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Thursday, 29 October 1964

Senator ORMONDE (New South Wales) . - There are two matters which I wish to discuss in relation to these estimates. The first matter refers to the public. I cannot see any reference to the public in these estimates, so I shall relate my remarks to Division No. 105 - Joint House Department. Very elaborate provisions are made in Parliament House for the entertainment and for the feeding of honorable senators and for members in another place. Also, provisions are made for important visitors. People who are lucky enough to be friends of members of Parliament and who want to listen to the debates in Parliament are able to be taken to dinner by members of the Parliament. They are the fortunate ones. Also, members of the Public Service - and there are a few sitting in the chamber tonight - are able to have a yarn and to have dinner in the area which is provided for the officials. But there is no place provided for the public.

I feel sorry for a great number of the public who come here and wander around King's Hall. They have nowhere to have a cup of tea. No provisions are made for them whatsoever. I do not think that a person can get a cup of tea within three miles of Parliament House. A person is able to get a cup of tea at Manuka, if he gets there early enough, or he can go to Civic. The people about whom I speak usually come here in Pioneer buses and they do not 'have enough money to go to the Hotel Canberra and, of course, it is only possible to eat at the Hotel Kurrajong at 9 o'clock, 1 o'clock and 6 o'clock.

Senator Marriott - Does the honorable senator want to make Parliament House into a super-mart?

Senator ORMONDE - No, I do not. Senator Toohey spoke earlier in the debate about having displays in King's Hall and inviting the public to look at them. Surely people from outside Canberra should be invited here and not people from Canberra, because Canberra people do not know where Parliament House is. I think that is a correct statement to make. People from other cities come to Parliament House, but they cannot get a cup of tea.

Senator Brown - Does the honorable senator want to turn Parliament House into a tea house?

Senator ORMONDE - No. I understand that in the House of Commons the public can have afternoon tea. We expect the public to come here and sit in the galleries. I have seen crowds of people in the galleries, but they have a long way to go if they want to have a cup of tea. The Government would have to do very little to make provision for the public to have a cup of tea here. A fence has been erected enclosing a large area in which an extension to this building is being constructed. Nobody has complained about the space that is being taken up in that way. That is necessary, of course. However, there are other areas in the passage ways of Parliament House which could be used for the purpose I recommend. I think that this matter is the responsibility of the Joint House Committee. Senator Kennelly suggests that the bar could be cut in half and facilities for the public to have a cup of tea could bc provided there. I do not agree with that suggestion. I would not be here long if I did. 1 think it should be possible within the precincts of the building for a small restaurant to bc established where people could sit in the sun and have morning or afternoon tea. I think it is a matter which the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) could consider. People have said to me: " What is the good of going to Parliament House? You go in there and you wander around but there is no place to have a cup of tea." Large deputations come to Parliament House.

Senator Marriott - They do not want to eat. They want to argue.

Senator ORMONDE - We on this side of the chamber have this experience, whereas honorable senators on the other side might not. One day members of the Seamen's Union of Australia came to Parliament House and they wanted something to eat. I suggested to the group of seamen that they have dinner with me. I took them all to dinner. There were nine of them. They all ordered big steaks. I was called away to the telephone, and when I came back I noticed that the steaks which they had partly consumed when I left had disappeared and that they had other steaks on their plates. I said: " What was wrong with the first steaks? " The leader of the group said: "We always have two steaks on the Australian National Line ". They were seamen employed by the Government's shipping line.

Senator Maher - Why do not the bus proprietors take the people to Civic or to Manuka for cups of tea?

Senator ORMONDE - I do not think that that is what should be done. Another afternoon a deputation comprising people from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne came to Parliament House. I approached the women in the deputation. They asked me where they could get a cup of tea. I said: "You let the male members of the deputation see the Prime Minister and let them carry on the revolution. I will take you to afternoon tea ". I took them to afternoon tea. There were 20 of them, but there was nowhere else for them to go. I did not please the male members of the deputation very much because they needed numbers this day and they did not get what they wanted.

There is another matter to which I wish to refer. It relates to daily newspapers. Daily newspapers are in very short supply, particularly to honorable senators. Honorable senators must have noticed that every day at about 4 o'clock in the afternoon there is a rush from this side of the chamber, particularly. It might occur on the other side of the chamber, but I only see what happens on this side because if I do not keep my eye glued on it, I am not in the rush and I do not get a newspaper. Six copies of the daily newspapers are provided for 27 Labour senators.

Senator Marriott - Take that matter up in Caucus. Do not bring it into the National Parliament.

Senator ORMONDE - I say that more papers should be provided for honorable senators.

Senator Marriott - The honorable senator wants everything free.

Senator ORMONDE - I do not want them free at all.

These are the two propositions that I put to the Minister: That we consider providing facilities for the public to have a cup of tea - and that would not be hard to do - and that we give serious consideration to increasing the supply of daily newspapers for honorable senators. If we were able to do both those things we would be doing a service.

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