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Wednesday, 5 May 1920


Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN (EdenMonaro) . - I am not satisfied in regard to this building, which has been described by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), an exmember of the Public Works Committee, as a " death-trap." We are told by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Wise) that this is a formal matter, and he expects honorable members to accept his statement on the ground that he has conferred with an exChairman of. the Public Works. Committee. The building is to house over 100 employees, and we certainly require further information. We ought to know which officer is responsible for placing the building in this position. The safety of the employees should be our first consideration, but it is now stated that in case of panic there would be a terrible state of affairs; and we might ask what is 'the good of the Public Works Committee if this sort of thing is allowed to go on. If there is not some improvement, we shall have to appoint a Select Committee to visit the building and see whether there is any justification for the alarming statements that have been made. We know that the present Postmaster-General is not responsible, but we ought certainly to know who is the responsible officer. I am quite certain that no private individual or company would tolerate such service.


Mr Richard Foster - We ought to know which Minister is responsible.


Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN - Yes, that ought to be ascertained. Of course, this House is not a tribunal to judge as to buildings of the kind, but the Public Works Committee has done its duty by calling attention to the matter, and some one in the Department ought to be given " the boot " if he is found to be responsible for this " death-trap." This is a very busy block of buildings, and a tunnel under Vickery's buildings would scarcely be practicable, in view of the fact that land there is worth something like £1,000 a foot, and such a work would entail the risk of claims for damages. That some money has already been expended on the work does not justify us in agreeing to its continuation, if, as stated, the result will be a " death-trap."







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