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Thursday, 28 August 1980
Page: 961


Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I support the motion for the approval of the proposal to proceed with the contruction of the new and permanent parliament house on Capital Hill, as recommended in the report of the Parliament House Construction Authority. The building in which we are now operating was probably inadequate when it was first occupied. When I arrived here 25 years ago Gough Whitlam was unable to get an office. He operated from the party room.


Mr Bryant - So did the honourable member for Wills.


Mr Les Johnson (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The honourable member for Wills, Dr Jim Cairns and I shared a small office on the Senate side as far from the House of Representatives as one could possibly be. The national Parliament has been inadequately accomodated in this temporary building for 53 years. In contrast, I think every Australian State has an appropriate and suitably imposing parliamentary edifice. Australians, in my view, are entitled to have a distinguished manifestation of nationhood symbolising the pride we have in past achievements and the high hopes we all share for the future.

I congratulate the architects, especially the Australian referred to by the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie) 38-year-old Richard Thorp. Their concept of 60,000 square metres of conceptual inspiration deservedly won the greatest acclaim and approval of, I think, the 96 1 entries. I know that these entries were thinned out subsequently. I believe that those architects, more than any of the others, took the trouble to soak up the primary inspiration of Burley Griffin himself. That was probably the factor which won the competition for them. When the announcement of the winning architectural competitor was made at the Academy of Science I sat with a distinguished Australian finalist who has been referred to, Colin Madigan. We had been discussing his prospects and then the announcement was made. He appeared totally gratified with the high quality of the winning entry. 1 think that, in itself, speaks volumes.

On 3 December 1965 - nearly 15 years ago - the Parliament resolved to appoint a joint select committee to inquire into certain aspects of a new and permanent parliament house. The then Prime Minister pointed to the need for the committee to get experts to work out, as he put it, how various aspects of parliamentary life should be placed in a parliamentary building. It was not a great debate that ensued. When the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) interjected: We know more about getting into Parliament' the then Prime Minister retorted: 'And getting out'. There was that sort of light-hearted facetiousness. Arthur Calwell supported the motion and called for a report from the committee before the end of 1 966. Of course, that proved to be wishful thinking. Several others spoke. Mr Kent Hughes, later Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes, complained that a new wing of this building had bad acoustics and said we had better watch that in any new building. Billy Wentworth said that it would take 10 years to build it, so the present accommodation should be improved. Nevertheless, the committee was established and great debate ensued over the years about the site - whether it should be on Capital Hill or Camp Hill. There were very enthusiastic proponents of both sites.

On 17 September 1974 the honourable member for Burke, Mr Keith Johnson, was successful in gaining parliamentary approval and royal assent for a private member's Bill. So he features very significantly in this great national event. On 19 October 1979 Mr Speaker delivered the Walter Burley Griffin Memorial Lecture to the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and, in my view, brilliantly traced the history and cavalcade of events that led to the architectural competition and the decision to build a new parliament house. I seek leave to incorporate that speech in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows -

ROYAL AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS ACT CHAPTER

Friday, 19 October 1979

WALTER BURLEY GRIFFIN MEMORIAL LECTURE

By the Speaker of the House of Representatives

The Rt. Hon. Sir Billy Snedden, KCMG, QC, MP

INTRODUCTION

I am very pleased to accept the invitation of the ACT Chapter of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and its President, Mr Willoughby-Thomas to present the Walter Burley Griffin Memorial Lecture this year.

The decision to build a permanent Parliament House and the architectural competition now in progress have generated considerable interest amongst architects in Australia and overseas. I suppose it has not escaped your attention.

Before considering the possible impact of the project on Parliament, the profession and the community, let us look at the history.

Historical background

The building of a National Capital is a duty imposed on Parliament by the Constitution. Selection of a site for the Capital was not an easy task and in the years following Federation many possible sites were visited, discussed and debated in Parliament and throughout the community.

In 1904 Dalgety was nominated by the Parliament as the site but disagreement over this choice immediately ensued with the Government of New South Wales.

In 1908 the Parliament repealed the 1904 decision and determined that the Seat of Government should be in the district of Yass-Canberra.

The next step to be taken was selection of the actual city site.

In December 1908 the Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon. Hugh Mahon, directed the District Surveyor to make a thorough topographical examination of the Yass-Canberra district, so as to recommend the most suitable territory for the city site.

The Minister directed the surveyor to bear in mind that "the Federal Capital should be a beautiful city, occupying a commanding position, with extensive views and embracing distinctive features which will lend themselves to the evaluation of a design worthy of the object, not only for the present but for all time."

