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Friday, 7 May 1915

The PRESIDENT - Our agreement with the State Government would not permit us to do that without permission.

Senator MILLEN - I do not know, sir, whether I misjudge your character, but I venture to think that on occasions you take a bigger risk than that; At any rate, I feel that the Chamber would stand by you in any dire consequences that might follow should you venture to break one of the conditions on which we hold the building. I merely rose to support what I take to be the request from honorable senators generally, that you will see what can be done to insure that they shall 'be able to work with additional comfort in future.

The PRESIDENT - I am very pleased that Senator Bakhap has brought this matter forward, because I want the Senate to understand what the actual position is. I have suffered very much from the excessive glare in this chamber during all the time I have been here, and have made complaints on more than one occasion, and since I have occupied the chair complaints have been made to me by several honorable senators. I have the fullest sympathy with their complaints, because I do not think that there is any member of the Senate who suffers more constantly than I do and necessarily so.' .But I find myself in this position, that we are unable to do anything in the chamber without the permission of the State Government. One of the terms of our agreement is that we shall maintain the building exactly as it was handed over to us,' and before we can make any alteration we have to obtain the permission of the State Government. To show honorable- senators the difficulty there is in doing anything, I may mention that there is one matter in connexion with the appurtenances of Parliament House which I desire to have very much improved. Negotiations have been going on with the State Government for over twelve months in that connexion, but we have not reached finality, although I have been ready on behalf of Parliament to proceed with the work at once. The real trouble in regard to the lighting of these chambers, especially in the daytime, is that they are not independent houses. They are houses within houses, and we cannot get direct daylight into them. In regard to the lighting of this chamber in particular, it appears to me that the gasoliers were put up as much for ornamental as for utilitarian purposes. Even if we could admit daylight, so long as the gasoliers remained we would have a reflected light, which must necessarily be injurious to the eyes. I have had this matter under consideration for some time, and I desire to do what is the right thing in regard to the State Government, and also in regard to safeguarding the eyes and the wellbeing of honorable senators. Of course, the Government and tho people of Victoria are excessively proud, and justly so, of the highly ornate character of this chamber. These gasolicrs were erected, I believe, largely with the view to add to its ornateness, and I think it would be rather difficult to induce the State Government to allow them to bo removed. However, I am waiting for a recess sufficiently long to get the whole of the chamber cleaned down, renovated, and repainted, and at the same time to see what can bo done, with the. consent of the State Government, to alter the character of the lighting. I intend that that shall be done' as soon as wo have a recess long enough to permit it. I can assure honorable senators that if I occupy the same position then as I do now, I shall leave no endeavour untried to induce tho State Government to consent to such a system of lighting here as will be satisfactory to all concerned. I further want to assure honorable senators that in the meantime I will have inquiries made to see if, with the consent of the State authorities, before we make a final alteration, we cannot devise some means to remove or at least to lessen the injurious effects of the lighting of which they justly complain. I have every sympathy with everything which has been said, and will do my utmost to obviate the complaints.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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