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Tuesday, 12 June 1984
Page: 2847

Senator GIETZELT (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)(5.53) —I move:

That in accordance with Section 5 of the Parliament Act 1974, the Senate approves the following proposals contained in the report of the Joint Standing Committee on the New Parliament House presented to the Senate on 7 June 1984, namely:

The construction of a two-storey prefabricated modular building in the House of Representatives' gardens linked to the existing building by a covered walkway at the first floor level.

The passage of the Representation Act 1983 will result in the election of an additional 12 senators and 23 members at the next elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives. These expanded numbers will need to be accommodated while the Parliament continues to sit in the provisional Parliament House. Of course, as we well know, it is hoped that the new Parliament House will be constructed by 1988. It is the intention of the Presiding Officers that all senators and members in the enlarged Parliament should have their own rooms in an area adjacent to the present building. In response to the brief, accommodation must therefore be found for 35 members and senators in separate rooms each with a single staff member and the essential facilities and services needed to enable those parliamentarians and their staff to carry out their responsibilities effectively.

Against that background, the proposal for construction of a two-storey, prefabricated modular building has been developed. It is sited in the House of Representatives garden and linked to the existing building by a covered walkway at first floor level. This new annexe will provide air-conditioned accommodation for 12 of the 17 members currently occupying offices on the Senate side of the House. The vacated rooms will then be available for allocation to the 12 additional senators. We are talking about a rearrangement which will assist the House of Representatives members to be on their side of the building and will also provide suitable alternative accommodation for the new senators due to take their place here in 1985.

Twenty-four other members of the House of Representatives will be accommodated in the annexe building, as will support staff for the private members. There will also be facilities for the attendants, together with toilets and plant rooms. A ministerial suite will be lost in providing the link to the existing building. This will be replaced by re-allocating accommodation. The balance of the ministerial suite will provide offices for two members. The estimated cost of the proposed works referred to by Senator Teague is $1.3m. If the proposal is approved in the current period of sittings completion will be achieved by February 1985. That means, of course, Mr President, as you are well aware, that, depending upon whenever the next election is held at which the additional members of parliament will be elected, we will be in a position to provide them and their staff with, at least, minimum accommodation.

When Parliament is relocated in the new Parliament House those prefabricated, demountable units will be removed and disposed of or re-used to the best advantage. I remind the Senate that it is very important that we take into account the fact that additional members of parliament will be elected whenever the election is held. It is obvious, knowing the cramped conditions under which current members operate in this place, that we should provide, in anticipation of that election, sufficient accommodation that will at least meet the sub- standard accommodation that is currently available for members of parliament.

A number of us are aware of the acute accommodation problems in this Parliament . We know of and appreciate the work that you, Mr President, and your colleague in the other place, Mr Speaker, have endeavoured to do. You have succeeded to some extent in obtaining additional space since the election of the Hawke Labor Government. We are appreciative of the fact that every step has been taken to improve the accommodation and, therefore, the effectiveness of members of this Parliament. To deny this move by the Senate would be to put a time restraint on the construction of the temporary buildings that have been suggested. I think that this is the only sensible approach that we can take at this time, knowing full well that in 1988 we will have suitable accommodation for every member and his staff. That, of course, is an event to which we look forward with a great deal of interest. But in the meantime, we must take such temporary measures as are available to us to provide members with the basic, minimum accommodation which we all recognise is necessary in the Parliament whatever our political views may be, within the totally inadequate accommodation that is currently available. I therefore commend the motion to the House.