The present site was recommended and approved in 1909 and in April 191 1 an international competition for the design of the city was launched.

The timetable was tight - entries closed in January giving competitors nine months only to submit their work.

One condition of the competition received very strong criticism. King O'Malley the Minister of the day, insisted that he be the adjudicator. The stipulation was declared to be "contrary to all precedent", but O'Malley refused to alter this condition. The Royal Institute of British Architects and the Institute of Civil Engineers and affiliated bodies throughout the British Empire boycotted the competition which considerably reduced the field of architects and town-planners available to compete.

In all 1 37 designs were received.

A technical body of three comprising an engineer, an architect and a surveyor, appointed to report on the designs, disagreed in their choices; the Chairman recommending three designs entirely different from the three chosen by the other two assessors.

In his capacity as adjudicator, and no doubt drawing on all his wisdom, foresight and experience gained as a Member of Parliament, the Minister, Mr O'Malley, adopted the recommendation of the majority and awarded first prize of £ 1 ,750 to the 36-year-old Walter Burley Griffin of Chicago.

Almost immediately the Griffin plan was criticised as being too elaborate, and extravagant.

It was referred, together with the other prize winning designs, to a board of experts which reported that it was unable to recommend any of the designs and instead put forward for approval a design of its own!

The board's plan was approved by King O'Malley, and when the formal opening ceremony took place at Canberra in March 1913 that was the plan on which the city was being constructed.

Following a change of government, Burley Griffin was invited to Australia to co-operate in the development of the city. Griffin showed little inclination to modify his plan and the new Minister, the Hon. W. H. Kelly, disbanded the board, cancelled the approval given its plan and appointed Griffin as Federal Capital Director of Design and Construction.

Even then final approval did not automatically follow for the carrying out of Griffin's plan as there were still some misgivings and doubts about possible cost.

Griffin was not a pretty designer. He was also a determined tactician who did not intend to lose any opportunities which his appointment as Federal Capital Director gave him, and he set about laying the essential outlines of his own scheme as far as he was able.

He also obtained approval for and set in motion an international competition for the design pf the permanent Parliament House.

The outbreak of World War I and a change of government further delayed approval of the Griffin plan and caused cancellation of the Parliament House design competition.

Departmental correspondence of this period provides very interesting reading and shows how radically different were the policies of Griffin and the Departmental officers. Relationships were severely strained to say the least.

Finally, in 1916, Royal Commission was appointed to investigate various aspects of the Federal Capital.

After it has presented its report, which to a large extent substantiated criticisms by Griffin of Departmental obstruction, the redoubtable Mr King O'Malley, who in 1 9 1 2 had adopted Griffin's competition design, but then in 1913 endorsed the plan submitted by the departmental board, now formally approved of the Griffin design and placed Griffin himself completely in charge of all work in connection with the National Capital.

Griffin remained in control until December 1920 when, after some further disagreements, he left Canberra with his plan well established on the ground and with the satisfaction of knowing that any later administration would find it difficult to set it aside.

Griffin's work established him as a man of vision end advanced ideas. He envisaged Canberra as a city built in the grand manner to a plan which looks centuries ahead.

Parliament House - provisional building

In June 1914, the Commonwealth Government announced that, having under construction the Federal Capital City at Canberra, it desired to secure "the services of an architect, or architects, to design, in harmony with the objects and policies of the general plan of the city, the first of its important public buildings", and invited designs in international competition from all qualified architects for the construction of Parliament House.

The premiums offered totalled £6,000 and ranged from £ 2,000 for First to £ 250 for Eighth in order of merit. (C.F. Present competition:

First Stage- 1 0 designs each received $20,000

Second Stage- five finalists to receive $80,000 each with the winner being engaged to design the Parliament House.)

In September 1914, in view of the conditions of war existing in Europe the competition was "withdrawn for the present".

In August 1916 the competition was revived but in November the same year it was indefinitely postponed.

The Federal Capital Advisory Committee, in a report to Parliament in 1921, stated with regard to Parliament House: "The Committee regards the erection of the permanent Parliament House as a work which might be deferred for many years, or until the Commonwealth desires to proceed with it."

The Advisory Committee recommended construction of temporary buildings and went on to say, "If this suggestion for temporary Parliamentary Buildings be adopted, the Committee believes that the Commonwealth Government would save the expenditure that would be required for the monumental Parliament House for many years."

