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Wednesday, 25 November 1959

Mr FAIRHALL (Paterson) .- 1 do not want to join in this debate at any great length. I merely want to express sympathy with the point of view put by my honorable friend, the member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell). He was assiduous with me, in another capacity, in urging that the construction of the second and indeed the rest of the blocks of Commonwealth buildings in Spring-street, Melbourne, be continued. That is a view with which I had a good deal of sympathy and still have. In that capacity, I thought that the quickest, cheapest and certainly the best accommodation for a new Customs House in Melbourne would have been provided by going ahead with the second block in Spring-street. Now, of course, I act in another capacity and, as chairman of the Public Works Committee, I am bound to point out to the honorable gentleman that the committee took a good deal of specialist evidence on the question of the location of the Customs House. On balance, the evidence clearly indicated that the new Customs House should be constructed in something like the location now proposed for it. In other words, a difficulty of geography arose about shifting the Custom's House across town in Melbourne, because of traffic problems, distance from wharfage and particularly because it would take the Customs House away from the commercial shipping districts and therefore away from the people who had most to do with the Customs House.

The Public Works Committee will look at this whole question again, but on a review of the previous evidence, which covered questions of location and so on, it is hardly likely that that matter will be looked at again. Nevertheless, I take the opportunity to join my honorable friend in suggesting that, for other and equally good reasons, the Commonwealth consider proceeding with the building programme in Spring-street.

I assure my honorable friend from Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) that his red granite from Tasmania has been looked at carefully in times past. It is, no doubt, a satisfactory building stone. All I can do is assure him that the matter will be kept in mind by the committee.

Mr Calwell - Is the marble coming from abroad?

Mr FAIRHALL - There is no thought about it; we do not know at this stage. The committee will inquire into these matters.

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