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Thursday, 14 September 1972
Page: 1437

Mr BRYANT (Wills) - I wish to voice brief support for the sentiments expressed by my friend, the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson). I do not know Shepparton all that well, but 1 have driven through it on numerous occasions. Part of the charm of our country towns is the buildings that were put there by our great grandparents and our grandparents. I do not care what is done to the Shepparton Post Office as part of taking it down and putting it up somewhere else; not only is the building being shifted but the charm and character of the street in which it stood is being changed. I am confident that no other country in the world would proceed in this way. It is true enough that we have only 100 years or so of this kind of history. If this generation had been operating in Britain over the last 2 or 3 centuries I have no doubt that the British would no longer have Canterbury Cathederal or Westminster Abbey. I believe there is a total Philistine approach to this question of what might be called progress. I oppose it.

I recall when I first entered this Parliament the long and homeric battles that took place about the Customs House in Melbourne. There were those who said that that valuable building must be destroyed. They said: 'We can put something else on the site'. After long battles in which the Public Works Committee played a very important part, the building has been preserved, I think, to the advantage of Melbourne- certainly to the advantage of the Federal members whose offices are there. It also sets standards different from those that prevail in this rather materialistic and vandalistic age. I am a little disappointed that the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) does not see it that way. I have been through the transcript of evidence taken by the Committee on this matter in a hurried way. I do not think he appeared before the Committee and put a point of view one way or the other. I would expect that members of this Parliament at least ought to be attempting to preserve those aspects of the past which give us charm, character and some stimulation. The longer I live the more gratitude I feel and the more respect I have for my grandparents' generation. Under great difficulties and with minimal resources at their disposal they created many of the things that give Australia its character. I will be astonished if the subsequent building that goes up - probably a glass box and a reinforced concrete structure - will preserve the existing charm of the street in Shepparton where the post office is presently situated.

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