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Thursday, 3 November 1921

Senator RUSSELL (Victoria) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) . - I have beenat some trouble to read carefully the speech of Senator Thomas in support of this motion. I want to say, in the kindest possible way, that the proposition he put before the Senate is quite impracticable. All public works to cost over £25,000 have to be referred to the Public Works Committee. I trust that the work at the future Federal Capital city will not be slummed, and that a full and complete inquiry will be held by the Committee before it makes tts recommendations to the Government.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The motion simply urges that Parliament should meet there next session.

Senator RUSSELL - That is so; but I do not think it is intended that Parliament shall meet in tents or lean-to's. Although the accommodation will probably be of a temporary character, Senator Thomas, no doubt, intends that it should be reasonably comfortable. I do not think that it is possible for the Public Works Committee to complete the inquiry in the time desired. I have a very able report by the Federal Capital Advisory Committee, which says that the minimum of time required to provide a minimum of accommodation with anything like reasonable comfort will be three years. This Committee has done very good work, judging by an analysis of its report. It was asked to report on the time required for construction, and it stated - -

The period of three years assigned by the Committee for the first stage is the minimum that the resources in materials and labour would permit without unduly increasing costs.

The Committee held a long inquiry, practically without restrictions by the Government.

Senator Earle - Did the Hon. William Webster give evidence before fhat Committee ?

Senator RUSSELL - I do not think so. It was a scientific Committee, which investigated architectural and other features connected with the provision of buildings for the temporary transfer of Parliament.

Senator Wilson - Why was the Committee appointed ?

Senator RUSSELL - Generally to advise Parliament.

Senator Keating - Will the Minister read the instructions to the Committee?

Senator RUSSELL - The following is extracted from the Order in Council appointing the Committee : -

With a view to enabling the Federal Parliament to meet, and the Central Administration of the Commonwealth Government to be carried on as early as practicable at Canberra, and on the basis of the acceptance of the plan of lay-out of the Federal Capital city by Mr. W. B. Griffin, it was recommended to His Excellency the Governor-General in Council, and approved, that -

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