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Thursday, 28 July 1904
Thursday, 28 July 1904

Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

ALLOWANCES TO POSTMASTERS.

Sir LANGDONBONYTHON. - I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether the Government will facilitate the submission of a test case respecting the claim of certain postmasters in South Australia to remuneration for savings bank work, for commission on sale of stamps, and exemption from rent pf premises, and waive costs in the event of the Government being successful?

Mr. BATCHELOR.- I understand that the honorable, member desires to know whether the Government will facilitate the submission' to law of the questions referred to. At present' the matter is before the Public Service Commissioner on appeal, so that the time for its consideration in the manner suggested has not yet arrived. -When that stage is reached, the Government will, of course, consider the question.

SALE OF DUTY STAMPS.

Mr. McDONALD. - 'In view of the statement made by the Postmaster-General yesterday to the effect that certain Work was being performed by Commonwealth officers for the Victorian Government free of cost; I desire to know whether he will extend the same privilege to other States Governments, and thus place them all on the same footing.?

Mr. MAHON.- The statement I made yesterday had reference to the past rather than the existing state of affairs. All I can say in reply to the honorable member's question is that the PostmasterGeneral's Department intends' to treat ali the States alike..

Mr. HENRYWILLIS. - I desire to ask the Minister whether, in the event of extra work being imposed upon Commonwealth officials, he will see that they are remunerated for the services rendered ?

Mr. MAHON.- The point to which the honorable member refers is now a matter of regulation. I am under the impression that it is provided, where a Commonwealth officer performs work for a State Government after his official hours, that he shall receive the remuneration fixed for such service._

Mr.Henry Willis. - Does he?

Mr. MAHON.-I think so. Where, however, he performs work within ordinary office hours the Commonwealth receives the benefit of any payment that may be m,ade.

ADJOURNMENT {Formal).

Ventilation of the Chamber.

Mr. LIDDELL(Hunter).- I desire to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz., " The unsatisfactory arrangements for the ventilation of this chamber. ' '

Five honorable members having risen in their places,

Question proposed.

Mr. LIDDELL.- 1 do not think that I need make any apology for rising to speak upon a subject of such vital interest to honorable numbers. Not only does it concern the health of honorable members, but it also has an important bearing upon the law-making of the Commonwealth, be- cause it is impossible for legislation to be passed in a satisfactory manner unless those engaged in the work can perform their duties amidst healthy surroundings. It must have struck all of us that as our sittings wear on, and as hour succeeds hour, honorable members become lethargic, and appear to take less interest in the debates. This may be due, to a certain extent, to the soporific effects of some of the speeches, but I think that it is owing in a greater degree to the fact that men be come lethargic and sometimes irritable when they are compelled to sit for long hours in an impure atmosphere.

Mr.Reid. - Hear, hear. That explains what occurred last- night.

Mr. LIDDELL.-The events of last night induced me to bring this matter forward at this stage. I shall endeavour to describe the ventilation arrangements of the chamber, and I think that I shall succeed in showing that they are very much behind the times.

Mr.King O'Malley. - They are scandalous.

Mr. LIDDELL.-When this building was erected, a Scotch professor of St. Andrews was consulted as to the best means of ventilating this chamber. That, occurred some fifty years ago. The professor adopted the plan which at that time was in general use, and which had been found effective. The air is pumped through an inlet in the gardens, and conveyed to us through a channel. It is forced into this chamber by means of . a mechanical fan, and reaches us through openings in the

Avails about 2 feet above .our heads. The object of this arrangement is to prevent draughts. The air is supposed to circulate throughout the chamber, and to ultimately escape through openings in the roof. During the summer months it is cooled by being made to pass over a screen upon .which water is kept playing, and in the winter months it is passed through a heated chamber. That plan, of course, is in every way satisfactory, because it insures a supply of pure air, which is warmed or cooled as necessity may demand. The circulation in the chamber, however, is not what it should be. The air, instead of being generally disseminated, simply finds its way to the ceiling and escapes there. The original system has been modified or tinkered with. Apertures were made under the seats occupied by honorable members, so that the air could find its way in and play along the surface of the floor, and gradually work its way to the top of the building. Honorable members found, however, that they suffered very severely from the draughts thus created. They found that while their heads were hot, their feet were cold, and they objected to such a state of affairs. I find that' these apertures have now been carefully closed up by gumming paper over them. As honorable members are probably aware, air is composed chiefly of nitrogen and oxygen, there being four parts of nitrogen to one of oxygen.