How true that statement proved to be.

At the time consideration was given to two alternatives.

The first was to house Parliament in a cheaply built temporary structure, just sufficiently durable to serve its purpose while the permanent building was in course of erection.

The second was for a provisional building which could serve for 50 years or more and after that be capable of use for other purposes for another 30 or 40 years.

Of course, it was finally decided to erect a provisional building on the site below Camp Hill. The building was opened in 1927 and has been extended and modified on an almost continuous basis since 1947. On an ordinary sitting day the House is invaded by 300 Members, Senators, Ministers and their Staff, to add to the 1 690 public servants regularly there. In addition, 550 visitors per day pass through the building.

The site for the permanent building

Pressures for a decision to build the permanent Parliament House built up during the 1950s and intensified during the late 1960s. At this time Canberra itself had entered a period of growth and with establishment of the National Capital Development Commission greater consideration was given to planning and development of the central area of the city.

Everybody concerned- Parliament, Government and planners were frustrated by the absence of a firm site for the permanent Parliamentary buildings. Until that was determined too much energy was dissipated on unproductive disputes between the proponents. The opponents merely sat back and won without effort as debate raged. Decisions were changed and disagreement between the two Houses of Parliament solidified,

Sensitivity to this reality gradually permeated through the Parliament and the final solution for these disagreements- a Bill- was first suggested by Senators Withers and Button in May 1969. Senator Reg Wright introduced such a Private

Members' Bill (the Parliament Bill 1973) in November 1973; it lapsed with prorogation of the first session of the 28th Parliament. On 26 September 1974 backbencher, Mr L. K. Johnson, introduced a Private Members' Bill which after some amendment passed both Houses and received Royal Assent on 17 December 1974. The Parliament, not the Government, and not the planners, made the final decision in 1974 with all Members and Senators exercising their vote free of party discipline.

The New Parliament House

While debate about the site was taking place there was a continuing build-up of the physical pressures in Parliament, which made an early commencement of the permanent Parliament House essential.

The Presiding Officers of 1957 prepared a paper setting out a strong case that Parliament had outgrown its temporary home.

The Presiding Officers argued that there is more in the concept of Parliament House than the number of rooms. They pointed out that, 'in addition to providing the necessary accommodation for the proper and efficient functioning of the legislature, it is important that Parliament House should be regarded as a national symbol, manifesting not only to our people, but also to visitors to our national capital, Australian pride in democratic institutions'.

The basic arguments for building the permanent Parliament House set down in the Presiding Officers' paper have been reinforced as time has passed.

At present the working conditions of every person in the Parliament are inappropriate to adequately and efficiently do the job. In many cases the accommodation is positively unhealthy. It is not a case merely of doubling up in an ordinary room but trebling and quadrupling. Busy Members, and especially Shadow Ministers, sharing their small rooms with a telephoning researcher and a clacking typewriter. Last year was the first time in the history of the Parliament that every M.P. has had a room allocated to him. One room was literally the broom cupboard. That lucky member has now moved in with a colleague and let it revert to the kingdom of brooms. Two other rooms were formally half of the toilet! They are a bit noisy and they don't do much for the morale of the occupying members.

A new Parliament is needed to provide adequate space and a proper functional layout to permit all the users of Parliament to effectively and comfortably perform their duties. It will also be a national symbol which expresses the unique national qualities, aspirations and achievements of Australia.

In a lesser more local sense it will reinforce Capital Hill as the focus of Griffin's plan for the National Capital and his concept of setting the most significant national building at the Apex of the Parliamentary triangle.

We are proud of our Parliamentary democracy which ensures us all free speech, free elections and a free representative Parliament. That heritage and the trust we have in it for the future should be enshrined in a symbolic Parliamentary building.

Preparing for the New Building

Preparing the Parliament's 'Statement of requirements for the new building', has been a time consuming and exacting task for very many Senators and Members,

A Joint Committee of Senators and Members in a report presented in 1970 after years of enquiry set out a full schedule of the requirements of the building. It made recommendations on a host of questions and fitted a mass of detail into the overall concept,

Representatives of the Committee travelled overseas to gather comparative ideas and see the facilities of other national Parliaments. In almost every capital they were strongly advised to, 'make no little plans'. The consistent theme was plan far enough ahead and provide flexibility. They did.

Political events seemed to overshadow the early seventies and absorb the attention and energy of those concerned to see a Permanent Parliament House. Even so there were continuing discussions and reports, there was still a feeling that the building was a dream. To be a reality, impetus and guidance were necessary.

