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Wednesday, 27 May 1998
Page: 3835


Mr McMULLAN (9:42 AM) —It is coincidental that I am here, but I thank the Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government (Mr Somlyay) for his courtesy and his comments. It is true that there would be some concern if the fundamental historic nature of East Block were to be impaired by the changes. The bald statement in notice No. 2 was a bit worrying to me and to other people. Inquiries were made and some reservations were expressed.

I think the refurbishment of East Block, to the extent that I have had the chance to examine it, has been very well done and it is a very important thing, as was the previous refurbishment of West Block. Those buildings are not only full of history but, when properly refurbished, they can be modern testaments to our architectural history, as well as good, effective office space. It is very appropriate for the National Archives to be moving there.

The National Archives should have a more prominent position in terms of being accessible to Australians and to visitors and should have proper signage. In other countries, particularly in the United States, the archives is a very prominent part and a frequently visited aspect of the national capital, and many important historical documents are on public display there. It is a good thing that we are moving in that direction and that it is close to Old Parliament House where the National Archives from time to time makes good use of the space to display some of its collection.

I accept without reservation the minister's assurances and, subject to the continuing scrutiny of bodies like the Heritage Commission and the National Capital Authority, I look forward to the discreet and tasteful implementation of the assurances which the minister has given to me and to the people of Canberra.

Question resolved in the affirmative.