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Wednesday, 10 April 1957

Mr DAVIDSON (Dawson) (PostmasterGeneral and Minister for the Navy) . - I rise to make some comments on the matter mentioned a few minutes ago by the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) - the proposed site for the construction of a line depot for the PostmasterGeneral's Department at Bradfield Park. The honorable member discussed this problem with me during the week before last, and made representations that the depot should not be constructed on the proposed Bradfield Park for the reasons that he has* stated to the House this evening. He made out a strong case for consideration of the various factors that he has mentioned, and, because at that time I had no knowledge of the matter, I agreed to have it examined to see whether the depot could be constructed on some other suitable site in order to avoid the difficulties that the honorable member has mentioned. I set the necessary inquiries in motion, Mi. Speaker, but as yet they have not been quite completed.

The Department of the Interior has been handling the matter because, as is well known, that department is responsible for dealing with properties used by Government departments, and, quite properly, it gives effect to the Government's policy that, in cases such as this, any suitable government property that is available should be used in preference to the purchase of more land, thereby incurring expenditure that could have been avoided. On that basis, the Department of the Interior was considering using the Bradfield Park site instead of one at St. Leonards that had previously been considered by the Postmaster-General's Department. A day or two ago, the honorable member for Bradfield, on hearing of these developments, interviewed the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall), who promptly stated that he was quite prepared to examine the matter further on the basis of the representations made by the honorable member. I understand that my ministerial colleague has promised the honorable member that he will inspect the site himself within the next two or three days.

I think it will be acknowledged that the attitude of the Department of the Interior was very proper, especially when it is understood that the alternative site at St. Leonards will probably cost about £70,000 to acquire, whereas the Bradfield Park property is already available to the Commonwealth at no cost. The matter has to be looked into, but I can assure the honorable member for Bradfield that it is not a case of the Crown considering that it can do no wrong and being ready to ride rough-shod over the rights of the people concerned. Their rights and feelings are being takes into account. The representations made by the honorable member are receiving, and will continue to receive, proper consideration. I can assure him that the Minister for the Interior desires to adjust the matter in accordance with the advice and information given to him.

I should like to say, Mr. Speaker, that my colleague would be here to deal with the matter himself if he had not been engaged in a very important discussion that he could not interrupt at the time that the honorable member for Bradfield addressed the House. But, as the Minister and I both are involved in the matter, and are co-operating in an effort to do the right and proper thing by the people concerned, I am here to outline the situation generally, and to give an undertaking that the matter is being investigated and that the objections raised by the honorable member for Bradfield will receive due consideration.

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