In 1976 with Sir Condor Laucke, President of the Senate,I became Joint Chairman of the reconstituted New and Permanent Parliament House Committee. I was convinced that the existing accommodation was not adequate for the day's needs and would hobble parliamentary democracy. We decided to do all we could to make the dream a reality. The first step was to set up a study to examine the feasibility of constructing and occupying the new building by 26 January 1988- the 200th anniversary of European settlement in Australia. The second step was to pep up the promotion of the project among Members of Parliament.

The study showed the date was feasible. That was a new imperative which finally built up the momentum necessary to overwhelm the opposition to proceeding with the project. Even then it could not have succeeded without bi-partisan political support. Neither party was prepared to risk the political odium of being branded by the other as a spendthrift etc. etc. When that was straightened out by support from all leaders and in both Opposition Caucus and Government Party room, the long struggle was over.

From its inception the Joint Committee had accepted the inevitability of success and had shaped its activity around the need for a design brief for the building.

The brief had to express the requirements of a number of groups each of whom have different functions. the Senate the House of Representatives the public the library, Hansard and catering and other facilities for Members and staff the Executive the media; and the Parliamentary departments

The building must also make suitable provisions for the two broad aspects of the Parliamentarian's work.

One is the public aspect: the sittings of Parliament, contacts with the public, press, radio and TV, delegations and ceremonial occasions.

The other is the Member's private aspect: the space and opportunity to think, read, confer and research.

An important requirement is the need to allow for growth and change - growth to take account of increases in membership of Parliament and staff increases; change to take account of alterations and adaptions in the way Parliament operates.

Finally, the building must be constructed by 1988 and within the cost constraints.

The Changing Parliament

All institutions continually change.

It is an inescapable fact that the Parliament will change, because of its changing membership and community and government pressures.

The pressures on the existing system, which reduce effectiveness of the system are: the volume of the legislative proposals. For example, in 1 972 the number of bills passed was 1 39, in 1 974- 1 66, and in 1 978-2 1 1 . This is for too heavy for proper consideration within the present system; the nature of the legislative proposals- these are becoming more complex and widerreaching because of the Commonwealth Government's involvement in a greater range of matters. The system cannot possibly consider the proposals with the depth of understanding required to be satisfied that burden imposed or rights created are reasonable; the ever-increasing constraints of Party discipline - the requirements of strong party allegiance and discipline have overwhelmed the Westminster system of Government in its true form. All parties' rules define explicitly or implicitly what is expected of a Member of Parliament who is elected under the endorsement of the party; this party discipline is reinforced by practices - with regard to total attendance, ambush, divisions, party room procedures.

This practice limits reason and proper thought from the very matters where it should be most applied. changing technology and methods of communication are using Television to take its proceedings to the people. We have, so far been unwilling to do so. If our system cannot cope with the present how can it possibly cope with the inventions of the future? We should make modern technological advance the servant of Parliamentary Government. If Parliament has something to be afraid of in being seen then we need to enquire whether there is fault in the system or in the people who serve it.

The multiplying scale of Government operations is one of the other dynamics with which the system is having difficulties in coping. The sheer weight of tommorrow's load means we need to mobilise the totality of the intellect available to the House.

It is necessary for Parliamentarians and the community to ask whether the current Parliament serves it purpose:

Does it represent the people and through its legislative processes does it protect the rights of the people?

Does it enable policies to be incorporated into law speedily after full and open discussion?

Does it provide a forum for the discussion of national and foreign issues and current controversies?

Does it provide a continuing oversight of the working of the Executive Government?

There appears to be a deepening interest in Parliamentary reform, but we need a far more systematic approach and more concerted attention to overcome the neglect of the past.

The indifference of 77 years has allowed to develop a large backlog of issues which threaten the arteries of the Parliamentary institution. Parliamentary reform is not the knee jerk reaction of a disaffected member nor the cynicism of an old hand, it is a considered response to today's needs - fired by urgency. The urgency is that if Parliamentary democracy cannot adapt to today and demonstrate to the people whom it serves its ability to perform the functions I have listed then it will atrophy. The agenda for Parliamentary reform is now long indeed.

It is one thing to draw attention to current difficulties and problems and quite a different thing to gain support for suggested solutions; it is easier to analyse what is wrong than to implement the reforms or to set matters right. Complex issues are involved in finding acceptable solutions but it is a great pity that Executive Governments have not so far been prepared to see the need to ensure the effectiveness of the Parliamentary institution as a matter deserving a high priority. There has been more reform in this parliament than any which has preceeded it. Legislation Committees and Estimates Committees which give detailed consideration will develop a major constructive contribution.

