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Wednesday, 27 February 1985
Page: 325

Mr DOBIE(6.15) —I support the creation of the Joint Standing Committee on the New Parliament House. It has been a good one and it has played a very useful role. I think that the individual contributions made by members on both sides of the House on this Committee have done much to improve the quality of the building. One's mind goes to the honourable member for Chisholm (Ms Mayer), for example, who has played a major role in the creation of a child care centre in the new Parliament. Whether one agrees with it or not, it shows the influence that individual members of this House can have with regard to the content and the purpose of the building.

It should be pointed out to the House at this stage that this Committee is in fact the client of the architect. It is the representative of the Parliament in its dealings with the Parliament House Construction Authority, so ably administered and so effective in its management. I therefore believe that this Committee should be taken most seriously by this House and particularly by those who serve on it. It is not a Committee on which one serves just in order to say that one has served on a committee. There are real roles for it to play. It has had to accept the problem of the increased Parliament. I say to those parties which supported the increased Parliament, namely the Australian Labor Party and the National Party, that they got in just in time. If it had been six months later it would have cost a fortune to have had the new Parliament House changed to meet the services and provide accommodation for the increased numbers of members of parliament. It should be said now in this Parliament that this will probably be the last time such a committee will be so formed.

Mr Young —That we shall be on, anyhow.

Mr DOBIE —I do not know whether the honourable member will be the Minister. We will see what happens in time. Hopefully, by the time the next Parliament starts-we can only beg that the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) goes his full term and is not threatened by the Australian Democrats or the New Zealanders-this Committee should not exist. In the next Parliament, the new Parliament House should be fact.

The membership of the Committee is significant. There are areas the members have to look at which were not covered in the terms. For example, as I have mentioned here previously, I believe that the area of Canberra under the authority of the Construction Authority should be moved out to State Circle, if only for the reason of stopping the National Capital Development Commission in a few years time putting some hideous car park in the area which presently is under its control and not under the control of the Construction Authority. This is a real problem because with millions having been spent on aspects, on the gardens, on the approaches and on the architecture of the place, we still have the possibility, if this Parliament does not expand that area under the control of the Authority, of the National Capital Development Commission deciding to do as it will with the creation of car park facilities within the area of the new Parliament House. While I was a member of the last Committee, I decided-it was a decision of the Committee-not to raise it as a full matter in this House. I was disappointed that it was not discussed by the Committee, despite assurances given to me that it would be discussed. I mention now that I believe the area that should be under the control of the Construction Authority of this, supposedly the last parliamentary Committee to be connected with it, should be expanded to State Circle, for many reasons; not merely because of the car park situation.

I think we should be very much aware that no building, perhaps in the history of the world, has had such detailed consultation between its architects, its clients and its occupants. The degree of preparation and the degree of co-operation has been quite staggering and, certainly, remarkable.

I am pleased to say that the Fraser Government handed it over to the Hawke Government ahead of schedule and on budget. I am pleased to say that recent inquiries I have made show that the present Government has maintained that record. Despite the disastrous strike, I am led to believe it is still on time and, according to the Authority, it is still within budget.

There are points for this House to consider during this Thirty-fourth Parliament. I hope this Committee, which will be an invention of this House, will take it to heart; will realise that it has extra responsibilities which go beyond political and party political bounds. The new Parliament House is going to be one of the great buildings of the world. It is excitingly referred to in international architectural circles in very much the same way as the Sydney Opera House is discussed. I think we in this House sometimes overlook that fact. We see it as a place where we are going to work, but the fascinating thing is that in international architectural circles this building is regarded as one of major achievement, and I think we should be aware of that fact. I am delighted to say that, if one has had some influence on some things, one is the fact that the very chair in which you sit, Madam Deputy Speaker, will be taken to the new Parliament House. For a long time that was not to be the case, and I am glad I had something to do with that. I am delighted also to say that in the new Parliament House there will be a section devoted to and furnished with furniture from the 1927 period, when we came into this building. That was something I had something to do with and something which was not going to take place. I mention that, not for any sense of what I have done on the Committee, but to say that those who serve on this Committee in the Thirty-fourth Parliament have an individual role and duty to perform on this Committee to ensure not only that there is a nice place for us to go to, but also that the parliamentary process itself is maintained for the 300 years for which this building is being constructed. I strongly support the creation of the Committee, which I shall be nominating for again. As with the previous speaker, I hope I am on my own ticket for that one as well.

Mr Shipton —We have just done a deal; we are on each other's ticket.

Mr DOBIE —He said it, I did not. I hope the Committee proceeds successfully and in a challenging manner, fully appreciative of the very high professional skills which we are privileged to have bringing it all into effect.