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Research Guides


Land of Opportunity: Australia's post-war reconstruction


Housing

Until World War II, the role of Australian governments in the provision of housing was quite limited. In 1919 the Commonwealth Government set up the War Service Homes Commission, which assisted ex-servicemen to obtain loans for the acquisition or erection of homes. The Commonwealth Housing Act 1928 was designed to assist potential home owners by empowering the Commonwealth Savings Bank to advance funds to housing authorities, but the scheme lapsed during the Depression. In 1941 the government created the Commonwealth War Workers Housing Trust to provide housing for munitions workers and other war workers. At the state level, housing commissions were established in South Australia (1936), Victoria (1938) and New South Wales (1942). The South Australian Housing Trust took the lead in providing rental housing to low-income earners and its early achievements exerted a strong influence on wartime housing inquiries and social reformers. The Victorian Housing Commission also began building homes for low-income rental in 1939, as well as embarking on a major slum clearance scheme.

By 1942 housing was seen as one of the main pillars of post-war reconstruction and there were high public expectations of government action to remedy housing shortages and abolish slums. In their book Housing the Australian Nation (1942), FO Barnett and WO Burt estimated that the housing shortage in Australia amounted to 112,000, while 46,000 houses were unfit for human habitation and should be demolished. They saw a need for a Commonwealth Housing Commission, but it would be state housing commissions which would have the task of abolishing slums, determining minimum standards, zoning residential and other areas, and providing housing at a rental within the capacity of lower-income tenants. The commissions would also provide houses for purchase or leasing by 'economic' tenants.

Like Barnett and Burt, the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Social Security placed a great deal of emphasis on healthy housing and the abolition of slums. In its fourth report (May 1942), it recommended that the Commonwealth immediately undertake the task of planning and research towards establishing a national housing scheme. Soon afterwards the Reconstruction Division began studying the housing problem, encouraged by Barnett and other reformers. In November 1942 Arthur Tange wrote an extensive memorandum on the building industry, in which he suggested a post-war target of 68,000 houses per annum. His figure took into account such factors as the elimination of slums and likely population growth, as well as the drastic slump in house building since the start of the war.

Commonwealth Housing Commission

Within days of arriving in Canberra in January 1943, HC Coombs was discussing with his departmental colleagues the formation of a housing commission. The Commonwealth Housing Commission was set up under national security regulations in April 1943 to report on all aspects of housing in Australia and to recommend plans for the provision of housing in the post-war years. It was chaired by Leo O'Connor and the other members were JS Gawler, CV Howard, Mary Ryan and AV Thompson. The architect Walter Bunning was the Executive Officer and the economist Wilmott Phillips was the Secretary. They worked closely with several of the research staff of the Department of Post War Reconstruction, particularly Grenfell Rudduck and Ronald Mendelsohn. (Mendelsohn had had a strong influence on the housing proposals of the Joint Parliamentary Committee.) The commissioners were extremely active. During 1943 they visited 53 towns in every state, heard 948 witnesses and received submissions from numerous housing authorities and societies, professional bodies, welfare groups, manufacturers, political organisations and individuals. Phillips coordinated the work of the commissioners with great skill, while Bunning exerted considerable influence on their recommendations. Interim reports were presented to Chifley in October 1943 and March 1944, while the final report, totalling more than 300 pages, was completed in August 1944.

The 95 recommendations of the Commonwealth Housing Commission dealt, in varying detail, with a plethora of subjects: low-cost housing, housing standards, types of houses, building materials, housing density, slum clearance, town and regional planning, community facilities, rural housing, building research, and housing subsidies. Despite its broad terms of reference, it only dealt cursorily with the current housing situation in Australia or with private sector housing in the post-war period. Its primary concern was with the provision of public housing for low-income workers. It estimated that by 1945 there would be a shortage of 300,000 houses and it set a 10-year target of 700,000 houses to overcome the backlog of housing, normal annual replacements and the replacement of slums. (Construction in 1945–55 came quite close to this figure.) The commission considered that about half the projected construction would need to be financed by governments and would be mainly for rental. Ignoring constitutional limitations and the sensitivities of state governments, it envisaged a Commonwealth housing authority and a Commonwealth planning authority working in harmony with state, regional and local authorities. The report influenced two generations of architectural students and town planners, but most of its recommendations were ignored or not implemented by governments.

