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Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Page: 7217


Ms O'DWYER (Higgins) (11:59): I concur with the Speaker's remarks. I also place on the record my appreciation for the member for Hinkler. What a wonderful speech you have just delivered. I suspect it is your final speech in this place, if you are not delivering another speech in the other chamber. What a delight it has been to know you in the short time that I have been here. Thank you for the wonderful contribution you have made representing your constituents, like so many people before you and so many who will come after you. Congratulations for that.

I rise today to recognise one of the most, if not the most, recognisable landmarks in Australian politics—that is the Parliament House building itself. I am from the great state of Victoria where we may well mourn the loss of the nation's parliament from Victoria, whence it first came. But on this occasion let me say with great celebration and rejoicing that it has been 25 years since the Australian parliament relocated from Old Parliament House just down the road to what is now the not-so-new Parliament House. It was officially opened by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 9 May 1988.

With its unique architecture, Australian art and iconic features, Capital Hill is a symbol of Australian democracy and governance. One needs to see only an outline of the famous spire and flag and the building is instantaneously recognisable. We should note that that stainless steel structure—the famous spire we see each day as we come and go from this beautiful building—is one of the largest stainless steel structures in the world, at 81 metres high.

However, the story of Parliament House extends far beyond its physical presence. It has become a symbol of the political and social narrative of this nation. Some of Australia's most controversial and defining moments have taken place in this building from the great battles between Treasurer Peter Costello and former Treasurer Paul Keating, then Prime Minister, to the national apology. This building has borne witness to some of the finest political moments. It has also witnessed the uglier side—the knifing of a first-term Prime Minister and corruption scandals involving members spring to mind. One thing is for sure, though: this place is never dull, it is never boring and there is very serious business that needs to be done here. That is, indeed, why we have a second chamber; the amount of work members need to do this place does require a second chamber in order that we are best able to represent the concerns and interests, big and small, of our constituents and the national interest.

I take the opportunity here today to pay tribute to all of those who were involved in the planning and design of this building. Everyone who was involved, from the original steering committee to the architect, Romaldo Giurgola, should be acknowledged and praised. It is fitting to also acknowledge that it was a very serious international competition to come up with this unique design. More than 329 entries were made before one was, fittingly, chosen, and that is what we have here today.

Finally, I recognise the immense work that the clerks, the cleaners, maintenance, IT, the support staff and the gardeners all undertake to keep this building and its grounds in the immaculate condition that we appreciate each day. The walls are pristine white, the floors are always polished and the gardens immaculately manicured. All of those who embark upon this great care for this wonderful building so richly deserve their credit and our appreciation. We wish the building a very happy quarter of a century. Who knows what the future holds for this place, but I look forward to hopefully being able to be back in this place to celebrate its 50th birthday in years to come.