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Thursday, 4 May 1939


Mr BERNARD CORSER (Wide Bay) . - It is, of course, unnecessary for me to say that I endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) regarding the necessity for a new post office at Brisbane. So far the Government has declined to provide money for this urgent work on the ground that all the funds available are required for defence purposes. In these circumstances, I wish to direct attention to what I regard as most unjustifiable expenditure that is proposed in connexion with the demolition of what is known as the Hoffnung building in Pitt-street, Sydney, in order to build on the site a new section of the General Post Office. The building which it is intended to demolish was purchased for £330,000.


Mr Lane - And it was a good investment.


Mr BERNARD CORSER - It might be a good investment if the Government allowed the building to remain, but it is to be demolished. The building stands on a very fine block of land, and runsback almost to the George-street alignment. I asked a question of the former Postmaster-General (Mr. Archie Cameron) on this subject, and was informed that the cost of demolishing the building and replacing it with a new one was estimated to be £800,000. It is easy to envisage, therefore, that not less than £1,000,000 may be expended on this enterprise. As Brisbane is being denied a new post office, and as, inmy opinion, the existing Hoffnung building could be adapted for post office uses with very little additional expenditure, I consider the proposed expenditure is entirely unwarranted. I am reinforced in this view by reason of the fact that the Government has, on many occasions, declined to provide additional necessary postal facilities in many small country centres.For a post office in one part of my electorate it refused to find an amount of £10 for the purchase of a safe. Seeing that so much money is required for defence purposes, the Government should not contemplate an expenditure of approximately £1,000,000 on this Sydney work. The floors of the huge Hoffnung building may not correspond exactly with the floors of the Sydney General Post Office, but, in my opinion, formed after a most careful examination of the building, they are sufficiently near to the same levels as to make the building fit for use for postal purposes in conjunction with the present General Post Office. It is appalling to think that the Government should even contemplate such a huge unnecessary expenditure on this building project at a time like this. The existing structure should not be demolished, for it is in excellent condition throughout. It is hard to understand why so many of the great floors in this building have been allowed to remain vacant for months, and why the tenants who at present occupy the valuable shop fronts in Pitt-street, at a rental of from £25 to £30 a week, should be obliged to carry on their businesses on a weekly tenancy. I am definitely of the opinion that it will be entirely wrong for the Government to demolish this building under existing circumstances. The ruthless destruction of a fine edifice is hard to justify at any time, but in this instance it would be particularly wanton.


Mr Ward - It is an out-of-date building.


Mr BERNARD CORSER - It may be out of date in certain respects, but I have formed the opinion, after a careful inspection of it, that it would be quite adequate for the postal purposes for which it is proposed to construct a new building. I have no personal feeling in the matter, except that I believe it would be iniquitous for the Government to demolish this perfectly sound structure, simply in order to satisfy the desires of some people who wish to see a new building erected in this part of Sydney. Before such action is taken, the whole matter should be inquired into, but, beyond that, any available money should be used to provide urgently needed postal facilities in many other parts of the Commonwealth.







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