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Thursday, 15 September 1983
Page: 891

Mr FREE —Is the Minister for Housing and Construction aware of the deep concern of the housing and construction industry surrounding the decision of the previous Government to sell the Experimental Building Station at North Ryde in New South Wales? If he is, will he advise the House of the Government's response to this concern?

Mr HURFORD —Part of the monetarist policies-the scorched earth policies, as I refer to them-of Labor's political opponents, the policy that everything in the public sector was bad and the need to cut Government expenditure, resulted in the downright stupid decision to sell the Experimental Building Station at North Ryde. The implication in the question asked by the honourable member for Macquarie is quite right. There has been enormous concern in the industry generally about that stupid decision. I am very pleased to advise the honourable member and the House that the decision has now been taken by this Government to end the uncertainty in the Experimental Building Station. We will not be selling it.

This decision will be welcomed not only by sensible people in this House but also by all those in the industry who know anything about the work of the Experimental Building Station. We put great store in the increased activity that is required in the construction industry. We look not only at the demand side of that industry but also at how we can improve the productivity and, therefore, the growth in the industry by concentrating on the supply side. The Experimental Building Station provides a vital and independent service both to industry and government throughout this country in that regard. About 50 per cent of its work is concerned with the development of building standards, building codes and regulations, and the provision of research and technical advice on building and construction technology.

So we are very happy indeed that it will continue to operate. I have mentioned already that it is our aspiration to improve the quality of research in this country. That means that we will be improving the quality of the output of the Experimental Building Station. Morale in that station has been allowed to drop to an enormous extent. I visited the station soon after taking office and I informed staff at the station then that I would be working on their behalf. I am very glad that I have now been able to make this announcement on behalf of the Government.