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Wednesday, 19 September 1928

Mr E RILEY (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I approach this bill from a different point of view from that of the majority of honorable members who have spoken on it. I do not propose to criticize the commission, or to say that it has not done good work. Everybody with any taste must admire the work done in the building of Parliament House. It is a credit to those responsible for it. Sir John Harrison is a practical builder, who devoted all his time to this building, and he deserves credit for the way in which the work has been carried out.

Mr.Gregory. - Mr. Rolland was responsible for the work on this building.

Mr E RILEY (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - He was acting under the instructions of Sir John Harrison. I do not wishto take away from any man the credit which belongs to him. It must be remembered that this was a rushed job. Sir John Harrison had the greatest difficulty in obtaining the men he wanted, because they were not prepared to come away from the cities and work on what was practically a bush construction job. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) complained about the cost of the building, but it is impossible to induce men to leave the cities and go into the country without paying them extra money. .

Mr Gregory - It would be possible if houses were built for them.

Mr E RILEY (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - But we wanted to get Parliament here as quickly as possible. I do not cavil at the expenditure. It was part of the cost of the change over from Melbourne to Canberra. If the building did cost a lot of money, it must be remembered that it is a permanent building, and the expenditure will not recur.

Mr Manning - It is a credit to the Commonwealth.

Mr E RILEY (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is. On the staff of the Works and Railways Department we have one of the best architects in Australia, Mr. Murdoch. Everybody who knows him admires his modesty and ability. It was he who designed this building. All the big, fundamental work has been done in Canberra now, and the time has arrived when the control of future operations should be taken over by the Works and Railways Department. Attached to that department there are architectural staffs in Melbourne and Sydney, and we have another architect's branch attached to the commission in Canberra. I believe that we are overstaffing our Public Service in that direction. By handing this work over to the Works and Railways Department we should save money, and the responsible officers would be under our eyes while Parliament was sitting. I do not wish to dwell too much on the work that has been done: Any one can be a critic. I could find fault if I liked, but the work is finished now, and cannot be undone. The question for our consideration is, what are we to do in the future? I am very pleased that the Government has not insisted upon the continuation of the commission system for another five years. It is a fair compromise to come down to twelve months. When Parliament reassembles there will be an opportunity to consider this matter fully, and to place the commission upon a proper foundation. If we placed building operations in the Territory under the control of the Works and Railways Department we should promote efficiency and save money for the taxpayers.

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