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Tuesday, 24 February 1959

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) .- We have no objection to the personnel of the committee or to the establishment of the committee, but we would like to see it given power to do many things that its members doubtless would like to do. Every honorable member who is not a Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition or a Whip is pushed around in regard to accommodation in a way that is not befitting a national parliament. No private member has adequate room in this Parliament House. Whenever a new parliament is elected, the Speaker for the time being and the Leader of the Government - whether it is the same government or a new government - or his deputy has to try to reshuffle the available space. I suggest to you, Sir, and to the Government that the question of building a new wing across the courtyard, running north to south, should be seriously considered and the wing should be built quickly.

Mr Hamilton - Build a new Parliament House.

Mr CALWELL - It is no use talking about a new Parliament House. That will not be built for many years, and when it is built, I hope that it will be built on the hill behind the present Parliament House building and not down on the mosquito-ridden mud flats that border the Molonglo. That is my personal view.

The Government should consider, as an urgent matter, building a two-story wing or block intersecting the courtyard, from the chamber level upwards. It would preserve the amenities of the courtyard and would give much better accommodation than at present provided, for both Ministers and members. The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) has interjected, I understand, to the effect that Ministers have too much space in this building. So they have, and it was always so in the days of the Ministry of which I was a member as well as in the days of the present Ministry. An executive building should be built quickly, and Ministers ought to go there. But the possibility of having such a building constructed also is remote, and except that my idea might be extended to cover the provision of a wing over the courtyard on the Senate side of Parliament House, I know of no means by which we can provide reasonable accommodation for members of this House, particularly those who come from the most distant States and who have to live in Canberra over the week-end.

Of course, we could dispossess the press, and I have put forward proposals on that line in the past. I think we may yet reach the stage at which one man in Melbourne and one man in Sydney will control the whole of the press of Australia, and the press barons might very well provide their own building and transfer most of their staffs to it instead of usurping the space in this building that ought to be used by members of the Parliament.

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