Housing agreement

The Curtin government had no interest in direct control of housing, and housing was not included in the 14 powers referendum in August 1944. However, it willingly accepted the principle of Commonwealth financial assistance to state and local authorities in the provision of housing for those on low incomes. A draft housing agreement was sent to the states in January 1944 and negotiations with them continued for nearly two years. The original agreement contained rental housing and home purchase components. The states were recognised as principals, but the Commonwealth expected a national housing plan to entail agreement on housing standards, slum clearance, town planning, types of dwellings, site plans, estimates of costs, estimates of rents and other substantial matters. Led by Thomas Playford, the states resisted these proposals. Commonwealth financial assistance was acceptable, but not Commonwealth supervision and administrative involvement. One consequence of state obstruction was the decision of the Commonwealth in August 1945 to abandon the home purchase provisions. The Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement, which was ratified by Parliament in September 1945, was confined to the provision of rental housing for low income earners. As Dedman acknowledged, it was a compromise and hardly amounted to a national housing policy.

Under the Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement, the Commonwealth made advances to the states for the construction of low-cost housing, to be repaid by the states over 53 years. The agreement embodied the principle that a family living on the basic wage should not pay more than 20 per cent of their income on rent. If the 'economic rent' of a house exceeded this amount, the difference would be granted as a rental rebate, with the Commonwealth bearing 60 per cent of the resulting loss. There was a deliberate disincentive to home purchase. If a government house was sold to a tenant the state was required to repay to the Commonwealth the total amount of capital invested. As Dedman famously told Parliament, the government was 'not concerned with making workers into little capitalists'. All the states signed the agreement, although South Australia did not utilise it until 1952–53. The initial term was 10 years, but it was renewed several times and it remained in force until the end of 2008.

Housing shortage and construction

For several years after the war there was an acute housing shortage in Australia. In 1946 the Department of Information acknowledged that it was the most urgent and pressing problem facing Australia. Newspapers constantly referred to the 'housing crisis', 'housing fiasco' and 'housing muddle' and they reported countless cases of families living in cramped or squalid dwellings. Many factors contributed to the shortage: difficulties in recruiting and training building tradesmen and labourers, inadequate supplies of bricks and other building materials, the lack of controls over the production and distribution of materials, the increased fertility and formation of families, and mass immigration from 1947 onwards.

Housing construction made remarkable progress, with the number of houses started exceeding annual targets. Completion times, however, were much longer than in pre-war years. In 1945–46, 14,300 houses were completed, compared with 5600 in 1944–45, and in 1947–48 the number increased to 42,867. By March 1949, 132,000 houses and flats had been constructed since the end of the war and an estimated 600,000 people were living in new homes. It had been hoped that government-sponsored housing would account for about half of all houses built, but the proportion was much smaller. In 1945–46, 4028 houses were built under the Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement, 26 per cent of the total, but by 1949–50 the proportion had fallen to 13 per cent. By March 1949, 21,165 houses had been completed under the agreement and advances by the Commonwealth to the states for housing totalled £45 million. Sixty-five per cent of the houses were allocated to ex-servicemen and their dependants. State authorities, in particular the South Australian Housing Trust, had completed another 5347 houses outside the agreement.

Slum clearance figured largely in writings of social reformers and town planners of the 1930s and reports of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Social Security and the Commonwealth Housing Commission. In November 1948 Nelson Lemmon reported to Cabinet that no slum clearance had been undertaken under the Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement. In 1947 a report by the Cumberland County Council stated that 40,000 Sydney homes should be demolished as soon as possible. In 1947–49 the New South Wales government began demolishing slums in Redfern and Newtown and rehousing the tenants in flats. Slum clearance figured prominently in the platforms of political parties, but in the immediate post-war years governments generally concentrated on the housing shortage and deferred decisions about slums.

