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Tuesday, 12 June 1984
Page: 2846


Senator GIETZELT (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)(5.51) —I thank the Australian Democrats for their support for the Government's proposal and, of course, oppose the amendment moved by the Opposition. The proposal is a very rational, equitable and inexpensive approach to what every person clearly recognises is a totally inadequate accommodation situation for a great number of people in this place. The proposal is inexpensive because only $90,000 is involved in solving partially-at least for the next four years-some acute problems that exist in certain parts of the Parliament. We ask for support of the proposition because it is the Government's intention given the approval of the Senate, that this work go ahead, during the winter recess so that when we come back for the Budget session the work will be completed and we will partially have resolved some of the acute problems facing some sections of the Parliament. If, in fact, the work is delayed no work will proceed during the winter recess. I remind the Senate that if a department of labour and industry of the calibre of that which operates in New South Wales operated in the Australian Capital Territory, it would place a ban upon the completely intolerable working conditions under which members of parliament and their staff have to operate in this place.

Some reference was made to the problems of the Minister for Finance (Mr Dawkins ). I have somewhat similar problems, as, indeed, does Senator Ryan. We have two staff members operating in a very small room. Such a situation is totally unacceptable to the Government. I applaud the efforts that have been made by the presiding officers to try to improve the working conditions and increase the amount of space that is currently available to members of parliament, Ministers and their staff.

The Minister for Territories and Local Government Mr Uren, gave an undertaking to the House of Representatives during the debate about this matter a week or so ago-with the support, incidentally, of my Federal member, Mr Dobie, who departed from the Opposition's inept approach to this problem-that we are talking of temporary arrangements, which will be acceded to to meet the wishes of the Parliament, that is, we will eventually remove the temporary arrangements proposed in this legislation. I do not think there is anything more to be said. There should not be a prolonged debate on this matter. The Government hopes that the legislation will be approved with the support of the Democrats and the work commenced during the parliamentary recess.

Amendment negatived.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.