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Friday, 15 June 1984
Page: 3141


Senator GRIMES (Minister for Social Security)(3.06) —by leave-I move:

That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for consideration and report: Construction of Australian Embassy complex at Beijing, People's Republic of China.

The proposal to be referred to the Committee is for the construction of a permanent embassy complex to replace the present inadequate leased accommodation . The embassy is to be constructed on a site in the San Li Tun diplomatic quarter, which is about five kilometres from the city centre.

The main elements of the proposal are: A four level chancery building; a three level head of mission residence; terrace houses for staff; recreation facilities ; and ancillary facilities including a health centre and amenities for locally engaged staff. The design solution for the complex has regard to climate and local building practice and is based on simple low buildings grouped about a series of open landscaped courtyard spaces.

Construction will be undertaken by the Chinese Government Construction Authority, with a high level of Australian professional and trade supervision. Local materials and building technology will be utilised wherever possible but where imported materials and equipment are required, those of Australian origin will be given preference. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $33.8m at April 1984. I table plans of the proposed work and commend the motion to the Senate.

In bringing forward this motion, I apologise to honourable senators, particularly Opposition senators. From the amount of work that has been done, and from the careful preparation of this work, it is clear that these proposed works have been under consideration by the Department of Housing and Construction for some months, if not some years. The Government Ministers in the Senate received this reference today. I believe this happens too often. There is no reason for a department suddenly to rush in on the last day of the sitting and present us with a proposal for the Public Works Committee, without being able to give proper notice of motion, as we should in this place. I have informed that Department and other departments that if I have anything to do with it, if they do this again they can wait until the start of the next session .

Question resolved in the affirmative.