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Tuesday, 12 June 1984
Page: 2848

Senator MACKLIN(6.02) —When we were discussing the Representation Bill, the Australian Democrats opposed the increase in the number of members of parliament for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which being that this building certainly does not have the capacity to hold them. However, the Government and the Opposition are now in agreement--

Senator Withers —Not the Opposition.

Senator MACKLIN —The Opposition is not in agreement?

Senator Withers —Not to the increase in members.

Senator MACKLIN —I am talking about their being in agreement that the new members and senators should be housed. The Australian Democrats also agree with that. Seemingly, the only way that that can be done is by the construction of a prefabricated modular building in the House of Representatives gardens. I must admit that many people in Australia would much prefer that the $1.3m be spent on education and that the members of parliament be given some of the prefabricated buildings in which those people's children are educated. If that opportunity were available I think that many people in Australia would prefer that the money be spent in that way. It is inevitable that this proposal will be accepted. However, we do not as yet have before us the important consideration as to what will actually happen in this chamber and in the other chamber. I would have thought that how the members will be accommodated in these chambers would have been a matter of priority. Work will need to be done long beforehand to make sure that the chambers can operate in an effective manner.

Another consideration that I put forward is that those people who voted for the increase in the number of members of parliament should offer to share their offices with at least one other member for the next couple of years. However, that does not seem to be the majority view in this place, although it may be the majority view of the senators who are currently present. It would have been reasonable to consider when the Bill was going through the Senate that we would not be spending $1.3m to accommodate the additional members for a couple of years. That could have been left until the new Parliament House was completed. The Minister for Veterans' Affairs (Senator Gietzelt) suggested optimistically that that will be in 1988. I have the distinct feeling that it might not be until about 2001. If it does happen in 1988 the prefabricated building will have lasted and provided accommodation for a grand total of four years.

I hope that the design of that building is such that it will be able to be used again and will not be lost. If it is up to a reasonable standard it probably will be able to be used again in some manner. I hope it is not intended to shunt it off to be used for some poor kids.

Senator Withers —Stick it on the new one.

Senator MACKLIN —I hope it will not be shunted off and used for some poor kids' education when it is four years old and has been discarded by the Parliament. I hope also, as Senator Withers interjected, that it will not be shunted off and attached to the new Parliament House because the new Parliament House might be seen as being too small for the purposes for which it is being developed. That money should be expended in a way which will give us a reasonable prefabricated modular building that will have a life after it has completed its short sojourn here as an addition to the present Parliament House.

I would have thought that those people who were concerned about the previous addition might have spoken on this matter, because if anything is likely to change the facade of the present Parliament House, I would have thought a little tunnel running out from the first storey across to the buildings on the side would certainly be intriguing to the visitors who are likely to visit this Parliament House for the next few years. I would imagine that anybody viewing this building would see it as probably one of the most interesting collections of additions that have ever been put together on any building used for public purposes anywhere in Australia. This building is already an interesting collection of additions. I hope that when we finally come to look at what to do with this place, it will continue and that the majority decision will be for a full restoration of the building to its 1927 aspect.