Cabinet
CURTIN, FORDE AND CHIFLEY MINISTRIES: CABINET MINUTES AND AGENDAS, 1941–49
Series: A2700
Housing problems and administration, 21 October 1943 553
Housing problems and administration, 8 December 1943 553A
Post-war housing plans, 7 December 1943 565
Post-war housing plans, 3 February 1944 565A
Post-war housing plans: Commonwealth–State Agreement, 10 November 1944 565C
Post-war housing plans: War Service Homes Commission, 2 February 1945 776
Manpower for housing, 30 July 1945 895
Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement: slum clearance, 2 November 1948 1540
Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers for Housing, 27 January 1949 1567
Production Executive
PRODUCTION EXECUTIVE AGENDA PAPERS, 1941–45
Series: A2866
W4
JJ Dedman. Housing problems and administration, 3 December 1943
122/1943
W4
EJ Holloway. Housing program 1944, 24 January 1944
122/1943 Supp. 1
W4
JJ Dedman. Housing problems and administration, 4 March 1944
122/1943 Supp. 2
W4
JJ Dedman. Housing problems and administration, 26 April 1944
122/1943 Supp. 3
W4
JJ Dedman. Housing problems and administration, 7 June 1944
122/1943 Supp. 4
W4
JJ Dedman. Housing problems and administration, 16 August 1944
122/1943 Supp. 5
W4
JJ Dedman. Housing problems and administration, 25 November 1944
122/1943 Supp 6
W7
JJ Dedman. Housing problems and administration, 12 May 1945
42/1945
W7
JJ Dedman. Erection of experimental houses, 29 June 1945
67/1945
W7
JJ Dedman. Prefabrication of housing, 29 June 1945
69/1945
W7
JJ Dedman. Use of service camps for temporary civilian dwellings, 29 June 1945
71/1945
W7
JJ Dedman. Commonwealth housing plans: proposed provision for flats, 29 June 1945
73/1945
W7
JJ Dedman. Housing, n.d.
74/1945
Attorney-General's Department
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1929–
Series: A432
Commonwealth and States Housing Agreements Bill, 1944–50
Correspondence concerning the drafting of the 1945 Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement and incorporation of amendments suggested by the states. The correspondents include JB Chifley, HC Coombs, Sir George Knowles, HFE Whitlam and LF Loder.
1945/1334
Commonwealth Housing Commission
COLLECTED EVIDENCE FOR HOUSING COMMISSION REPORT, 1943–44

Documents, reports, photographs and other evidence presented to the Commonwealth Housing Commission and transcripts of hearings.

Series: A11625
Victoria Wangaratta, 1943 Z52
Victorian Housing Commission, 1943 Z70
South Australian Town Planner HC Day, 1943 Z117
Tasmanian Deputy Premier witness E Brooker, 1943–44 Z141
Canberra, 1944 Z203
GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1943–44

Correspondence, minutes, reports, research data and other papers assembled by LPD O'Connor (Chairman), MW Phillips (Secretary) and WR Bunning (Executive Officer) of the Commonwealth Housing Commission.

