THE state government’s Keystart home loan scheme approved 341 loans in April, which was a four-year high for the program. In total, $73.5 million in loans were approved during the month, up from $25.2 million in the same period last year. About one third of these loans were part of the First Start shared equity scheme, which allows first homebuyers to buy a house valued up to $375,000, in conjunction with the government. Since the scheme commenced in February last year, more than 830 loans have been approved, and more than 700 loans have been referred for finance. The number of first homebuyers accessing Keystart has risen in the past year, from 63 per cent in April 2007 to 82 per cent this year. Housing and Works Minister Michelle Roberts said the latest figure was very positive compared with the loan approvals figure for April last year. “This is a great indication of homebuyer confidence returning to the market, particularly among low and moderate income earners, and first home buyers,” Mrs Roberts said. “There is also strong evidence the building industry will continue to surge, as the amount approved for construction has increased from $2.1 million in April 2007 to $16.1 million in April 2008.” Newsmaker: Dr Ron Edwards and Fiona Stanley (pictured) will represent WA on the Australian Social Inclusion Board, which has been formed to advise the federal government on how to address the lack of work, education and community engagement opportunites for low socio-economic groups. Professor Stanley is the founding director of the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, and was named Australian of the Year in 2003. Dr Edwards was a member of the House of Representatives from 1983-1993.