I believe that the House of Representatives must be reformed. Otherwise the institution of Parliament will be weakened.

For example, fundamental changes are necessary in the following areas: a budget for Parliament; the role of the Speaker; televising proceedings; role of Committees.

Each of these items involves issues of some complexity. They should not, indeed could not, be resolved quickly or easily. I do not argue for instant Parliamentary reform of a kind which would ignore the proper relationship between the three arms of government in the Westminster system. The system upon which the government of the Commonwealth is irrefutably based.

I believe that the move to a new building will facilitate some important reforms.

Adequate and functionally efficient office accommodation for Members and their staff will strengthen the arm of the private Member. Provision of up-to-date computer, information retrieval and communications technology throughout the building will give individual Members immediate access to a wider range of written, and audio/visual material.

Operations of Parliamentary committees will be more effective in the new accommodation. The greater opportunity for access by the public and the media combined with more functional arrangements will give increased impact to the role and work of committees. Inevitably their work like that of the House itself will be taken to the people by television.

As architects it is your profession to know the important relationship that the physical and aesthetic nature of a building has to the functions and work life of the institution it houses. The sheer importance of the institution, within this building, makes this project the most significant single architectural task that Australia has yet undertaken. There can be a more significant project only if the entire constitutional structure changes. Only if the fulcrum of the sovereignty of the people, which is the Parliament, is displaced by an alien concept of authoritarianism would that be possible.

I am a Parliamentary reformer; but, let me notionally join your profession as a designer - of Parliamentary functions.

There are aspects of the present Parliament and its procedures which I would like to see incorporated in the permanent House.

The shape and size of the chambers give the close proximity of Members to each other which creates a more direct involvement of all Members in the affairs of the Parliament. It produces an atmosphere of more vibrant communication. The Australian Parliament is combative often and unpredictable always, lt can transform from tranquility to uproar by half a dozen energy packed words/This is a healthy, and if constructively handled leads to more effective performance of the players. We must not lose this attribute of theatre in the round with every Member of Parliament a participant.

There are many Parliaments in the world in which the behaviour of the Members is impeccable. They speak only when programmed and clap on cue. Certainly they are very well behaved Parliaments. But they do .not hold the sovereignty of the people as our Parliament does. Members are elected to this Parliament to speak truth and demand the truth without any sense of fear or search for favour, lt is natural therefore, that Members will hold deep seated convictions which they will frequently express passionately. If that be a fault, I will accept it rather than surrender a truly free democratic parliamentary system.

In the new building I do not wish to see repeated the unplanned and confused mix of residents accommodation provided to its Members, media and staff which exists now. Yet it is essential to provide an arrangement by which these elements can interact without unnecessary restriction. The design brief calls for this. The winning designer must achieve it.

We all recognize the importance of looking ahead and planning for the future. This was never more important for the Parliament than it is now - both in respect to the. institution and the new building.

I am confident we can rely on the competing architects to be bold in their concepts. We, the politicians must match it. We need some of the vision shown by Walter Burley Griffin in his design for Canberra.

We should grasp fully Griffin's perception of the physical future of the National Capital with Parliament House as its apex building. Then we should ensure that the institution within it is equally exciting and equally capable of sustaining the integrity of its purpose, as his plan has, not withstanding the pulls and drags of human inadequacy whether it be caused by rooted conservation, mediocrity or plain foolishness.


Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I thank the House. Mr Speaker pointed out that on an ordinary sitting day the House is invaded by about 300 members, senators and staff to add to the 1 ,690 public servants regularly employed here and the 500 visitors who pass through the building each day. The joint committee set tip a study group which left Australia on 21 June 1968 to visit . parliamentary buildings in many exotic parts of the world. It went to Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, Rome, Berlin, Bonn, London, Washington, Ottawa and even Honolulu. It gathered together all the great ideas that were featured in all those magnificent parliamentary buildings and laid down guidelines under which a brief was prepared for an architectural competition, so its contribution has been significant.

Its recommendations took into account the number of members and senators who would need accommodation in the future. For example, it contended that by 2000 there would be 108 senators, close to double what we have now, and 225 members, which would be about 100 more than we have now. It made positive stipulations about the requirements- the two parliamentary chambers, the halls and foyers, committee rooms, film theatrette, viewing room, facilities for visitors, the Executive and the Press, television transmission, office space, dining space, parking, security and so on. A very complex job was undertaken by that committee.