Series: A11676
Terms of reference, 1943 HC 1943/11
Building labour and material, 1943–44 HC 1943/12
Miscellaneous correspondence with DPWR officers, 1943–44 HC 1943/14
Housing shortage in Australia, 1943–44 HC 1943/52
Notes on possible methods of controlling land speculation, 1943–44 HC 1943/57
Addresses and lectures, 1943–44 HC 1943/111
Estimated construction costs, 1943–44 HC 1943/134
Correspondence with Director-General of Post War Reconstruction, 1943–44 HC 1944/7
Correspondence with Minister for Post War Reconstruction, 1944–45 HC 1944/15
Houses to be built under Government housing scheme, 1944 HC 1944/29
Correspondence with Oswald Burt, 1944 HC 1944/37
Department of Post War Reconstruction
CORRESPONDENCE FILES OF THE ECONOMIC POLICY DIVISION, 1942–50
Series: A9790
Housing: general, 1944–48
Correspondence, minutes, memoranda and newspaper cuttings on the Commonwealth Housing Commission, the 1945 Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement, cooperative building societies, rental rebates, housing standards and housing costs. The correspondents include HC Coombs, AS Brown, MW Phillips and AW Welch.
1621
IDC on Housing, 1949–50 (4 parts)
Agenda papers and report (22 March 1949) of an Inter-Departmental Committee on Housing, chaired by AS Brown, and correspondence on the effects of migration on housing, the importing of prefabricated housing, timber production in Australia, and the report of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Housing and the Building Industry, chaired by N Lemmon. The correspondents include JB Chifley, AS Brown, AW Welch and NF Stuart.
1622
Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, 1947–48
Notes of a conference (12–14 February 1947) of Commonwealth and state housing officers, chaired by LJ Loder, and reports (31 July 1947, 13 September 1948) by LPD O'Connor on state housing authorities and progress made under the Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement.
1623
Housing targets, 1944–48
A report by the National Works Council on housing targets for 1946–47 and correspondence about state housing targets and the dangers of publishing unrealistic targets. The correspondents include JB Chifley, LF Loder and AW Welch.
1624
Prefabricated houses, 1945–50
Notes of a meeting (26 October 1945) of the Prefabrication Committee, chaired by AW Welch, and correspondence between JB Chifley, the state premiers and others on importing prefabricated houses.
1625
Housing cost index, 1948
The first issue of the Housing Cost Index compiled by the Housing Division of the Department of Works and Housing.
1626
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1941–50
Series: A9816
Housing and building industry, 1941–47 (2 parts)
Includes a letter (9 September 1942) from EJ Ward to AA Calwell about a proposed Commonwealth Housing Commission and notes by AH Tange on post-war housing and the building industry.
1943/602
Housing Commission, 1942–44 (3 parts)
Correspondence, minutes and memoranda on the terms of reference of the Commonwealth Housing Commission, personnel and functions, program of work, lists of possible witnesses, research assistance for the commission, visits to country towns, Cabinet decisions on housing, housing shortages and the final report of the commission. The correspondents include JB Chifley, HC Coombs, JG Crawford, AH Tange, LPD O'Connor, MW Phillips and AW Welch.
1943/608
Housing and building industry: Barnett Housing Research, 1941–42
Correspondence between FO Barnett, CL Dalwood and officers of the Reconstruction Division relating to housing research, including population changes, demand for houses, research in universities, estimates of the housing shortage, and minimum standards.
1943/609
Housing Commission collaboration with Rural Reconstruction Commission, 1943–44
Notes of discussions between members of the Commonwealth Housing Commission and the Rural Reconstruction Commission and correspondence on the demarcation between the two on rural housing. The correspondents include JG Crawford, MW Phillips, LPD O'Connor and WR Bunning.
1943/837
Research for Housing Commission, 1943–45
Correspondence and minutes on research work carried out by the Department of Post War Reconstruction for the Commonwealth Housing Commission. The correspondents include AH Tange, G Rudduck, R Mendelsohn, MW Phillips and WR Bunning.
1943/1071
Housing: material prepared for Dr Coombs on his mission abroad, 1943
Memoranda and statements sent to HC Coombs and JW Burton in Washington from the United States Federal Housing Administration, National Housing Agency and Federal Home Loan Bank Administration in response to an Australian questionnaire.
1943/1153
Activities of War Workers Housing Trust and War Housing Division, 1941–46 (3 parts)
Correspondence about the wartime housing program, relations between the Commonwealth Housing Commission and the War Workers Housing Trust, post-war housing plans, housing standards, the proposed Commonwealth Housing Authority, the publication of Wartime Housing, housing targets, the functions of the War Housing Division, and progress of the government-sponsored housing program. The correspondents include EJ Holloway, LPD O'Connor, HC Coombs, G Rudduck, R Wilson and AW Welch.
1943/1158
Housing: relations with professional bodies, 1943–44
