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Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Page: 7220

Mr JENKINS (Scullin) (12:16): I am here as part of the museum piece of the 25th anniversary of new Parliament House, because I am amongst about 75 to 80 people who have been here since we shifted up the hill. Warren came up the hill with us. He went on to bigger and better things and then came back. He has been here a long time. I think for us this is really about the events of 25 years ago, when we made the move, because in a way the pioneers had to set the pace. They were two totally different working environments. We set out to try to make sure that it worked. There are things about the new Parliament House that changed the way we engage, the way in which we actually work with each other. Some of those things, I regret, are not totally positive, but this building is such a wonderful work space and has enabled the parliament to go into the 21st century. It enables parliament to have a modern outlook and to try to make sure that we can add that modernity to the base of our Westminster system so that we continue to remain relevant to those whom we represent.

There have been many occasions, and this is yet another one, to pay tribute to everybody—the craftsmen, the architects who had the vision—who was involved in putting this building in place. It is quite appropriate that people talk about this being a building for eons. We talk about the fact that it was built to last 200 years, but I suspect that it will be used long after that. I remember being in Westminster Hall in the Palace of Westminster in January 1988, when we were having our bicentenary celebrations. I looked at that space and thought: 'That's what we need. We need a space like that.' This week when we were down in the Great Hall with the magnificent tapestry from the Victorian tapestry workshop, which is based on the Arthur Boyd painting, I still get the sense that that is the space that will linger. Even if it is used as a reception hall and for things like that it is still a space that is Australian. It is a space that we can be very proud of. Being able to host presidents from China and the United States or the big gatherings during the end of the bicentenary in that hall, I think, was very important.

The main reason I wanted to intervene was that there are people who have been custodians of this place for the last 25 years and we should really congratulate those people. I remember that when we had the 20th anniversary people who had worked in building came back and were overawed at how good the building looked, and they paid great tribute to those that maintained it. Those are the people that I want to pay tribute to today, the people that ensure that this great Australian building, which is here for the Australian public in general, remains in the condition that it is. By doing that we honour the concepts that are involved in this building. All those who work in DPS in the maintenance of this building and the maintenance of the surrounds need to be congratulated.

The other thing that we do not discuss enough is that in doing that they continue to make it a functioning building for the times. They have attacked energy conservation and they have attacked the challenge of water recycling and they do it really well. I think that we do not praise the people that do that. In its ecological footprint this is a building that should be an exemplar to others. Of course, it has the fortune of being of a size where we can really do that. They harvest water from the cooling towers and things like that and use it for other uses. When I went down there and inspected it I was told this was technology that they had got off dairies. It is the same simple technology that is being used.

One thing that I have observed since I have got back into the nitty-gritty of committee work is the way in which this building allows us to use IT. Audioconferencing over telephone is passe. You can talk to people and have them on screen—and they are sitting in London or in their kitchen—over Skype and things like that. This is really enabling the parliament to be brought well and truly back to the community. I pay great homage today to all those that are involved in making this large space an operating and working environment. This is a terrific building.

In conclusion, because we have expectant associates and observers from parliamentary committees who want to listen to the responses to their committee work, I pay great respect to all those that work in the committee system in this place, from both houses. I give a plug again for my mantra that this is one parliament, two houses—or two houses, one parliament. Let us get over the hill of our rivalries between ourselves and the Senate and see that the outcomes that we have are those of the parliament. I am in a better position to do that these days because I seem to have attracted more joint committees over the last period, and I am finding them a really refreshing outlook.

I pay tribute from time to time to people that are associated with other government departments and government agencies that come across and help our committees to do their work. I hope that they leave with a great experience when they are associated with the parliament and can be ambassadors and people that can talk up our great work. I thank the Deputy Speaker for allowing me to have these short minutes to speak to this really worthwhile motion.

Debate adjourned.

Mr STEPHEN JONES: by leave—I move:

That the further proceedings on orders of the day No. 2 be conducted in the House.

Question agreed to.