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Wednesday, 4 December 1985
Page: 2923


Senator CROWLEY(4.31) —My views on this are clear, at least in terms of colour. I have circulated letters to my colleagues supporting very much the use and the proposal of use of the colours that go to the heart of the central desert of Australia. In particular I have made reference to the colours in the Fred Williams Pilbara series. I do not believe we could do any better than that. If the dye mechanisms have not produced sufficiently satisfactory colours, that is perfectly open to further experimentation until we arrive at a perfectly lovely colour or series of colours. It has been explained very clearly to those of us who took the time to have a briefing from Ric Thorp and others from the Joint Standing Committee on the New Parliament House that the acoustics of the chamber make it quite impossible to use timber panelling as has been proposed. I do not think Senator Sanders need fear for the timber because it is not possible to use it if we want a chamber of that increased size, compared with this chamber, and intimacy to allow conversations to be heard as they are with the acoustics in this chamber. We have been advised that all sorts of experts have deliberated quite considerably on that area, and I do not believe any honourable senator who happens on this by chance on the second or third last day of the session would be qualified to speak against that expertise. Our desires or preferences may be put but I do not believe we could claim expertise. I am further advised that the timber that is proposed to be used in the new Parliament House has already been cut down. It is actually to be taken from timber already felled. Senator Sanders need not fear for trees currently standing.

I strongly support the proposals for change. I think we are moving, on the occasion of the Bicentennial of Australia, to a time when it would be most appropriate to make some statements for the independence and significant difference of this Parliament House from the one we are in now. I also think we can continue sufficient traditions, particularly through the processes of what happens in that room. Therefore I think the colour of the room is largely irrelevant. One has only to visit the chambers in various countries that continue the Westminster system to see how each country has expressed that in its own different way. I think it is a monument to nonsense to lead arguments of tradition and continuity to justify those sorts of positions.

I have no qualms at all in disagreeing with Senator Tate. I find it remarkable, in a man of his perspicacity, to be so entrenched in this one small area. I ask members of the Opposition whether the red they are proposing is the red they so often find under their beds. I also must say that the honourable senators who claim not to be informed sufficiently to this point ought to be chided a little for not interesting themselves in the continuing process and review of construction of the new Parliament House. Those of us who have taken a little time to maintain an interest would understand what a fantastic and splendid building it will be and what a wonderful opportunity it is for Australia, which is now in the process of building what I think is the greatest building currently under construction anywhere in the world, to have that as a matter of great pride. I think-this is strongly in support of Senator Cook's remarks-that we are making a new into-the-future Australian Parliament House, not a memorial to times past.