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Thursday, 26 November 1959

Mr FAIRHALL (PATERSON, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1953, I bring up the report relating to the following work: -

The proposed construction of a Mail Exchange at Roma-street, Brisbane.

I shall keep my comments on this particular project short. The need for the project arises from the growth of Brisbane and, indeed, the growth of the Australian population generally. It is interesting to note that if in the next twenty years mail handling in Brisbane rises at the rate by which it has grown in the last ten years, the quantity handled is likely to rise from 205,000,000 items in 1958 to an estimated 510,000,000 items in 1980. The existing facilities for handling mail are divided between the parcels exchange, which is at present located at Roma-street, and the G.P.O. building itself, where there is available approximately 40,000 square feet, including 15,000 square feet in annexes located in old buildings which were purchased originally for demolition. I am sure that the time has long passed when these buildings ought to be demolished and new buildings proceeded with.

The concentration of mail handling in the G.P.O. building leads to a tremendous traffic problem in that facilities for docking and loading are completely inadequate. The Amalgamated Postal Workers Union has for some time been complaining about the facilities available, and I think the Post Office has done the best it can do to ameliorate this condition. However, short of re-building, a satisfactory job cannot be done in this regard.

In order to get some of the mail traffic out of town and provide that mail from outlying areas will not have to come into the heart of the city, a new site has been selected at Roma-street. The suitability of this site was most thoroughly examined by the committee. The committee is satisfied that it is the right place in which to locate a mail exchange, from all points of view, including proximity to the railway and to the William Jolly Bridge.

The building will consist of a basement, a ground floor and three upper floors. It will have a frontage of 99 feet on Romastreet and a depth of 173 feet through to May-street. There is room for continued expansion on one side, the other side being closely associated with the present parcels handling exchange. The building will be of steel-reinforced concrete, semi-industrial in design in keeping with the activities to be carried out there.

The usual amenities will be provided. The committee, as with other projects which have been before it, has given in this case an exhaustive, and, I am afraid, exhausting, consideration to the question of airconditioning. We have been concerned quite a bit with the cost of air-conditioning, and every effort has been made to see whether some equally satisfactory and cheaper system might be provided by the use of what are known as package airconditioning units instead of central plant. Having regard to the type of mechanical installation in the mail-handling exchange, for mail sorting and so on, and the desirability of providing the proper distribution of conditioned air, the committee, after a very thorough analysis, came to the belief that there was not a great cost margin between a central station air-conditioning plant and package plants, and therefore has decided to accept the recommendation of the Department of Works in favour of a central plant system. Nevertheless, the committee points out that every case of airconditioning must be considered on its merits, because in certain cases package units will have obvious advantages over central plant.

The estimated cost of the project is £536,000, and the estimated period of construction is eighteen months. The committee's report is to be read in conjunction with that presented earlier dealing with the Edison telephone exchange. It will be necessary to complete the Roma-street mail exchange and to remove to it all the mailhandling facilities now in the G.P.O. before the site can be cleared for the construction of the Edison exchange. There is therefore some element of urgency in the matter, and I commend the report to the House.

Ordered to be printed.

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