Correspondence between the Department of Post War Reconstruction and various professional and industry associations concerning research on post-war housing, housing shortages, publications and other matters.
1943/1229
Organisation of housing research, 1943–45 (3 parts)
Notes of meetings of research officers, correspondence, minutes and memoranda on work carried out by the Department of Post War Reconstruction for the Commonwealth Housing Commission, the use of outside bodies for research, housing standards, building materials and other matters. The correspondents include JG Crawford, G Rudduck, WR Bunning, J Oldham, L Ross, MW Phillips and R Mendelsohn.
1943/1247
Housing: prefabrication, 1943–46
Articles, correspondence, minutes and notes on mass production and prefabrication of houses. The correspondents include G Rudduck, R Mendelsohn, AW Welch and numerous building firms and manufacturers.
1943/1254
Housing: first Cabinet submission, 1943
Drafts of a Cabinet submission arising out of the first report of the Commonwealth Housing Commission and related correspondence. The correspondents include HC Coombs, G Rudduck, HJ Goodes and H Brodie.
1943/1436
Housing: Labour and National Service – Cabinet submission, 1943–44
A Cabinet submission (20 October 1943) by EJ Holloway on housing problems and administration and correspondence between officers of the Department of Post War Reconstruction and the Department of Labour and National Service.
1943/1455
Housing: first conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, 1943–44
Agenda paper on post-war housing, proceedings of the premiers conference (25–27 January 1944) and correspondence concerning material to be circulated to the states. The correspondents include JB Chifley, HC Coombs and LPD O'Connor.
1943/1461
IDC on Housing Problems and Administration, 1944–45 (2 parts)
Agenda papers and minutes of meetings of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Housing Problems and Administration, with minutes by G Rudduck, AA Fitzgerald, RE Banks and GG Firth.
1943/1530
Rural housing requirements, 1944–45
Agenda papers, minutes and report of the Rural Housing Committee, chaired by L Ross, notes and correspondence on rural housing, and the recommendations of the Commonwealth Housing Commission.
1944/3
Establishment of Commonwealth housing authorities, 1944
Correspondence on the establishment of a single Commonwealth Housing Authority and the administration of housing matters in the interim period. The correspondents include HC Coombs, R Wilson, GT Chippindall, G Rudduck, WR Bunning, GG Firth, LPD O'Connor and MW Phillips.
1944/24
Housing conference with home building organisations, 1944–45
Correspondence concerning a proposed conference with building organisations on post-war building plans, the non-assisted housing program and finance for state housing. The correspondents include HC Coombs, AM Allen, R Mendelsohn and GT Chippindall.
1944/32
Priorities in allocation of houses, 1944–47
Correspondence on housing and preference for servicemen, the allocation of government wartime houses and priorities for houses in the immediate relief program. The correspondents include G Rudduck, R Mendelsohn, H Richardson and R Wilson.
1944/50
Housing Commission: 2nd interim report, 1944
The second interim report (April 1944) of the Commonwealth Housing Commission, comments by G Rudduck, and a letter (19 August 1944) from HC Coombs to LPD O'Connor on action taken or proposed by the Commonwealth on recommendations of the commission.
1944/192
Housing: coordination of State housing programs, 1944
Correspondence concerning housing proposals of the states and their relationship to the public works program. The correspondents include Sir Harry Brown, HC Coombs and WR Bunning.
1944/221
Commonwealth–State housing plans: provision of finance, 1944–45
Correspondence concerning the provision of capital funds for the post-war housing program. The correspondents include Sir Harry Brown, HC Coombs, PA Dorrian and AC Joyce.
1944/363
Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement, 1944–45
Drafts of the Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement, proceedings of a conference (5–7 June 1945) of Commonwealth and state officers to discuss the agreement, and related correspondence. The correspondents include HC Coombs, AS Brown, G Rudduck, M White and R Cosgrove.
1945/320
Action arising out of final report of Housing Commission, 1944–45
Papers by MW Phillips and R Mendelsohn on standards for post-war housing, home purchase under the government-sponsored housing program and the preliminary wartime housing survey.
1945/337
Slum areas abolition and rebuilding, 1945–48
Includes a paper (22 June 1948) by R Mendelsohn on slum clearance in Australia.
1945/386
Preliminary wartime housing survey, 1944–45
Reports and correspondence on a preliminary wartime housing survey and the Australian housing shortage. The correspondents include HC Coombs, R Mendelsohn and JF Nimmo.
1945/608
Government sponsored housing program: housing program, 1946–47 (2 parts)
An address (8 December 1947) by AW Welch on aspects of housing and copies of monthly progress reports issued by the Directorate of Housing.
1946/210
CORRESPONDENCE FILES RELATING TO THE WORK OF HOUSING BODIES, 1943–45