Mr. Reid.- And a certain proportion of eloquence.

Mr. LIDDELL.-The physical exertion entailed in producing the eloquence referred to by the right honorable gentleman results in honorable members throwing off a large quantity of carbonic acid gas, which is highly deleterious. The heated air naturally rises, but carbonic acid gas, being very heavy, sinks to the floor, and when a debate has been in progress for some time, honorable members are practically condemned to sit in a well of carbonic acid gas. The pure air escapes over our heads, and below it is the _ stratum of impure air that I have described. This, to a very large extent, accounts for the lethargy and irritability of honorable members.

Mr. Reid.- The honorable member must not mention names.

Mr. LIDDELL.-This chamber is hermetically sealed. All the doors are practically air-tight. A number of strangers, including press reporters, are accommodated in our galleries. I feel very much for the reporters who have to do their work under such conditions, and for the audience who have to listen to our eloquence in this chamber. I am aware that there are apertures in the ceilings to allow of the escape of contaminated air; but, as a matter of fact, there are only two small apertures, and as there is pumped into the chamber more air than can readily find exit through those openings, the result is that air is simply being churned around in the chamber. I have not raised the question without having a remedy to suggest, and it is a simple and inexpensive one. It must not be forgotten that the plant required for pumping air into the chamberand the attendance necessary in connexion with it costs money, and it is a great pity that while we are annually spending money in this way, we have not some return for our outlay. What I suggest is, that in addition to air being pumped into the chamber by the openings around us, it should also be pumped to a certain extent in the centre of the chamber, and, that, in the openings in the ceiling, there should be placed some form of revolving fan which will act as an extractor of the air. I am informed that this can be readily done. The objection may be raised that the noise of the fan would interfere with the debates, but I am told that, by placing the fan above the ventilators, in a casing of wood, it would be perfectly noiseless. I am also informed _ that such fans as I have described could be placed in position and ready for work at an expenditure of about £"jo. As it is highly probable that we shall not have a home and habitation of our own for many years to come, it is absolutely necessary that at an early date something should be done to improve the atmosphere of this chamber. I hope that now that I have drawn attention to the matter, our excellent Ministry will take it in hand, and will, without further delay, see that this chamber is made healthy and habitable.

Mr. BATCHELOR(Boothby- Minister of Home Affairs). - The honorable member for Hunter is not the first who has drawn attention to the defective ventilation of this chamber.

Mr. Bamford.- Or to the defective sanitary arrangements either.

Mr. BATCHELOR.-It is a. matter to which attention has been drawn frequently. I believe that the Victorian Parliament when in occupation of these premises spent' thousands of pounds in the endeavour to remedy what has been complained of, but were not successful in providing anything like efficient ventilation. I agree with the honorable member for Hunter that, after a very short period of a .sitting, the air in this chamber becomes extremely vitiated, and has a very depressing influence. At the same time the difficulties of improving it are undoubtedly great, and especially so in the case of the Federal Government, who do not own the building. We cannot make structural alterations, and I do not think we should be justified in expending a very large amount of money upon a building that is not our own.

Mr. Kelly.- The honorable member for Hunter said the expenditure necessary would be about ^70.

Mr. BATCHELOR.-If the simple proposal which the honorable and learned member' for Hunter has suggested can be shown to be effective, the cost as he has estimated it would not be any bar to its being adopted. The matter is one which properly comes within the province of the House Committee, and I suggest to the honorable member that he should put his views before the Committee in order to obtain a recommendation from that body. The Government will certainly be prepared to adopt any means within reason, and which will not involve a large outlay, to secure an improvement in the ventilation of the chamber. I cannot speak on the matter with the authority of the honorable member for Hunter, but if his proposal can be shown to be effective the Government will be prepared to take steps to carry it out, if it is found that it will not involve too great expense.

