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Wednesday, 5 May 1920


Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member is not in order in using such a word, and I ask him to withdraw it,


Mr WEST - I thought I had withdrawn, but, in any case, I do so now. Another instance of blundering is found in connexion with the purchase of a site for a post-office in Oxford-street, Sydney.


Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - Does the honorable member say that a tunnel has not been made?


Mr WEST - Yes.


Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - I understand it has.


Mr Wise - Yet the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) tells us that he knows all about the matter.


Mr WEST - There has not been a tunnel bored, but an opening has been made through Penfold's property into a narrow lane, 9 or 10 feet wide, off Pittstreet. On previous occasions I have spoken strongly, and, as I thought, convincingly enough, in regard to this work, and I was promised that nothing would be done, but that another site would be purchased. I do not think that the term " death-trap " could be applied more justly to any other building in the world. When I drew attention to the matter on a previous occasion, Mr. Agar Wynne, who was then Postmaster-General, visited the site, accompanied, I think, by Mr. Oxenham; but he merely went past it in a motor car. He then went on to the Oxford-street site, three sides of which were in lanes, with a frontage to the main street of only 18 feet. The lanes were only 15 feet wide, and the opposite properties were occupied by a butcher - the offal from whose establishment was carried past the post-office door - a restaurant keeper, and a fishmonger; and the smell of the latter establishment did not invite a second sniff. Fortunately, T was able to stop that work in Oxford -street, the ex-Postmaster-General (Mr. Webster) quite agreeing with my views when he visited it. I came to the conclusion that the same common sense that was then displayed would be shown in connexion with the site we are now discussing; but, as events have turned out, either the Public Works Committee or those who have the duty of purchasing sites, should be removed and others put in their places. This block of buildings contains, perhaps, the most inflammable stores that could be found anywhere in Australia.


Mr Austin Chapman - What is the member for the district doing? Is not this site in your own constituency?


Mr WEST - I am only human, and I did all I could. No doubt this work has been carried out with some sort of secrecy. Nobody can say that I have not some knowledge of the subject, or that I do not know what a building ought to be. No Government building should be so placed as to give daylight only from the roof, and to present difficulties in proper sanitation. If I had my way I would, set fire to this building, and make them build another elsewhere. The place has been built on a site which, was used for a garage, a one-story building, which could be lighted from the top, and I fail to see how a two-storied building there can be lighted without a considerable loss of floor space. . Then, too, as one who holds by examination the certificates and licences of the Water and Sewerage Board, the Technical College, and the City Council of Sydney, I would point out that no private person is permitted to put a convenience in a building except on an outer wall, and certain ventilating requirements must be complied with. The Government, of course, can disregard such regulations, but they ought not to be disregarded. In my opinion, it iB disgraceful that this building has been erected notwithstanding the objections that were 'urged against its erection by the citizens of Sydney.







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