Correspondence, minutes, reports and research papers concerning research by officers of the Department of Post War Reconstruction and the work of various housing bodies, such as the Commonwealth Housing Commission, the War Workers Housing Trust and the Experimental Building Station.

Series: A11677
Pise construction, 1943–45 S1943/117
Emergency housing program, 1943–44 S1943/131
Information for Housing Commission, 1943–45 (2 parts) S1943/156
Standards Association of Australia, 1943–44 (2 parts) S1943/191
New South Wales Housing Commission, 1944–45 S1944/11
Rural Housing Committee, 1944–45 (2 parts) S1944/23
Land acquisition, 1944–45 S1944/34
Department of the Interior
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1939–50
Series: A659
Final report of the Commonwealth Housing Commission, 1944
Final report (25 August 1944) of the Commonwealth Housing Commission (chair: LPD O'Connor).
1945/1/1761
Department of War Organisation of Industry
SECRET CORRESPONDENCE (S SERIES), 1941–45
Series: CP80/1
Housing problems and administration, 1943–44
Minutes of meetings of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Housing Problems and Administration, chaired by GT Chippindall and HC Coombs, and correspondence and memoranda concerning housing targets, the allocation of housing under the War Housing Program, the diversion of skilled labour to government housing schemes, and post-war housing plans. The correspondents include JJ Dedman, GT Chippindall, R Wilson, HC Coombs, W Funnell and EJB Foxcroft.
16/S720/1-9
Housing Problems and Administration IDC, 1943–45 (2 parts)
Minutes of meetings and a report (May 1945) of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Housing Problems and Administration and correspondence on the progress of wartime housing, housing targets, the Commonwealth War Housing Trust and decisions of the Production Executive. The correspondents include J Curtin, JJ Dedman, GT Chippindall, R Wilson, HC Coombs, EJB Foxcroft and TW Swan.
16/S720/10
Establishment of Commonwealth Housing Authority, 1944
Correspondence between HC Coombs and GT Chippindall on proposals for a Commonwealth Housing Authority to take over responsibilities from the Department of War Organisation of Industry and the Department of Post War Reconstruction.
17/S754
Post-war housing plans, 1943–44
Correspondence relating to a draft Cabinet paper on post-war housing plans and priorities for allocation of houses. The correspondents include HC Coombs and ER Walker.
17/S760
Post-war housing plans, 1944
Minutes of an inter-departmental meeting (1 May 1944) on post-war housing plans, chaired by HC Coombs, and correspondence about a Commonwealth–state conference on housing plans. The correspondents include HC Coombs and EJB Foxcroft.
18/S760/3
Post-war housing: proposed conference on unassisted housing, 1944
Papers for a Commonwealth–state conference on non-assisted housing and related correspondence.
18/S760/6
Department of Works and Housing
CORRESPONDENCE FILES WITH G (GENERAL) PREFIX, 1942–50
Series: B95
Housing: programming for future permanent requirements, 1943–46
Minutes of a meeting (12 July 1945) on the housing program (chair: HC Coombs), summaries of progress, correspondence and minutes concerning priorities for permanent housing, building controls, works projects, and the release of labour for the housing program. The correspondents include EJ Holloway, LF Loder, AW Welch, HC Coombs and W Funnell.
G3257
Prime Minister's Department
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1934–50
Series: A461
Housing: policy matters, 1943–50 (3 parts)
Cabinet submissions and correspondence of J Curtin and JB Chifley with state premiers relating to post-war housing plans, the Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement, action taken under the agreement, the construction of flats, building materials, housing and the decentralisation of industry and building standards.
A356/5/1
Commonwealth housing: allocation of housing, 1944–48
Correspondence concerning wartime housing, the allocation of building permits, and proposals to increase the percentage of housing allocated to ex-servicemen.
E356/5/1
Housing: use of temporary wartime structures for housing purposes, 1945–50
Correspondence between J Curtin, JB Chifley and state premiers on the use of military camp buildings and wartime cottages as temporary housing.
I356/5/1
Housing: IDC on Building Industry, 1944–45
Correspondence between J Curtin and state premiers about the formation of state committees on the building industry.
K356/5/1
Housing: non-assisted housing program, 1944–45
Correspondence between J Curtin and state premiers about the non-assisted housing program, the wartime housing survey, permits, and the possible relaxation of restrictions on building homes.
L356/5/1
Commonwealth housing: Experimental Station, 1944–48
Correspondence between J Curtin and state premiers on the establishment of the Commonwealth Experimental Building Station and the appointment of technical consultants, and between JB Chifley and JJ Dedman on the transfer of the station to the Department of Works and Housing.
S356/5/1
Housing: local government cooperation, 1944–45
Correspondence concerning representations from local government authorities on housing matters and responsibility of state governments for subsidised housing programs.
U356/5/1
Commonwealth housing: administrative arrangements, 1944
