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Wednesday, 29 June 1938

Sir CHARLES MARR (Parkes) . - In moving -

That the House do now adjourn.

I desire to protest against the erection of the high school buildings on the university site at Canberra, the flouting of Parliament by the Department of the Interior, through accepting a tender for the erection of such buildings prior to the statutory alteration of the Griffin plan being approved or rejected by Parliament, and the lack of policy with regard to the building of Australia's national capital. I take this course with extreme regret. Recently, I have asked a number of questions in regard to the erection of a high school in 'Canberra, on what I claim to be the site designated on the Griffin plan as the site for a university. In reply to my question, 1 was informed that the erection of a high school on .'this site did not involve a departure from the Griffin plan, and that the school was not, in fact, being erected on the university site. I have a copy of the Griffin plan here, and if honorable members will examine it for themselves they will see that what is being done is undoubtedly a departure from the plan. This plan shows the lay-out of the city as designed by Mr. Griffin himself,- and the sites are clearly indicated on a second plan submitted by Mr. Griffin, and approved by an advisory committee whose report is in the bound volumes of parliamentary proceedings. If it is proposed to depart from that plan, it is the duty of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. McEwen) to submit the proposed variation to Parliament for approval. In this instance, the variation from the plan regarding the university site entails the elimination of a road, and the enlargement of a circuit. The act provides that any such alteration must be submitted to Parliament, and the Minister complied with the act to the extent of submitting the proposals, but only after they had been approved by Cabinet, and the work had been commenced. The erection of a building on a site other than that set aside for it could not be proceeded with without statutory altera tion of the Griffin plan. The statutoryalteration: is not complete until tho instrument modifying or varying the plan has remained on the table of both Houses of Parliament for fifteen sitting days. Section 4 (4) of the Seat of Government Administration Act, provides -

If either House of the Parliament passes a resolution, of which notice has been given at any time within fifteen sitting days after the instrument has been laid before it', disallowing the modification or variation made by thu instrument, the modification or variation shall cease to have effect.

Notwithstanding that statutory provision, tenders for the high school building were called in December, 1937 ; in March, 1938, a tender for £75,000 was accepted, and in the meantime, the department carried out the necessary work in connexion with kerbing and guttering the site. The instrument of modification of the Griffin plan was laid on the table of both Houses on 27th April last after the tender had been accepted and work on the new building had already begun. Unfortunately, so far as this House is concerned, the statutory period of fifteen days was allowed to pass without honorable members being aware of the position. The fifteen sitting days in the Senate will be completed today, and I am sure members of that chamber are unaware of the position. Mr. Bruce, in turning the first sod in connexion with the erection of the administrative building in Canberra some years ago said that no more temporary buildings would be erected; that, in future, only permanent buildings would be constructed, and, further, that they would be placed on the appropriate sites provided in the Griffin plan. I notice in the press this morning a statement that the Minister for the Interior (Mr McEwen) proposes to lay the foundation stone of the new high school building which "is being erected on the area set aside for the university.

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