in deposits in the Commonwealth Savings Bank is ear marked, and the remaining 30 per cent, is to be expended in directions stipulated by the State Treasurer. Tasmania has a similar agreement, so that there will be no money available from increases in deposits in those two States.
– That 30 per cent, is not under the State Treasurer. It goes into the general Savings Bank funds.
– But under the amalgamation agreement a board of advice was created consisting of a director of the Commonwealth Savings Bank and the Treasurer of Queensland, and in all cases 30 per cent, of the increased deposits has been spent as the State Treasurer directs. Now we come to the increased deposits in the Savings Bank in the other four States. The amount of money to the credit of the Commonwealth Savings Bank is £47,000,000, of which £22,000,000 is deposited in Queensland. Increased deposits in the Commonwealth Savings Bank will not be sufficiently great to merit serious consideration. The reason for this is that the rates of interest in the State Savings Banks are higher, and in all the States those entrusted with the management of the State savings banks do everything they can to suit the convenience of depositors. In addition to giving a higher rate of interest, they provide facilities’ for the thrifty to deposit their savings on Friday evening, the night on which most of the workers are paid. In the case of the Commonwealth Savings Bank most of the branches’ are in post offices, the doors of which are closed on Saturday afternoon and on Friday evening. They do not cater for the people in the same way as do the State savings banks. While the deposits in the State savings banks are increasing enormously, there is no marked increase in those in the Commonwealth Savings Bank.
– There was an increase of £2,000,000 last year.
– What is £2,000,000? It is a mere bagatelle as compared with the increases in the Victorian State Savings Bank. That bank has a reserve of over £2,000,000, and its deposits amount to £60,000,000, as compared with £47,000,000 in the Commonwealth Savings Bank for the whole of Australia. Even of that sum, by far the larger portion is derived from Queensland and Tasmania, where there are no State savings banks, and where the people have no choice but to deposit their money with the Commonwealth Savings Bank. Of that £2,000,000 increase, nothing like 50 per cent, will be available for housing, as most of the money in respect to Queensland and Tasmania has been already allocated. We may take it, then, that practically all the money required under this scheme will be borrowed, and it could be borrowed through the Federal Loan Council apart altogether from this bill. This bill provides for a purely borrowing scheme, and it is all fudge to say that £1,000,000 a year will be available from the increase of deposits in the Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [9.57]. - I have already pointed but that if the increase of deposits in 1925-26 is maintained, there will be available from the Commonwealth Savings Bank a sum of £1,000,000 for this housing scheme. On 30th June, 1926, the total funds of the Commonwealth Savings Bank amounted to £47,000,000. Of that sum £40,000,000 was invested in Commonwealth, State, and local bodies’ securities. Of the loans which fall due and are not renewed 25 per cent, will be available for the scheme under this bill. Therefore, there will be a considerable sum of money available almost immediately without borrowing; but if the demands from the various State or local government authorities who wish to come under the scheme are greater than the amount obtainable from the 50 per ‘ cent. of the increase in deposits, and 25 per cent, of the loans falling due and not renewed, the Government will certainly have to borrow.
– Senator Findley has argued forcefully that the amount which will be available from the increase in deposits in the Queensland branch of the Commonwealth Savings Bank will not be sufficient to meet the requirements of this scheme in that State. The operations of thatbank extend over the whole of Australia, and my understanding of the position is that the amount which the directors may make available out of the increased deposits will bear a relation to the total surplus, and will not be governed by the surplus in any particular State. I should like the Minister to inform me if I am right.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [10.1]. - Senator Reid has correctly stated the position. I point out to honorable senators that 55 per cent, of the funds of the Victorian Savings Bank are invested in Commonwealth, State, and local securities, 17 per cent, in advances for homes and shops, 4.19 per cent, in advances on the purchase of land, 1.83 per cent, in mortgage securities, &c., that are not divisible, and the balance is held in cash, including deposits and accrued interest. It will, therefore, he seen that in Victoria a large proportion of those funds is invested in the Commonwealth, State and local securities, just as is the case in Queensland.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 -
An advance shall not be made by the Savings Bank to an authority until the commission is satisfied -
that since the passing of this act the powers of that authority in relation to housing have been increased so as to extend, in respect of that advance the existing facilities provided under the housing schemes of that authority in order to cover the matters hereunder specified (if the existing powers are not sufficient to cover those matters), that is to say -
by providing for the purchase of dwelling houses;
by providing that the maximum amount which maybe lent by the authority to any one person shall be One thousand eight hundred pounds, and shall be ninety per centum of the valuation made, by or on behalf of the authority, of the property in respect of which the loan is made; and
by omitting from the existing schemes any provision which excludes from the benefits of the schemes a person in receipt of an income (as determined by the authority) not exceeding Twelve pounds per week; and ….
– The housing authority in Western Australia is not empoweredto advance up to £1,800, nor is itbound by many of the other conditions that are here stipulated. Does the clause mean that until that State alters its law so as to conform to those conditions, it will not be able to participate in the scheme?
– That is right.
– Is it not obvious that that must be done?
– That is a “ take it or leave it “ policy, and we are vindicated in our claim that an agreement should have been reached with the States and that a draft of the scheme should have been submitted to them, before this measure was introduced.
. I should like the Minister to inform me if it will be obligatory on the State or municipal authorities to lend up to 90 per cent, of the valuation of a property ?
– The clause pre-supposes that there will be applicants for houses of a value of £2,000, and that the building authority will be empowered to advance up to £1,800. I wish to know whether, in addition to the difference of £200, the intending builder will need to have land that is free from encumbrance? Under the Victorian scheme the deposit required is a. very small one, and a man need not have paid for his land. That authority has never turned down a bona fide applicant. Will the amount of the advance under this scheme be calculated on the value of the house only, or the combined value of the house and the land?