Mr. SPENCE(Darling).- The honorable member for Hunter has done right in calling attention to so important a matter. In the course of an hour each person requires to inhale 1,584 cubic inches of oxygen, and we exhale . 1,346 cubic inches of carbonic acid gas. When it is 'remembered that 1,346 cubic inches of carbonic acid gas per hour amount to about half a pound of solid carbon in twenty-four hours, honorable members will have some idea of the condition into which the atmosphere in this chamber is likely to get. I have paid some attention to the question of the ventilation of mines, and I know that it has been found that carbonic acid gas is so weighty that in some mines the Roots blowers are reversed to discharge it from a mine. I mention this to show the importance of having a very large supply of pure air wherever a group of men have to remain at work for a- considerable time. Whilst we cannot do anything so elaborate as is done by the House of Commons, there is no reason why we should not learn something from what is done there. They have for a long time paid great attention to ventilation, and so perfect is the system of ventilation provided in the House of Commons now that they can not only ventilate the whole chamber, but if there should happen to be a large group of members at a particular place they can give them an extra supply. They can go even further, and if one member should happen to be in a somewhat delicate condition of health, he can be supplied with an extra supply of pure air. In time of London fog the air is passed through wool, which, though perfectly white before the air was passed through it, becomes quite black through carrying the large amount of ' waste matter. Without the adoption of some method for purifying the air, members of the House of Commons would have to swallow this waste matter, and would therefore become in an unhealthy condition. The matter is one which might be referred to the House Committee for some inquiry, because, in spite of the somewhat pessimistic statement of the honorable member for Hunter, we are hopeful that we shall soon have a Parlia ment House of our own, and we cannot, therefore, get. to work too soon in acquiring information to enable us to secure a proper system ' of ventilation. I think it would be wise to obtain some information from the House of Commons authorities as to the methods adopted there. The information would, no doubt, be found useful later on, and it is possible that some of it might be found useful for the improvement of this building. The honorable1 member for .'Hunter has. suggested simple means of remedying the condition of things in this chamber ; but I am doubtful whether a ' ventilator such as he suggests would pump out very much more than the heated air that rises to the- ceiling. The difficulty is to get rid of the impure air, and I am certain that we require a larger supply of pure air than we get here now. There is surely sufficient genius somewhere in Melbourne to discover a way by which air may be introduced to the chamber from underneath without giving honorable members rheumatics - a result which followed the forcing of air into the chamber close to where honorable members sit. I think that the honorable member for Hunter was wise to call attention to the matter, and there is another branch bf the subject to which reference might be made. I refer to the sanitary arrangements of the building, which are really in a disgraceful condition. These matters have frequently been brought under the notice of the House Committee. The real owners of this building may some day come back to it, and it will be in their interests', as well as in the interests of those who have to attend here now, that these matters should be looked to. What* ever members of the State Parliament may- say in times of excitement, I believe they have no desire to kill us off ; and even if they did, it is possible that some persons would be found so loyal to the Commonwealth as to risk their lives in coming here to legislate 'for the good of the people, as we have been doing.

Mr. KINGO'MALLEY (Darwin). - I take the opportunity of thanking the honorable member for Hunter for having called - attention to this matter. This chamber is often half empty, not because of the speeches of honorable members, but because honorable members must go out, or they will have to die here. It would be better to hold our meetings in a tent than in this chamber. I believe the defective ventilation of this chamber was the cause of the death of two honorable members who passed away in the first session of the first Federal Parliament.

Honorable Members. - No.

Mr. KINGO'MALLEY.- At least, I think so. I claim that in this case we are our brothers' keepers, and it is our duty so to improve the ventilation of this House that we shall save the lives of members of the State Parliament when they return to it. No doubt many of them have died as the result of its defective ventilation. I regard the sobriety of the members of the House as a monumental testimony to their strength of will. I am surprised that dating our occupancy of this building they have not all become drunkards. When I learned the other day that a petition was to be presented to this House in favour of closing the Parliamentary Bar, I was absolutely amazed. In fact, I have been thinking seriously about starting to drink myself unless the defective ventilation of the chamber is speedily remedied. The curse of British communities is that they live upon past ages. Custom is* the burden which they carry upon their backs, because they are afraid of change. Because some fifty years ago a Scotch Professor came to this State with ideas that were begotten of a country that . is often snow-bound, that is no reason why his notions should be applied to a land in which there is sunshine fifteen months out of the year.

Mr. Lonsdale.- We die young.

Mr. KINGO'MALLEY.- No, we do not. In Tasmania we cannot kill the people. That is the reason why we have a " dead-house " there in the shape of the Legislative Council. I shall "support the honorable member for Hunter, and I trust that the Minister will have sufficient pluck to give practical effect to his suggestions. The honorable member is a medical man, and knows what he is talking about. I should have raised the same question long ago, but I knew Aat if I did so the Government would simply exclaim, " O'Malley is not a doctor, and does not understand the subject."

