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Friday, 24 August 1923

Mr STEWART (Wimmera) (Minister for Works and Railways) . - I move -

That it is expedient to carry out the erection of Officers' Hostel at Canberra/ - a proposed work which has been investigated and reported on by the ' Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1921.

In the scheme submitted by the Advisory Committee a superior hostel was proposed on a commanding site near the governmental area, providing for eighty persons, at an estimated cost of £39,000. The Parliamentary Works Committee has recommended that the proposal be modified, and that a hostel of a cheaper description, to cost less than £25,000, be erected. The reduction of capital outlay was proposed in order to decrease the resultant charges for board and residence, in the interests of lower-paid officials. The Advisory Committeerecog . nised the necessity for several hostels to meet the need of lower-paid, as well as higher-paid officials; but, as the cheaper hostels proposed by the Advisory Committee would cost less than £25,000, reference to the Public Works Committee was unnecessary. Before Parliament sits at Canberra it will be necessary to provide a hostel for those higher-paid officers and others who would prefer to take such accommodation. It is desired, therefore, to proceed with the erection of the hostel as proposed in the reference to the Parliamentary Committee. In addition thereto, it is intended to erect a hostel at a cost not exceeding £25,000, as proposed by the Public Works Committee, but on a less prominent and important site. In recommending the construction of a less expensive hostel, the Works Committee was of opinion that the Department was proposing to build hostels which would cater particularly for the higher paid officials, and was neglecting the lower-paid officers.

Mr Pratten - Will the cheaper hostel hold the same number of guests as the other ?

Mr STEWART - Yes; but the main hostel now being erected will provide accommodation for a considerably greater number of guests. I assure the House that the Department does not intend to neglect the lower-paid officials. We have noted the opinion expressed by the Works Committee. We consider that the more expensive hostel will have to be erected, but we can go ahead with the building of a cheaper hostel without reference to the Public Works Commit-

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