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Wednesday, 18 February 1987
Page: 138

Senator REID —I seek the indulgence of the Senate to make a personal explanation pursuant to standing order 408.

Leave granted.

Senator REID —Senator Vigor just gave notice of a motion which implied that the Joint Standing Committee on the New Parliament House is responsible for the landscaping of the new building being deferred. As a member of that Committee I would have to say that it is the New Parliament House Construction Authority which is responsible for that decision. The matter has been before the Senate previously. The Committee made a recommendation as to the furniture for the building and the Parliament House Construction Authority rejected that.

Senator Gareth Evans —I take a point of order. I would not wish it to be thought that I was going to be too churlish about these sorts of things but, on any view, it is not a personal explanation that Senator Reid is offering. She ought to find some other more appropriate opportunity, perhaps on the adjournment, to set the record straight in the way that she apparently wants. It does not affect her personally.

Senator Reid —I wish to speak to the point of order. As an Australian Capital Territory senator, and given that this new building is in my electorate, it is very much a matter of concern to me when an honourable senator puts down a notice of motion that implies something that is not correct.

Senator Chaney —Further to that point of order, Mr President: In your less exalted position in the Senate you may have noticed that the giving of these notices of motion is usually not unrelated to political issues. In other words, this is an opportunity for people to make political points. In the circumstances where a political point is being made about the responsibilities of a committee for a decision which is causing considerable controversy in the Australian Capital Territory, I would suggest that the involvement of committee members is a matter which could go to their personal credibility and could require a personal explanation. In my view, the point of order that has been taken by the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate is not a proper one.

The PRESIDENT —There is no point of order. When Senator Reid took the personal explanation I did not see how it was a personal explanation; however, as she is a member of the Joint Standing Committee on the New Parliament House I allowed it. However, I would suggest to Senator Reid that she relate her explanation to her personal involvement on the Committee.

Senator REID —This is a matter where the Committee made a decision about furniture and the Authority overruled the Committee, did not take its advice, or whatever explanation one likes. In this instance the Committee certainly made some recommendations about the $47m that the Government has withdrawn from the project this year. This is merely a part of it, but the Authority made the final decision not to go ahead with the landscaping.