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Wednesday, 4 December 1985
Page: 2922

Senator COOK(4.24) —I disagree with all the previous speakers. I am amazed, and I am sure that people who are listening to this debate are amazed, that the Senate is sitting a week longer than the House of Representatives with a huge legislative program before it, yet we are engaging in an indulgent debate about what colour the Senate chamber should be in several years' time when we take our places in the new Parliament House. The people of Australia are well and truly entitled to ask what the hell we are doing if we descend to that degree of indulgence. My dismay at this debate is eclipsed only by the fact that there seems to be a degree of bipartisanship across the chamber between the conservative-the traditionals-and the orthodox members of this chamber, all of them joining hands across-

Senator Crichton-Browne —As distinct from the pinkos.

Senator COOK —I will deal with you in a minute, Senator Crichton-Browne. Don't worry, you've got it coming. There is a keen desire to turn one's back on modernity, on a contemporary view of the new Parliament House, and on the attempt to make the new Parliament House relevant to Australia, and to try to re-incorporate the traditional British model which is more relevant to Britain than to this country. It is about time we designed our chamber to suit Australia and Australia's needs and tastes. That is what the proposal for the new Parliament House attempts to do.

It is surprising that the conservatives-I use that word as a general term for all those who have argued for tradition-prefer Politburo red to any of the changes that are being suggested. It says something about the authoritarian view of traditionalism and conservatism that Politburo red-the red that surrounds us in this chamber-is the preferred choice of honourable senators who have spoken previously. The plans for the new Parliament House reflect contemporary taste and design. The new Parliament House is scheduled to be opened in our bicentennial year. The idea of the new Parliament House is to reflect a coming age, not an age that is past. It ought to reflect what the traditions will be in the future and not what the traditions have been in the past. It is about time we dragged ourselves, kicking and screaming, into the late twentieth century and set cornerstone on the new Parliament House which reflects a modern view of the world, rather than harking back to the age-old orthodoxies of the past. I think it would be a grave mistake to try to replicate this chamber in the new Parliament House on the hill behind us. It is my very firm view that the traditions of this chamber, particularly on 11 November 1975, should never be immortalised.