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Friday, 28 November 1986
Page: 2969

Senator REID(10.47) —The figures I have given indicate quite clearly that the Attorney-General is wrong in suggesting that Sydney is where the action is. It is clear also that the respondents are mainly the departments in Canberra. That is clearly the case. It is absurd to say that the cost of indulging in the luxury of moving the Commission to Sydney is only $1.3m. That is undoubtedly the removal cost. No one would suggest it is likely to be done for a more reasonable figure than that. I am talking about the ongoing cost of constantly shifting information between Canberra and Sydney. There will be information in Canberra that is needed in Sydney. It is a recurrent cost which will occur for as long as the office remains in Sydney.

What other organisations is this Government planning to take away from the national capital? Which other public servants will be moved out? Has it given any thought to the implications for this city of a decrease in the population? If it continues to take public servants out, and move the national organisations away from Canberra, it will reduce the population and the impact on the private sector and everybody else will be quite severe. We are faced with the rundown in the construction of the new Parliament House over the next couple of years. It is likely that many of the people who are now working there will not be able to obtain employment in the national capital when that job is completed, even if every other project that one could think of went ahead. If as few as 400 of those families move away, the impact will be very severe. One cannot suddenly have on the market in Canberra 400 houses either for sale or rent. At the same time the Government is talking about moving the Human Rights Commission. It may involve only a few people. But I would like to know what else the Government is planning to move, because this city cannot stand this sort of up and down activity.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Jessop) —Before I call the Minister, I inform Senator Reid that she has strayed somewhat from the matter we are discussing. I do not think the location is mentioned in the matter that is before the Committee. I suggest that she should remember that if she seeks the call again.