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Friday, 6 December 1985
Page: 3223

Senator REID(3.47) —I understand that there is some suggestion that this matter is to proceed without debate, but given that this is to be a free vote I find that a rather remarkable arrangement.

Senator Chipp —I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy President. It was only because of our personal intervention that this matter was brought on with a clear understanding last Wednesday that it would be brought on today for a vote only on condition that there would be no debate. If the Liberal Party is to break those kinds of conventions and agreements, it will never get our support on anything else again.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —There is no point of order. Agreement of that sort cannot be enforced by the Chair. I so rule on the point of order.

Senator REID —I would remind the Senate that this is a free vote. I was on the committee that chose the colours. I do not believe there has been any opportunity for that point of view to be adequately presented. I do not believe adequate consideration has been given to the implications of this decision. There was a shout a few moments ago that the vote has to be taken today. The mere fact that the vote has to be taken today gives some indication of what has occurred on this issue. We have to take into account the design of the building. It is not the Palace of Westminster, it is not a building like the building in Ottawa, both of which in common with this present building have the traditional colours and panelling. Most Australians were delighted when the design of the present building was chosen. They felt that it was innovative and relevant to the twentieth century and to Canberra as well as to the magnificent Burley Griffin design for the national capital.

Having decided on a certain type of building and a certain style of architecture, I think that must flow through to the interior design and to the general decor of the building. If one takes into account the white and black marble floor of the entrance, the green and slightly pink marble of the pillars, the whole of the forecourt, as well as the Aboriginal design in the forecourt and all other aspects of the interior of the building, one also must look at the chambers in a totally different light from merely trying to impose a replica of Westminster in a building, the outside of which is not a replica of Westminster.

I think we would find that in incorporating this design into the Parliament House aspects of lighting and acoustics have been taken into account. It was said during the debate that acoustics are not relevant in other parliaments which have carpets on their walls. That is true. However, in the interior of the new Parliament House the lighting and acoustics have been designed with the agreement of the Joint Standing Committee on the New Parliament House.

I will not take long on this matter today. I will not go into aspects of the debate in the way in which I believe ought to be done by this chamber because I realise that great pressure is being brought to bear on us. However, to proceed on a matter as important as this in such a hasty fashion and without having a statement from the architects as to the implications of what in fact was decided more than, I think, 12 months ago is extremely foolish. I wish also to ask another question. What is to happen in regard to the House of Representatives? Is that to proceed as has been determined? Are the two chambers to be so different that one chamber may be similar to the Senate's interior design while the other will be left as was determined; or are they both to be changed? Is it a question just for the Senate or is it a matter for the Parliament? What are the implications of any change of decision in regard to the time in which the building will be completed? My other question which, I agree, is perhaps secondary, is that if the design is really fundamental have we seen a financial statement on the implications arising from the cost of this decision? Do we know the delay involved in completing the building if in fact the whole of the interior of the Senate-factors such as acoustics, lighting and everything else-has to be redesigned?

I am not a raving trendy who wants to throw out anything traditional; quite the reverse. Any honourable senator who suggests that perhaps does not know me very well. However, I have been on the committee and I have been following the design. I like the building that is being developed on the hill. I believe that the new interior is in keeping with the exterior and the rest of the decor of the building. I think that looking at the Senate just on its own is not considering the whole building, both inside and out. I leave my remarks at that. I am sorry if I have offended Senator Chipp by speaking today but as a member of the committee for some time now I felt I had to do so.

Senator Chipp —I am glad you did.