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Monday, 22 August 1988
Page: 3


Senator BUTTON (Leader of the Government in the Senate) —Mr President, I seek leave to move a motion of thanks relating to the presentation of gifts to the Commonwealth Parliament and to those people associated with the planning and construction of the new Parliament House.

Leave granted.


Senator BUTTON —I move:

That the following resolutions be agreed to-

(1) That the Senate expresses its thanks and appreciation of the Parliaments, Governments and peoples of those countries, States and Territories and to those organisations which have so graciously presented gifts to Australia's new Parliament House and extends a warm welcome to those Presiding Officers and representatives who are present today.

(2) That the Senate extends its sincere thanks to the following persons and organisations associated with the planning and construction of the new Parliament House:

(a) Mitchell/Giurgola and Thorp Architects who designed it,

(b) the Parliament House Construction Authority, Concrete/Holland Joint Venture and all contractors and workers who built it,

(c) the artists, craftsmen and craftswomen who advised on and assisted in its furnishing and decoration, and

(d) the members of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House, all past and present members of the Joint Standing Committee on the New Parliament House, officers of the National Capital Development Commission, parliamentary and other staff,

for their endeavours in providing a magnificent permanent building for the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Mr President, on the historic first sitting day in this building, I should like to take the opportunity to express the appreciation of the Parliament, the Government and the people of Australia to the parliaments, governments and peoples of those countries, States and Territories and those organisations which have generously presented gifts to Australia's new Parliament House. It is particularly pleasing that representatives of many of those donors, including the presiding officers of other parliaments, are able to be with us today.

The internal spaces of the building now display the embroideries, tapestries, paintings, maps and other gifts, sent here from the four corners of the world and the four corners of Australia. They are already part of this building's own history. Outside there are sculptures, benches and trees presented by our friends to add to the environment of the new building.

It is appropriate, Mr President, that I make special mention of the gifts located within this chamber: the vice-regal chair, a gift from the Parliament of the United Kingdom; the distinguished visitors chair, from the New Zealand Parliament; your own chair, Mr President, which is a gift from the Canadian Senate; and the Hansard table, a gift from the Government, Parliament and people of Tasmania. All these gifts will remind us and future generations of parliamentarians of our international ties, our bonds with the Australian States and the responsibility that we owe to the Australian people to cherish and preserve our system of parliamentary democracy. In expressing my thanks to those who join us for this special day and to those who have presented gifts, I believe they share our pride in this great building. Their generosity indicates the respect in which Australia's system of parliamentary democracy is held.

Mr President, the care and dedication that have gone into the construction of this building give us a lasting debt of gratitude to all those men and women who have been involved. To the architects, Romaldo Giurgola and Richard Thorp, we say thank you for your vision in designing a building of which all Australians, present and future, can be justly proud. We thank also the Chairman, members and the Chief Executive of the Parliament House Construction Authority and their staff for their hard work and dedication throughout the construction phase of the building. To Concrete Holland Joint Venture, the Construction Manager, and all the other contractors and workers involved in the project who, by the labour of their minds and bodies, have made it the remarkable reality it is, we also express our gratitude.

We also recall the work which has been done by the members of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House, officers of the National Capital Development Commission, and parliamentary and other staff in the building. The new Parliament House embodies the work of over 10,000 men and women, with contributions from individuals and manufacturers from every State and Territory. It is a national showcase demonstrating the skills and energy of the Australian work force.

Mr President, the integration of Australian art and craft into the new Parliament House is a key part of the building's architectural expression. The artists, craftsmen and craftswomen have created significant works now displayed throughout the building. The `meeting place' mosaic designed by Papunya artist Michael Nelson Tjakamarra and fabricated by masons William McIntosh, Aldo Rossi and Franco Colussi stands in the centre of the ceremonial pool at the heart of the forecourt and is appropriately the first work of art visitors see when approaching this building. In the Great Hall the tapestry by 14 weavers of the Victorian Tapestry Workshop dramatically depicts an Australian coastal landscape created from paintings by Arthur Boyd. In the first floor public gallery the embroidery designed by South Australian artist Kay Lawrence and produced by more than 1,000 members of the Embroiderers Guild of Australia narrates the history of Australians' involvement with the land. The marquetry designed by South Australian Tony Bishop and interpreted by Sydney craftsman Michael Retter can be found in the formal entrance foyer and elsewhere in the building.

There are many more craftspeople and artists who have contributed to the national character of the new Parliament House. I instance Tasmanian woodworker Kevin Perkins and others who have handcrafted tables and desks for the use in principal suites. Other important works of Australian woodcraft include the King table in the Reception Hall and display cases in the foyer exhibiting constitutional documents. We could continue enumerating at length for, wherever we look, we see work worthy of praise. To all those who worked to give us this home for our Parliament I express my sincere thanks. I hope that many Australians will have the opportunity to share our gratitude-and indeed excitement-when visiting this Parliament House.