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Tuesday, 24 March 1987
Page: 1221

Senator NEWMAN(4.52) —I wish to add just very briefly my voice to that of my colleague Senator Brownhill. When I go around my electorate of Tasmania I am constantly asked about the new Parliament House and the blowout in expenditure. My constituents are astounded by the cost.

Senator Crowley —Oh, ha! I can see them flocking to ask.

Senator NEWMAN —I see that Senator Crowley's constituents in South Australia are not in the least worried about it. I think perhaps some of them might like to let her know just how outraged they are in South Australia also. It is an outrageous blowout in the costs of building and the Government should be condemned for allowing it to happen. Of course, it is not the only building in the Australian Capital Territory for which the Government stands condemned for a blowout in expenditure. In that respect I refer to the criticisms by the Auditor-General of the blowout in the Australian Defence Force Academy building-also an enormous amount, which the Australian taxpayer is expected to fork out willingly to foot the bill. If it were a private client who had to foot the bill for any of these blowouts, he would go bankrupt and so would the people involved in the construction of the building. It just does not work that way when it is the Australian taxpayer who is asked continually to put his hand deeper and deeper into his pocket for such things as this.

This is not to say that I believe we should not have had this House and that it should not be the wonderful and exciting building that it is. But I say all that by way of preliminary remarks to my criticism of what is happening now with this ridiculous cutback in the landscaping in the final stage of the building. This is not like landscaping in other buildings; this is an integral part of the design. It is a wonderful design and it should not be allowed in any way to have the final stage relating to its architecture cut out. Honourable senators will find that architects and landscape architects, who are people who understand these things, are appalled that this final cutback should be allowed to happen. But they are not the only people. Even these very same constituents who are so concerned of the blow- out of costs say in the next breath: `They have to finish it; they can't leave it unfinished. It would shame us in the eyes of the world if we could not put the last bit on to this building'. So I condemn the Government for the outrageous manner in which the costs have escalated and for its attempt in this eleventh hour to ruin the ship for a hap'orth of tar.