Mr. LONSDALE(New England).- I, too, think that something should be done to remedy the defective ventilation of this chamber. Frequently whilst sitting here, I have been frozen up to the knees, and have been compelled to leave the chamber in order to obtain some warmth. I have always supposed that the evil was attributable to the air with which the Houseis ventilated being pumped through cold water during the winter. I am, however, assured that that impression is an erroneous one, and that the air is pumped through cold water only during the summer. I do not profess to know what the defect is, but certainly there is something wrong with the ventilation of the chamber. If we are to remain here, the Minister should obtain the best advice possible, with a view to rendering the House fit for the deliberations of honorable members. We are already indebted to the honorable member for Hunter for some improvement in the lighting arrangements of the House. Upon numerous occasions I have found that the light provided here imposed a great strain upon my eyes. If the honorable member can succeed in inducing the Government io improve the ventilation of the chamber, he will have accomplished a great deal in the direction of insuring the comfort of honorable members.

Mr. FOWLER(Perth).- I regret that I arrived in the chamber too late to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Hunter; but I gather that he criticises the system adopted for ventilating this chamber. I wish to thank him for the action which he has taken, and I am particularly pleased that a member of the House, who is also a- medical man, has indorsed the action which I took during the last Parliament. At that time, I investigated the arrangements for ventilating this chamber very carefully. I informed honorable members of the result of my inquiries, and also offered one or two suggestions for effecting an improvement in existing conditions. My' utterances upon that occasion made me the butt of more or less ponderous humour, both inside and outside of the House. However, I felt that I had a duty to perform in that matter, because I held very strongly that those conditions were responsible for the death of at least one honorable member of the last Parliament. I refer to the late Mr. Piesse, who was a personal friend of mine, and who frequently complained that the state of his health was entirely due to the defective heating and ventilation of this chamber. After his demise, I took action in the matter, and discovered a state of things which was nothing short of ridiculous. I found that the bitterly cold currents which strike the lower extremities of honorable members - I use that term advisedly, because it is not only the feet but the legs from the knees downwards which are affected . by them, and because, when I spoke on a pre- vious occasion,- it was suggested that I had misapplied it - were due to a condition of filings which is altogether absurd. All round the ledges underneath the seats occupied by honorable members, I found a number of holes a few inches in diameter. Upon inquiring the reason for these apertures I was, informed by the engineer in charge - who, of course, is not responsible, but merely has to superintend the carrying out of the existing system - that they were intended as exits for the carbonic acid exhaled by honorable members. I pointed out that this arrangement was absurd, because, whilst it is theoretically true that carbonic acid is a little heavier than the atmosphere, it must be remembered that the carbonic acid which is exhaled from the human lungs is so lightened by the warmth that it rises rather than descends. To prove the accuracy of my contention, I asked the engineer to apply a lighted match to one of the apertures under the seats, with the result that the incoming current was so strong as to almost extinguish the flame. That current is an icy cold one, and it comes from subterranean depths of this building. Consequent upon my representations, the apertures underneath the seat which I formerly occupied were soon afterwards closed. But we are all still conscious of a cold draught rising from beneath the benches. I discovered that the system under which the chamber is heated and ventilated, whilst common enough fifty years ago, has been altogether discarded, because, in practice, it has fallen very far short of expectations. As a matter of fact, according to the best advice of modern authorities upon the. subject, the heating and ventilating of this chamber ought to be carried out under two entirely distinct systems. Instead of that being the case, however, the heated air is thrown into the House, entering at the top of the dadoes. Naturally it straightway rushes to the apertures in the ceiling, which are intended to carry off the bad air. Consequently we do not obtain the benefit of the heated air at all, or secure it only in a slight degree. What we do inhale is the poisonous atmosphere which is breathed out by honorable members, and which is continually floating below the tops of the dadoes. This matter was investigated during, the last Parliament by the House Committee. I pointed out at the time that if means were devised to throw the heated air through the apertures under the benches, we should at least secure a proportion of pure air. It would necessitate only a very slight alteration in the existing structural arrangements ; but so far nothing has been done in the direction which 1 suggested. The present system has been abandoned elsewhere, and it is time that action was taken to secure the health and comfort of honorable members - as well as the efficiency of this Parliament. I also heartily echo- the remarks which have been made in regard to the sanitary arrangements of the building. The stench which sometimes assails one's nostrils in- the corridors of the building is in itself sufficient to condemn the existing system, and in view of the. fact that up-to-date sanitary arrangements are being introduced all over the city I do not see why we should be almost the last to take advantage of the new methods. These are matters which well deserve the attention of the House Committee, and I hope that as the result of the representations which have been made, not by me, but by medical authorities, something will be done to secure ' an improvement.

Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson)-.- As a member of the House Committee, Mr. Speaker, you will perhaps be able to inform honorable members why something was not done to effect an improvement as the result of the representations that were made when the matter was previously discussed on the motion of the honorable member for Perth.

Mr. Fowler.- I make no accusation against the Committee. I recognise that their hands are to a large extent tied.

Mr. HENRYWILLIS.- Quite so; but I should like to know why action has not been taken. The honorable member for Perth made out a very strong case for improving the ventilation of the chamber, and the fact that the chamber is allowed to remain in its present insanitary condition, is the subject of much comment outside. Something should certainly be done to improve the ventilation. Some little improvement might be effected in the lighting of the building, and I think that the Committee will be merely discharging their duty, if they see that the necessary alterations are made. If they decline to take cognisance of these representations, there will be another course open to us. It will then be open to. us to replace them by members who have made a thorough investigation of the whole question, and who are anxious to see the necessary improvements made.

Mr. FULLER(Illawarra).- We are under an obligation to the honorable member for Hunter for bringing this matter forward. The Minister of Home Affairs should take this debate as an indication that the" sooner we select a site for the Federal Capital, and secure a habitation of our own, the better it will be for all of us. It is apparent, not only that the atmosphere of this chamber is impure, but that, in the opinion of some persons, the legislation of this Parliament is unsatisfactory. In the opinion of the Premier of Victoria, members of this- Parliament are polluting the political atmosphere.

Mr. Watson.- I think that was meant as a joke.

Mr. FULLER.-At all events, the sooner this matter is attended to, the better.

Mr. JOSEPHCOOK (Parramatta).I also think that some action should be taken to improve the ventilation of the chamber. A general House of ventilation, such as this is, ought certainly to have a pure atmosphere. I doubt, however, whether the proposal made by my honorable friend would meet the case. It might prove satisfactory if something were done to the floor of the chamber so as to make sure that the fans would work effectively in removing the carbonic acid gas. ' If we could secure something to purify the atmosphere, and to clarify the minds of .Federal legislators it would be a very good thing. I doubt, however, whether the little troubles that occur from time to time in this House are wholly attributable to the state of the atmosphere ; I rather think that the mysterious electricity which is generated from time to time is due to the nature of the subjects discussed. I have heard of such incidents occurring even in the best regulated chambers in the world. They have a habit of cropping up wherever men do congregate to contest thorny subjects. Anything that would add to the efficiency of the chamber would deserve the serious consideration of those who have been selected by the House to deal with these questions. The sanitary arrangements of the building are no doubt defective, but I respectfully suggest that they might be put to better use. I am not so sure that we could not make an improvement. I sometimes go into some of the fragrant places in the building, and find that others who have preceded me have not even taken the precaution to preserve themselves from the odoriferous surround,ings of which complaint is made. If we took a hand in the sanitation of this building and availed ourselves fully of the means that are at our disposal, we should be able to secure better results than are likely to spring from the mere making pf complaints.

Mr. Fowler.- Does not the honorable member think that the present system ought to be abolished in favour of a modern one ?

Mr. JOSEPHCOOK.- Certainly ; but I see no prospect of that change being effected. I think we shall act wisely if we take the fullest advantage of the means at present at our disposal.

Mr. Fowler.- I believe that plans for the introduction of the new system have already been prepared.

Mr. JOSEPHCOOK.- But we have no money to expend on the introduction of a modern system. When we dare to spend any money we always have the Premier of Victoria at our heels. We must not under any circumstances arouse that gentleman's ire. As we have recently seen it is not safe to do so. I hope that the House .Committee will take into consideration the remarks of my honorable friend who has brought this matter forward, and see if something cannot be done to improve the ventilation. In all other respects I believe that the chamber is admirable. No one seems to have a good word to say for it. There appears to be a general tendency to point out only its defects, but as one who has been in other Houses of Assembly, I do not hesitate to say that it would be in every way excellent if we could only make an improvement in the direction indicated.