Correspondence about the establishment of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Housing Problems and Administration and the responsibilities in housing matters of the Department of War Organisation of Industry and the Department of Labour and National Service. The correspondents include J Curtin, EJ Holloway and JJ Dedman.
V356/5/1
Housing: training of housing officers, 1945–46
Correspondence with state premiers and the Department of Works and Housing on training of housing officers for work on housing commission and housing trust estates.
Y356/5/1
Housing: manpower policy, 1945–46
Correspondence of JB Chifley with JM Baddeley and HP Lazzarini about the workforce and building materials needed for housing.
AD356/5/1
Housing: NSW – policy, 1934–48 (2 parts)
Correspondence of J Curtin and JB Chifley with WJ McKell and JM Baddeley concerning post-war housing plans, recommendations of the Commonwealth Housing Commission, building restrictions, the Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement, permits for private home building, housing shortages and the use of military camps for temporary housing.
A356/5/2
Housing: Victoria – policy, 1943–45
Correspondence of J Curtin and JB Chifley with AA Dunstan concerning the overlapping of Commonwealth and state housing inquiries, plans of the Victorian Housing Commission, the report of the Commonwealth Housing Commission, the Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement and shortages of labour and materials.
G356/5/2
Housing: Queensland – policy, 1943–47
Correspondence of J Curtin and JB Chifley with FA Cooper and EM Hanlon about immediate housing relief, the report of the Commonwealth Housing Commission, the funding of the war housing program, Commonwealth–state housing plans and labour shortages.
K356/5/2
Housing: South Australia – policy, 1936–47
Correspondence of J Curtin and JB Chifley with T Playford concerning the building program of the South Australian Housing Trust, the report of the Commonwealth Housing Commission, housing standards, the selection of sites, rental subsidies, the Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement, and the supply of materials and equipment.
O356/5/2
Housing: Western Australia – policy, 1943–48
Correspondence of J Curtin and JB Chifley with JC Willcock and FJS Wise about the report of the Commonwealth Housing Commission, housing surveys, lack of manpower, and the Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement.
R356/5/2
Housing: Tasmania – policy, 1943–45
Correspondence of J Curtin and JB Chifley with R Cosgrove concerning the report of the Commonwealth Housing Commission, the principle of home ownership, delays in housing, shortages of materials, determination of rental rebates, and financial arrangements for house purchases.
U356/5/2
SELECTED RECORDS OF PREMIERS CONFERENCES, 1901–79
Series: A9504
Premiers Conferences, 1933–46
Includes proceedings of the premiers conferences on 25 January 1944, 25–26 August 1944, 20–23 August 1945 and 20–21 August 1946 which discussed post-war housing and the Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement.
4
Treasury
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1901–76
Series: A571
Post-war housing, 1942–43
Correspondence about proposals made by organisations and individuals concerning post-war housing and home-building schemes.
1942/5198
Non-assisted post-war housing, 1944–45
Correspondence and memoranda on Commonwealth assistance for home purchase, the non-assisted housing program and proposals for mortgage guarantees. The correspondents include HC Coombs, G Rudduck and HJ Goodes.
1944/2846
Housing agreements: advances to the states, 1946–47
Correspondence and minutes on advances paid to the states under the Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement and returns on expenditure and construction by state housing commissions. The correspondents include J Brophy, HJ Goodes, WC Balmford, AW Welch and LPD O'Connor.
1946/692 Pt 1
Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement: interest rate, 1945–53
Notes of an inter-departmental meeting (18 July 1945) on rates of interest for loans for rural rehabilitation and housing, correspondence and minutes on interest charged to the states under the Commonwealth–State Housing Agreement, and requests by states and organisations to reduce the interest rate. The correspondents include JB Chifley, N Lemmon and HJ Goodes.
1948/1209 Pt 1
Sir Douglas Copland
RECORDS OF THE ECONOMIC CONSULTANT (RECONSTRUCTION), 1940–45
Series: CP6/1
Reconstruction: housing, 1943–44
Includes a memorandum (18 October 1943) by W Prest on the social survey undertaken by the University of Melbourne and a letter (3 November 1943) from Copland to HC Coombs on post-war price control of building materials.
12

Further Reading

Allport, Carolyn, 'Left off the agenda: women, reconstruction and new order housing', Labour History, no. 46, 1984, pp. 1–20.

Barnett, F Oswald and Burt, WO, Housing the Australian Nation, Left Book Club of Victoria, Melbourne, 1942.

Bunning, Walter, Homes in the Sun: the past, present and future of Australian housing, WJ Nesbit, Sydney, 1945.

Bunning, Walter (ed.), The Housing Problem in Australia, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1947.

Commonwealth Housing Commission, Final report, Sydney, 1944.

Greig, Alastair, The Stuff Dreams are Made of: housing provision in Australia 19451960, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1995.

Mendelsohn, R, 'The housing problem', Australian Quarterly, vol. 17, 1945, pp. 52–8.

Troy, Patrick, Accommodating Australians: Commonwealth Government involvement in housing, Federation Press, Sydney, 2012.


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