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Tuesday, 18 October 1983
Page: 1855

Mr SINCLAIR(6.24) —I will not delay the House for long. I want to canvass briefly a couple of aspects of this Bill. The first is that I think we are all delighted that progression is as it is on the new Parliament House site on Capital Hill. The consequence of that and the very necessary large sums of money spent in my view require that every caution be exercised in the appropriations that are your responsibility, Mr Speaker, and Mr President's responsibility. We on our side of the House believe that it is a significant advance that you, Mr Speaker, now exercise independent responsibility in this area. However, we believe that in the expenditure of such sums there obviously is an expectation by honourable members that facilities within this place should be improved in a way that we doubt can be justified, given the foreshadowed improvements that will be available for all members in such a short period. Accordingly, Mr Speaker, I hope that in the exercise of your responsibility you will take note that we in opposition are concerned that there should not be undue expenditure about this place.

Mr Speaker, the second matter I wish to canvass is that I believe that, as part of your responsibilities, there needs to be a concern for the Parliamentary Triangle. I gave notice today of my concern at the constructions that remain in the front of this place. Under the provisions of the Parliament Act 1974 there is power for the Government, and not for you, Mr Speaker, to take action upon this matter. I express my concern because there have often been many worthwhile opportunities for the citizens of Australia to forgather in that forecourt area and express attitudes to policies on issues in a way which enable everybody a dispassionate opportunity so to perform. The present tent city outside Parliament House, frankly, precludes that opportunity. I believe that it is a great indictment on this Government that it has taken no action to ensure that an adequate site is still available at the front of Parliament House where people can demonstrate if they so wish. I see that this matter might not be covered specifically by the provisions of this Bill, but it is one on which I hope that you, Mr Speaker, might exercise some persuasion with your colleagues in the Government. It is necessary that people have an opportunity to present points of view. Frankly, without that area in front of the Parliament House the opportunities are very much limited.

The third area which relates in part to that matter is that in the development of future policies for this city, I hope that the responsibility of the Parliament-of you, Mr Speaker, of Mr President, and of those of us who are members-is not forgotten, particularly regarding the new Parliament House site and the Parliamentary Triangle. Whatever developments there might be for the rest of Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory, it is my view that these areas lying within the precincts of the Parliament cannot and should not be included in the responsibilities that might be given to the Legislative Assembly in the Australian Capital Territory. This area very much relates to the function of the Federal Government. I believe it is necessary that we retain within this confine of Parliament House an opportunity for you, Mr Speaker, and Mr President to speak on our behalf and to preserve the environment which so essentially relates to the Parliament of Australia. Mr Speaker, while this matter again may not specifically relate to the provisions of this Bill, I believe it is something to which you might well give your attention.

Apart from those few items, the Opposition supports this measure and trusts that it will not be long before those very many deficiencies from which we all suffer will be rectified by our transfer to that other site, where construction is moving ahead so magnificently and where I have little doubt each individual member will be able to function so much more efficiently in the future.