Mr. KNOX(Kooyong).- There is a phase of the debate which appeals to those honorable members who share my view that the proposed expenditure upon a Federal Capital might be very fitly postponed until the Commonwealth is in a much better position -

Mr. SPEAKER.- I must ask the honorable member not to discuss that question.

Mr. KNOX.- It is refreshing to find honorable members concerning themselves about their requirements in this Chamber. It is, I hope, evidence of the fact that wise counsels are prevailing, and that honorable members are beginning to see that it is necessary to make themselves healthfully comfortable in their present situation for some years' to come.

Mr.' STORRER (Bass). - I am sorry to disagree with so many of my fellow members ; but during the last five months I have stayed as long in this chamber as has any other honorable member, and I have never enjoyed better health than in that period. I think that the chamber is a great deal healthier than are many places in the world which men have to occupy for legislative and other public business.

Mr. Mauger.- That may be; but its ventilation is very bad all the same.

Mr. STORRER.-I do not think so. 1 consider that the room is quite good enough for us as tenants. We are here for only a very short period, and, no doubt, when we construct a building of our own we shall see that it is up-to-date. The building which we now occupy was built many years ago, and no doubt the best efforts were made at the time to perfect its construction. At any rate, I do not think it is for us to make any alterations, when we are to move into new premises at an early date. I shall oppose any expenditure in that direction.

Mr. MAUGER(Melbourne Ports). - I differ from the honorable member for Bass, and I think that I spend as much time in the chamber as he does. I say unhesitatingly that I go away from the sittings of the House quite run down, and physically unfit' for work. I have been a member of the House Committee for only a little time, during which the subject has not been mentioned.

Mr. AustinChapman. - Members of the Committee ought to resign, if they cannot do their duty.

Mr. MAUGER.- No doubt they should. I shall endeavour to have the matter remedied at the next meeting of the Committee.

Mr. LIDDELL(Hunter). - Having heard the remarks of so many honorable members, I am satisfied that I did right" in ventilating this important matter. I do not agree with everything that has been said, and I was indeed astounded at' the remarks of those who wish' us to continue as we are now. It must be evident to everyone possessing a nasal organ, who, after a long sitting, enters one of the galleries, or opens a door leading into the chamber itself, that the atmosphere is abominable. So greatly is it contaminated that the gases in the air can be recognised by the sense of smell, which is a proof positive that the atmosphere is unwholesome. I do not think that my motion is a reflection on the House Committee. I believe that the members of that body do their duty ; but it is necessary to bring matters of this kind prominently under notice before any action can be taken in regard to them. I moved the adjournment of the House only after mature consideration. I have taken the advice ot experts on the question of ventilating the chamber, and I am informed by one of the leading officers in the Victorian Public Service that a mechanical device, such as I have suggested, would be cheap, and would give a remedy. I hope that, now that I have brought the matter forward, something will be done to rectify the evil complained of.

Mr. SPEAKER.- It may be interesting to the House if, as Chairman of the House Committee, I say that, last session, when the honorable member for Perth brought up the matter of ventilation, it was fully gone into by the members of the Committee. We invited the honorable member to join us in an inspection . of the arrangements beneath the chamber which have to do with the ventilation and the heating and the cooling of the building, and the suggestions which he made to us were carried! out in most respects, if not in all. The large space through "which the cold air is received into a lower chamber before it passes into this was blocked up, and other similar steps were taken in accordance with his suggestions. While I recognise, sitting here for so many hours consecutively, as I often dc, that "the ventilation of the chamber is far from perfect, I think that honorable members who were here last session will admit that it has been greatly improved by the adoption of the suggestions of the honorable member for Perth. At any rate, I have had no complaints on the subject during the last four months. Had the matter been mentioned to me or to any other member of the House Committee, it would have been considered further, and, if possible, dealt with. If honorable members have any opinion' to express concerning this chamber or its surroundings, I ask. them to mention the matter to the members of the House Committee or to myself, and we will have it dealt with as soon as possible. The facts regarding the sanitary arrangements of the building are these : To* connect the building with the deep drainage system of Melbourne would cost, some thousands of pounds. The expenditure would have to be undertaken at the cost of the VictorianGovernment, and although the plans and other preliminaries have been completed, they have not yet seen their way to place a vote upon the Estimates for the purpose. That being so, I do not think the House would desire the Federal authorities to deal with the matter.

Question resolved in the negative.







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