[10.11]. - The authority will advance up to 90 per cent on the value of the house and laud. If that security is valued at £2,000, the amount of the advance will be £1,800. In reply to Senator Sampson, I wish to say that it will be obligatory on the State authority to advance up to 90 per cent, of the valuation, but no man will be compelled to accept from that authority a sum greater than that which he wishes to have advanced to him.
. -It is proposed to advance up to 90 per cent, on the value of a property. Are we to understand that that will include the land?
– I have said quite clearly that it will.
– Then I say that it is by no means a liberal measure. It would be unwise to build on anything less than a 50 ft. frontage in the Melbourne metropolitan area, and the price of such a piece of land would be £500.
– Land can be purchased for £3 a foot in the city of Brighton.
– Assuming the payment of £500 for the land, on a £2,000 proposition, the value of the house would be £1,500. First of all an intending builder will be required to have his land bought and paid for. Then he will be asked to find £200 on a £1,500 proposition. Therefore, the only difference between this and the Victorian scheme, as it will be under the amended law in that State, will be the difference between a £1,500 and a £1,300 house.
– If what the honorable senator says is correct, Victoria will not want the Commonwealth scheme, and will not come under it.
– I do not wish it to go abroad that the Commonwealth scheme is a wonderfully liberal one. It is not a. liberal scheme if the maximum advance covers land and house.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland Minister for Defence) [10.16]. - Do I understand Senator Findley to say that the Victorian Savings Bank under its scheme will advance £1,350 for the erectionof a home on a piece of land?
– Yes, if the land and the house are worth £1,350.
– That is a different proposition. The honorable senator tried to mislead the House by saying that if a .man had a block of land worth £500 he could get an advance of £1,350 from the State Savings Bank.
– I had no intention of misleading the Senate.
-I accept the honorable senator’s assurance. It seemed to me that it was his intention to mislead the Senate.
– Under this clause the value of a house and land is to be determined by the authority. It is well to recall the experience gained during the soldier settlement period, when land in many cases was over-valued and, strange to say, with the consent and approval of the very men who were to pay the prices fixed. The managing director of the Agricultural Bank of Western Australia told me that he had often to stand between the would-be purchaser - the returned soldier - and the vendor. I suggest the wisdom of reserving to the commissioners an overriding or reserved authority to revalue, if necessary, any valuation made by a local authority.
– There is sufficient protection in the fact that the local authority is responsible to the commissioners for the repayment of the money advanced.
– I am sorry the Minister charged me with deliberately setting out to deceive the committee. I had no intention of doing so. It is the last thing I should ever attempt to do in any circumcumstances. I was merely endeavouring to point out that, under the latest housing scheme in Victoria on a £1,350 proposition, which, of course, includes the land, the deposit by the intending builder is very small indeed. It does not affect my case if the land on which the house is built is not paid for. The total liability on both house and land is £1,350. My idea of the Commonwealth’s proposal was that a person desirous of putting up a house costing £2,000 would require to provide £200 of his own, and would secure an advance of £1,800, and I was anxious to know whether the value of the land was in addition to the £2,000, because, if that were so, in the case of land in the inner suburbs of Melbourne, where a 50-ft. block costs at least £500, it would mean a proposition of £2,500.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland - Minister for Defence) [10.23]. - The conditions applying to the Victorian scheme will apply to the Commonwealth scheme. The only difference is that, whereas the Victorian advance is limited to £1,350, covering land and house, the Commonwealth advance is extended to £1,800, which represents 90 per cent, of a property - land and house - which is valued at £2,000.
– I do not see in this clause any provision which insists on that continuous residence which is necessary to prevent the trafficking in houses referred to by the Minister. If we are to prevent an individual from acquiring a house one day and letting it to. his own advantage to some other person the next day, it seems to me that the clause will need to be amended. The clause refers only to the necessity for immediate residence after the purchase or erection of a dwelling. Of course, there are circumstances in which it would be a hardship to insist on compulsory residence, say, in cases of sickness or family affliction, but with these exceptions I think the law should more rigidly insist on compulsory residence in these houses.
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW (Queensland’ - Minister for Defence) [10.26]. - If a person obtains an advance to build a house or lift a mortgage he must reside in the house immediately it is completed, or must be residing in it at the time the mortgage- is lifted. If afterwards he desires to sell the house he is at liberty to do so provided he pays off the mortgage. If he pays off the mortgage he can do as he likes, but while he has an advance from the authority he must reside in the house on which the advance has been made.
. I do not quite understand the mandatory provision that the amount of the advance shall be 90 per cent., and I should like to have it further explained.
[10.29] . -The 90 per cent, covers any advance, which may be £1,800 or a smaller amount, hut whatever the advance may be it is mandatory that it shall not exceed 90 per cent, of the value of the property.
Clause agreed to.
Clause . 10 verbally amended and agreed to.
Clause 11 (Regulations).
– A few minutes ago Senator Lynch raised the question whether it would be possible for a person to obtain an advance under this measure for the building of a home, and after living in it for a few weeks, let it to a tenant?
– The regulations governing the various State housing schemes will safeguard the position.
– It has occurred to me that it might be possible for an applicant to obtain an advance under this measure, and fail to comply with the provisions as to residence, in which case the security might disappear.
(10.34]. - I remind the honorable senator that besides the mortgagee, the mortgagor will have an equity in any dwellinghouse or building erected or purchased under the provisions of this bill. The mortgagee would not allow any person who had received an advance to vacate a property, unless he discharged the mortgage; and the mortgagor, for his part, would not risk losing his interest in a property by neglecting it.
Clause agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Senate adjourned 10.37 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 November 1927, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1927/19271123_senate_10_116/>.