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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 3893

Mr LLOYD(3.52) —I wish to comment briefly on the report of the Joint Standing Committee on the New Parliament House in relation to certain aspects of the new Parliament House project. I sincerely recommend that all members of parliament read this report because it very much concerns them. I think all honourable members would like to be in the new Parliament House when it opens in 1988. This report is very much central to the condition of that building at that time. In a carefully but, nevertheless, clearly worded statement, this report expresses the concern of the Joint Standing Committee as to certain deficiencies that the Committee sees at present. This situation has not just suddenly occurred. Because of some recent action the situation has reached a point where the Committee feels it can no longer be silent. I want to add my comment in stronger terms than those included in this statement and I know that the majority of members of the Committee feel exactly the same. The Committee is faced with an impossible situation. It has been appointed by this Parliament to look after, on behalf of the Parliament, all the aspects of the new Parliament House building to ensure that when we, as members of parliament, move to that new building it will be as was intended in the design plan, the instructions and so forth.

We have two very difficult situations. The Committee has the power only to advise the Parliament House Construction Authority but not power to require it to comply with the Committee's decisions. This has recently led to a difficult situation concerning furniture in the new Parliament House. Furniture is important to the presentation of the building but it must also be suitable for members. They will be the major occupants and users of that furniture in their work stations. As I understand it, the unanimous view not only of the Committee but also of every other advisory group was that a certain tender for furniture should be accepted. Yet the Authority refused to accept that advice from the Committee and made another decision. That creates an impossible situation for this Committee. Honourable members will see that recommendation 10 in the report states:

The Committee regards the situation with extreme concern. Unless the matter is resolved Parliament has no assurance that decisions taken by its properly established client committee will be put into effect.

The furniture decision is not the only problem-we had problems with carpet wool as well-but it is certainly the most serious. Another point that is made in the report refers to the $43m cost savings that the Committee has been required to implement on behalf of the Executive Government. It is headed `The impact of reduced expenditure on the new Parliament House'. At no stage was the Committee a party to those real decisions relating to reductions. We have been forced to make decisions, some of which have been rejected by the Executive Government and sent back to us. We accepted in good faith that we have a responsibility to comply. Nevertheless, this will mean that certain aspects-I refer in particular to landscaping and some of the other construction features of the building-will be presented in a less desirable way than they should be and will not reach the standard that we, as a committee, were entrusted to ensure.

There is sure to be some criticism of the finish and presentation of that facility in 1988. We, as the Committee, will be seen to have done less than other members of parliament and the general public would consider was our responsibility. This has occurred against our wishes, our advice and our recommendations and without consultation. I believe that that is most unfair and it is a most untenable position for this Committee to be placed in and I know that a number of members of the Committee have considered resignation because of that.

Question resolved in the affirmative.