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Wednesday, 24 October 1973


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Labour) - I took the trouble to study this matter in great depth when it was debated in 1968. At that time I listened with great interest to the comments of men such as the present Governor-General, Sir Paul Hasluck, who, like me, had studied the area. I went to the top of Camp Hill and I went to the top of Capital Hill. I took the bother to go to the top of Mount Ainslie and consider how the new and permanent parliament house would look from that position. I was left very strongly in favour of Capital Hill. The more I think about it and the more I drive past Capital Hill, I am more than ever convinced that God himself put Capital Hill where it is for the purpose of giving to our nation a position for its parliament house that would surpass any other position nature has bestowed upon any other country. It is a criminal tragedy for us to talk about having the new parliament house on Camp Hill. Why do we not go to the top of the area. That is where it ought to be. Parliament House is the pre-eminent building in Canberra. It is the most pre-eminent of all institutions in Australia. Capital Hill is the one place where we can build a new parliament house without destroying this one.

It leaves me cold to hear people talking about the fact that it will cost $120,000 a year to keep this Parliament House in repair. Even if that exaggerated figure were doubled, the cost of keeping this great historical record of our development as a nation ought not to be the thing to deter us from preserving it. Let us never forget that this very building in which we are now debating this proposition; this building in regard to which, if we erect the new parliament house on Camp Hill, there will be agitation for its destruction by people who talk about vistas; this building, inadequate though it may be and inadequate no doubt it is, is the building in which, in its corridors, in its chambers, in its libraries walked and talked and thought men like Bruce, Page, Scullin, Theodore, Lyons, Chifley, Casey, Menzies, Hughes, McEwen, Holt, Fadden, Curtin, Evatt, Ward, Calwell, Barwick, McMahon, Gorton, Anthony, Hasluck, Latham and Whitlam. This is a building in which future historians will give anything to be able to stand in the place where stood all these great men who will become greater the longer our history develops.

Camp Hill was selected by the former Prime Minister, Mr Gorton. It was not selected by any decision of the Parliament. The Senate strongly objected to the Camp Hill site and the lakeside site and favoured Capital Hill. It is nonsense to say that we can guarantee that Capital Hill will remain a grassy knoll, to be looked on by the people with great admiration. Of course it will not. We can make a decision today that parliament house is to be built on Camp Hill, we can carry all the resolutions we wish and pass all the Acts of Parliament we wish, but there is nothing to stop the bureaucrats of tomorrow giving effect to the original concept by Burley Griffin for the bureaucrats to be sitting on top of the hill looking down on the parliament house. Do not think it will not happen. They will only need to be as successful in imposing their view on the thinking of a future Minister with authority over the siting of Parliament House as the present advisers have been on the thinking of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), and that is precisely what some future Minister will recommend. Let us listen to the words of the present Minister for Urban and Regional Development as reported in Hansard of 15 August 1968. He complained that the National Capital Development Commission had not given the members of Parliament who favoured the Capital Hill site enough information. He criticised the NCDC, and justifiably so, too. But when he became Minister for Urban and Regional Development they got at him and did the same job on him as they had done on the person who was previously putting the proposition. Let us listen to what the present Minister for Urban and Regional Development had to say about it:

I repeat that we should restrict buildings in the Government triangle and that the new Parliament House should be on Capital Hill so that from it there will be an unimpeded view.

That is what he wanted then. He continued:

We must determine to build a national building. The decision on the siting of the new Parliament House relates to the erection of a building with character. Honourable members should support the Capital Hill site.

It is nonsense to suggest that the bureaucrats will not get on to Capital Hill. Honourable members will not stop the bureaucrats from getting there by passing Acts of Parliament or meaningless resolutions which say that the bureaucrats will never sit on that grassy knoll. The only way to stop the bureaucrats from getting control of, and having their buildings on, Capital Hill, overlooking ours, is for us to grab it now and to stick our building on it while we can.


Mr Enderby - I rise to order. Is it in order for the Minister to talk this way about my constituents?


Mr SPEAKER -Order! There is no substance in the point of order.


