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Wednesday, 4 December 1985
Page: 2920


Senator TATE(4.15) —I had not intended to speak this afternoon or in fact today but I have been encouraged by the motion moved by Senator Crichton-Browne to make known my views about the complexion and cosmetics of the chamber of the new Parliament House. As he has pointed out, it is very important that continuity be sought in not only the functions carried out in this chamber but indeed the whole atmosphere in which those functions take place. I doubt very much whether we will be able to carry the sense of this chamber as a House of review with us to the new building unless some of the physical geography of this place is also transferred in symbolic and cosmetic terms. I am looking for something which will be conducive to recreating the considerable deliberative debate that goes on in this chamber. To help create that atmosphere, let us take with us some of the attributes of this beautiful chamber which I have grown to love and admire over the seven years that the people of Tasmania have seen fit to send me to this place.

I see much merit in Senator Crichton-Browne's proposition that we retain the wood pannelled walls and the effect around the galleries in the new Parliament House. The fact is that there is a variety of timbers all around Australia which are of immense beauty and which would themselves become a symbol of the Federation. If we had timbers from the various parts of Australia, they would add to the tradition of the wood panelled walls and galleries of this chamber. I see some symbolism in taking timbers from right around Australia instead of having the very weak, insipid pink, somewhat reddish, somewhat salmonish, fabric colours that are being foisted on us at the moment. In fact, Senator Crichton-Browne has made it very clear that in his opinion the so-called attempt to capture the colours of the outback has utterly failed and the suggested colours bear no resemblance whatsoever to the striking reds of the Pilbara region. I must say that to my Tasmanian eyes none of the reds or pinks have any appeal whatsoever. In fact, if I were looking for something more agreeable to my eyes, I would look to the beautiful greens and emerald colours that we so much admire in Tasmania.

I see there is interest on all sides of the chamber in this matter. What is required is a continuity of function, aided by a continuity of the geographical attributes of this chamber. We need wood panelling and red colouring. The red colour is symbolic of those good parts-I do not say that all parts are good-of the Westminster tradition transferred to the colonies. In fact, just this week we passed a Bill in this chamber which cuts off many of the traditional legal links with the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, we are inheritors of the Westminster tradition and ministerial responsibility. I believe that, insofar as the Senate colours at the moment reflect the colours of the upper House in the Westminster Parliament, that tradition should be continued and transferred to the new site.

I am delighted that Senator Crichton-Browne brought this matter to the chamber by way of an amendment. It is about time that senators took a bit more interest in what is going on in the design of their chamber. We saw what an awful orthopaedic mess was made of the seats and chairs that we were supposed to sit on in conducting the business of this place. Unless senators take control of the colour and the panelling of the chamber, it will end up looking like the foyer of a Sheraton hotel instead of a chamber of review.