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Thursday, 26 February 1959

Mr FREETH (Forrest) (Minister for the Interior and Miniser for Works) . - I move -

(1)   That a joint committee be appointed to -

(a)   examine and report on all proposals for modifications or variations of the plan of lay-out of the City of Canberra and its environs published in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette on the nineteenth day of November, 1925, as previously modified or varied, which are referred to the Committee by the Minister for the Interior; and

(b)   examine and report on such other matters relating to the Australian Capital Territory as may be referred to the Committee by the Minister for the Interior.

(2)   That the committee consist of two members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Prime Minister, two Members of the House of

Representatives appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, three Senators appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and two Senators appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.

(3)   That every appointment of a member of the committee be forthwith notified in- writing- to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

(4)   That the members of the Committee shall hold office as a Joint Committee until the House of Representatives expires by dissolution or effluxion of time.

(5)   That the Committee elect as Chairman of the Committee one of the members appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

(6)   That the Chairman of the Committee may, from time to time, appoint another member of the Committee to be the Deputy Chairman of the Committee, and that the member so appointed act as Chairman of the Committee at any time when the Chairman is not present at a meeting of the Committee.

(7)   That the Committee have power to appoint sub-committees consisting of three or more of its members and to refer to such a sub-committee any matter which the committee is empowered to examine.

(8)   That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records and to sit during any recess or adjournment of the Parliament and during the sittings of either House of the Parliament.

(9)   That the Committee have power to consider the Minutes of Evidence and Records of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory appointed in the previous Session relating to any matter on which that Committee had not completed its inquiry.

(10)   That the Committee have leave to report from time to time and that any member of the Committee have power to add a protest or dissent to any report.

(11)   That five members of the Committee, including the Chairman or Deputy Chairman, constitute a quorum of the Committee, and two members of a sub-committee constitute a quorum of the sub-committee.

(12)   That in matters of procedure the Chairman or Deputy Chairman presiding at the meeting have a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of voting, have a casting vote, and that, in other matters, the Chairman or Deputy Chairman have a deliberative vote only.

(13)   That the foregoing provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.

(14)   That a Message be sent to the Senate acquainting it of this resolution and requesting that it concur and take action accordingly.

I, would say, briefly, Sir, that this committee is being re-constituted with the same authority as that vested in the committee appointed during the previous Parliament.

Mr. hR. FRASER (Australian Capital Territory) [11.22]. - Mr. Speaker, I welcome the re-appointment of this committee. I would recall to the House that, when the committee' was first established by a motion in this House in November, 1956, spokesmen on the Government side of the House expressed the view that the committee would carry out constructive work in tendering advice to the Parliament on matters over which it must have oversight in the development of the National Capital. On this side of the chamber, the hope was expressed that the committee would be given useful tasks to perform. I. should like to remind the House that, since the committee was formed over two years ago, it has been given only one task - and that was one which would hardly have been expected to be within the ambit of the committee's proposed activities. That task was an inquiry into shopping hours within the Australian Capital Territory. It had no bearing on the actual physical development of the city. I hope that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) and the Government will see that as many matters as possible are referred to this committee, because we are now in a period of very great development in the National Capital.

The National Capital Development Commission, which was established by this Government, is doing an excellent job in the development of the city, but this development involves a great many changes in what have been the expectations of development here, and may involve actual changes or variations in the plan of the city as laid down in 1925. And that is one of the matters on which this committee is required to report. It may well be, Mr. Speaker, that one of the matters into which the committee could inquire - and I suggest it to the Minister for his consideration - could be possible changes in the procedure by which variations in the Canberra plan are approved tacitly by the Parliament as at present. As the Minister will know, any proposal for a variation of the Canberra plan must lie on the table of each House of the Parliament for fifteen sitting days. In the modern scheme of working of the Parliament, this involves some four or five weeks of sitting. It could be that variations of the plan envisaged by the National Capital Development Commission, and required in the development of Canberra, should not be delayed for so long, but, at the same time, no action should be taken that would deprive the Parliament of any opportunity to supervise and overlook the development of the National Capital to its proper destiny.

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