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Some honourable members talk about the cost of repairs to retain the present House as a magnificent old historical building. Does anybody care about the repair costs for St Paul's Cathedral? Does anybody dare say: 'Pull St Paul's down because it is costing £Stg1m in repairs?' Did the people of West Germany say: 'Let us pull down the Cologne Cathedral because it is costing £Stg8m in repairs?' Of course they did not. Why was an amount of £Stg8m spent on repairs to the Cologne Cathedral? Why was £Stg1m spent on repairs to St Paul's? The money was spent because the people had some apreciation of their history and they wanted to preserve it. We ought to have the same pride in respect of this House. What about the enormous amount of money that is spent on maintaining the Great Wall of China?

Honourable members opposite may laugh. But what about the money that the Russian revolutionists spent on the restoration of the Winter Palace and the Kremlin Palace, places in which the Czars had carried out their worst and most perfidious activities? The money was spent on those places because the people had a sense of history. Yet some honourable members in this place say: 'We will not do it because it will cost a bit of money'. It is just nonsense for one of my good friends to say that we will not get a new parliament house until 2000 A.D. Of course that is what will happen if we go on wasting time as we have been doing over the past 5 years. The phrase 'You will not get it till the year 2000' is a good sort of a phrase to use because everybody shudders and says: 'Well, I will not be here then'. My friend and colleague the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) and I do not care whether we are here to see the new parliament house or not. The important thing is that when the new parliament house is built it will be a building of which we can all be proud, situated in a place that gives it pre-eminence over all other positions. I do not care - and I am sure that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development does not care - whether we are cheated, if you like to put it in that way, out of the right of sitting in the new parliament house. What the hell does it matter, so long as we get a building of which our grandchildren can be proud? But to put up a nissan hut, which is what is proposed now for Camp Hill, just so that those of us who are now members of this Parliament can go into it, throw our weight around and have big offices in which to sit is nonsense and we ought not to have a bar of it.

I believe that the capital of Australia was made for the Parliament. The Parliament was not made for the city of Canberra. The Parliament was not made for the civil servants and the bureaucrats who are pushing us around, telling us where the new parliament house will be located. The civil service concept is to get a parliament house down amongst all the other buildings so that the bureaucrats will no longer be in a position where, even in a physical sense, they will have to regard themselves as being below the Parliament which controls the country. An example of civil service bungling is the ring road around Capital Hill. The width of State Circle should have been doubled or even trebled. The engineer who put that death trap called the 'ring road' around Capital Hill ought to be sacked. Look at the money he was getting. He was one of the fat cats of the Public Service. He talked the then Minister for the Interior into allowing the ring road to be built. No one with any brains at all will go on to the ring road at certain times of the day or night. A person would have to be a lunatic to do so. A person ought to have his head read if he does that. Australia deserves the best, the most prominent and most eminent position for its parliament in the capital city of our great country. We ought to tell the bureaucrats to go to hell, and never mind about preserving the place up there so that one day they can con some future Minister for Urban and Regional Development by saying: 'Look, Mr Minister, I have just discovered that Burley Griffin did say that there ought to be an administrative building on top of Capital Hill'.


Mr Enderby - Ten storeys high.


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Ten storeys high. The Minister would say: 'By God, thank you very much for telling me. How did anybody else miss that? Of course we must put an administrative block there. Would it not be great if we could put Parliament House there. But we cannot because that is already built.' This is the time we must grab that wonderful site if we are going to have it at all. Honourable members should not fool themselves; the civil servants and the bureaucrats will be sitting up on that hill if we do not get there first. The proper and the only thing to do is to take the speech that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development made when in Opposition 5 years ago and listen to what he says now. Honourable members then will know what bureaucrats can do to Ministers. Do not trust Ministers; never place your trust in Ministers because always they can be soft-soaped by clever bureaucrats. In the National Capital Development Commission we have the cleverest bunch of bureaucrats I have ever seen because if they can twist a man of such stamina as my Cabinet colleague, the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) into the gyrations in which he has been engaged during the last few weeks, they can do anything.







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