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Wednesday, 21 May 1980
Page: 2984

Mr HODGMAN (Denison) - It is with very great pride, as the member for Denison, which is of course the electorate which encompasses the City of Hobart, that I welcome the motion proposed by the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Groom) today. I believe it is a very happy occasion for Hobart, and indeed for Tasmania, that the Minister is not only a Tasmanian of some distinction but also a very highly regarded member of the legal profession. Of course he will not be back in the legal profession for many years because his ministerial duties in this place will keep him here.

I am informed reliably that this report of the Standing Committee on Public Works has been presented more quickly than has any other in the history of this Parliament. It is worth reminding ourselves that it was referred to the Committee by resolution of this House on 1 5 April last and that the report has now been tabled in the Parliament, on 20 May. I commend the Committee, especially those members who were able to attend the hearings in Hobart, namely the Chairman of the Committee, the honourable member for Canning (Mr Bungey), the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James), the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Sainsbury), the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder), the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Humphreys) and Senator Harold Young, upon the speed with which it approached the determination of the matter and the manner in which it conducted its inquiry in Hobart. I would be failing in my duty if I did not place on record my very deep appreciation to the Clerk of the Committee, Mr R. B. Fenton, and his staff, for enabling the hearing to take place as quickly as they did and for enabling the report to be made available to this Parliament before it rose for the winter recess.

The speedy submission of the report has enabled the Minister to introduce the expediency motion and the passage of that motion will enable the Government to take the necessary steps to ensure that construction of the complex commences at the earliest possible date.

I do not intend to speak at length and will make only three basic points. Until this court complex is built, Hobart will be the only capital city in Australia without a Commonwealth law courts building of its own. Over the last quarter of a century, Commonwealth judicial matters have been dealt with in borrowed premises, hired premises and premises scattered around the city of Hobart. The Committee found, on the evidence, which was overwhelming on the point, that current facilities were inadequate and unsuitable.

I give one quick example. Unfortunate people who have had to attend the Family Court for the purpose of terminating their marriage have been forced to go to a commercial building, the MLC building, travel in a lift up to the court, and then wait in the passage outside the court until their case comes on for hearing. To make matters especially cruel, at this very moment a new shop is being fitted out on the ground floor of that building. The shop will sell bridal wear and wedding gowns. I make the comment that, in such a sensitive area of human relations as divorce, people have to enter a building, go up in a lift and walk past a wedding gown shop. That is just an indication of the sort of situation with which we have been faced. The Australian Royal Commission into Drugs came to Hobart last year. It had nowhere in which to sit. It had to sit in the State criminal court building. Witnesses rightly complained that it was an inappropriate place.

I could speak at length, but I will not. I commend the Government and I particularly commend the Minister. I must also commend the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) for his part in this project. This project is overdue. It is an initiative of our Government, one for which I believe the people of Tasmania will be extremely grateful. The construction period will be approximately 3Vi years. The sooner the project is started, the sooner it will be finished. The expenditure of $8.4m on this project will ensure that we have a Commonwealth law courts facility in Hobart which will meet the needs of the Tasmanian community and the Hobart community in particular until the end of this century. I commend the Government on its initiative and on its keeping faith with the people of Tasmania on this very important aspect of the administration of justice

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