I want to place a little emphasis on the provision of space for the parties to preserve and exhibit their artefacts - the historical things. It is amazing how quickly things contemporary become historical. In this building we have no place to exhibit the portraits and photographs which have been faithfully preserved since 1901 - since Federation - of members of the Parliamentary Labor Party. I hope we will be able to feature such material. 1 hope that we will have provision for electronic voting as is featured in many parliaments round the world. I will not take the trouble to enunciate the statistics tonight. I hope that there will be escalators for the fast movement of members and people who use the place and that there will be proper facilities for lobbyists and even demonstrators so that the true voice of democracy can be heard, that voice of the people can ring out in this building and that the people can be sensibly accommodated while they are here putting a case to the people who represent them.

I hope that, as the honourable member for Cook said, the gallery has the capacity to cater for the large number of school children who come in to this building and who will come into the new one. When the announcement was made at the Academy of Science about the winning competitor, Fred Daly contended that there should be adequate facilities for retired members. I am prepared to support him in that respect. It is amazing that there has been so little criticism of this build1 ing. The little that has been made of it has been about the cost. The Australian newspaper of 16 August referred to the fact that the joint committee was stunned by the new price tag. I will have a little more to say about that.

On 27 June the Canberra Times referred to the security problems and said that it was a mixed bag from a security point of view. In the same newspaper there was mention that the Parliamentary Library was dissatisfied because part of the Library would be on the chamber level and other parts would be on the next two floors up. Just let me warn whoever is responsible that the Parliamentary Library is sacrosanct and needs to be effectively accommodated. It cannot be treated cheaply. It was mentioned in the Canberra Times again on 27 June, that the Press Gallery was relegated to the Senate side of the building and that the bar was on the House of Representatives side and not close enough to the Senate side. The criticisms are directed at funny little things. There is no significant opposition at all. I do not think the other comments that I have taken out really justify mention. We have never had a large and significant building gain so much popular acclaim and attract so little criticism. Australians generally are excited about the building.

I shall conclude by issung a warning about the cost factor. Several newspapers have made mention of this. I see in the Australian of 16 August an article headed: 'New House cost now $220m plus'. The article reads:

The estimated cost of the new Parliament House in Canberra has soared by 46 per cent before the first sod has even been turned.

The joint committee, chaired by the Speaker, Sir Billy Snedden, and the Senate President, Sir Condor Laucke, was reported to be stunned by the new price tag.

I would not be surprised at that. A number of other newspapers have referred to this matter in different ways. I notice in the Sydney Morning Herald of 10 July the heading: 'New Parliament cost under $400m, say architects'. The article makes the point that the architects believe that the final cost will be below $400m. Let me mention that we have had experience in Australia with rising costs. The most classic example was the Sydney Opera House, called Sydney's seaside Taj Mahal. The increases in costings for that building were absolutely amazing. The original estimate was $9m. The final cost was more than $ 1 24m, representing a rise by a factor of 1 4 to 1 or 1,400 per cent. We are confronted with this situation. The competition figure for this new parliament house was $151 m the estimate for the winning design moved up to $ 156.4m, and the new estimate at August this year ran to $220m. So the estimate has already risen by 46 per cent. If the cost of this new parliament house is to increase at the same rate as the cost of the Sydney Opera House, the final cost of the new parliament house will not be the $1 51m that we started with but no less than $2,1 14m. I do not want to frighten the Parliament and I do not want to frighten the nation; nevertheless that will be the trend.

I do not think that we will get that 14 to 1 factor that characterised the incredible lack of control over the cost of the Opera House, but it should be remembered that there has already been criticism to the effect that we are making our decision before we have taken the time to firm up on the design plans and matters of that kind. I think I will take a bit of a punt and make a prediction that we will not get out of building this new Parliament House for less than $500m. If in fact we spend that amount and we have a facility, a parliamentary building, that effectively serves the needs of this nation and contributing to the advancement of this country, then even I will not begrudge the expenditure. But I put it to this Government, in the short time that it has in which to prevail over those matters, that it should be ever wary and watchful. On behalf qf the Opposition, I say that when we come to office after the next election we will be pushing for the early completion of this new parliamentary building so that it will be a feature of the 1988 centenary celebrations. I hope that we will have a lot to do with giving taxpayers good value for their money.







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