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Tuesday, 27 May 1969

Senator LILLICO (Tasmania) - I do not know whether I will arrive at my decision by the means suggested by Senator Branson, that is, to vote for the rescission motion and then vote for something else, or whether I will vote against the rescission motion and allow to stand the existing motion which was carried some time ago. I have not made up my mind on that yet. But I know that I am in favour of the new parliament bouse being built on Capital Hill.

I was prompted to rise by the contentions we have heard throughout the debate, firstly, that the opinions of the experts should be followed, and secondly, that the decision of the Joint Select Committee also should be followed without deviation. We have heard those contentions expressed on several occasions during the debate. Experts, like the rest of us, are fallible. In point of fact some of them - only some - are people of great confusion. That has been pointed out to a degree during the currency of this debate by some of the other speakers. Lord Holford has been quoted very often as the one who suggested building the new parliament house on the lakeside. Thai was years ago. Several years after he made that recommendation he reported on the growth of Canberra, I was amazed that this man who had recommended the lakeside as the site for the new parliament house should make the following report years afterwards:

The emptiness of Parkes Place is an asset which both cities might envy. If the new Houses of Parliament are built on the lakeside, the pendulum will swing the other way; and a generation after that everyone will be looking for space and putting the carparks underground, or on two or more levels, in order to save it.

He was the man who recommended the lakeside and years afterwards reported, in effect, that if the new parliament house were built there the people would be looking for space and would be putting their car parks underground or on higher levels in order to conserve the space.

Senator McManus - That was Lord Holford who recommended the lakeside and then said that we would live to rue it?

Senator LILLICO - He is the man who made that recommendation. Because of that statement I believe that his previous recommendation stands condemned. I agree entirely with the contention that one of the first essentials in a new parliament house is that there be as much space as possible, and what would influence me in the choice of a site is the space that would be available.

The other contention is that the decision of the Select Committee which inquired thoroughly into this matter should be followed. I do not detract from the work that was done by that Committee. I am one of the first to concede that select committees do a wonderful job in unearthing information which otherwise would not be discovered and in assessing the facts, but when it comes to a decision on the location of a new parliament house then I say that the decision should be made by members of both Houses of Parliament. It should not be delegated to a select committee.

Senator McManus - Or to the Cabinet.

Senator LILLICO - Or to the Cabinet; I agree. A lot of the trouble in relation to this matter has arisen because years ago when the proposal was first mooted the matter was not put before members of both Houses of Parliament where it properly belonged. I was a member of a parliament where select committees were highly fashionable. I served on a good many of them and I learned that their decisions nearly always were prompted by the political complexion of the people who served on them. In point of fact the situation reached the stage where if you could pick the personnel of a committee you could bring in almost any decision you wished. I call to mind that on one occasion a select committee was set up to decide on a location for an agricultural college. The majority of the members of that committee were from the Bass area. There is no need for me to mention the location that was decided upon. It could well be that if another committee were chosen from both Houses of this Parliament tomorrow, then, depending upon the personnel of that committee, we could be faced with a different decision from the one before us this evening. I say that without being in any way disparaging of the Joint Committee which submitted the recommendation under consideration.

The question before us is the site upon which Parliament House should be built. I repeat that the members of this Parliament should not delegate the responsibility for making the decision to any joint committee. Again, when I say that I am in no way detracting from the work done by the Joint Committee. For the reasons that I enumerated on the last occasion, I favour the Capital Hill site. I believe that the area there is larger and, as the years go by, it will become more and more vital that space be available. Tt is the better location. It is the more dominant location, and, whatever means are used to decide the matter, I propose to come out in favour of the Capital Hill site.

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