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Thursday, 23 August 1973
Page: 285

Mr SCHOLES (Corio) - I move:

(1)   That this House is of the opinion that -

(a)   the site for the New and Permanent ParliamenHouse should be determined forthwith.

(b)   a joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives should be convened to determine the matter, and

(c)   planning for the new House should commence immediately.

(2)   That a message be sent to the Senate acquainting it of this resolution and requesting its concurrence.

The motion which appears on the notice paper is, I think, the most practical form in which such a motion can be passed by this House. The House previously has expressed an opinion on the site of Parliament House - one with which I disagree. The Senate also has expressed an opinion which differs from that of the House. Moving the motion in the form in which it now appears on the notice paper I believe presents the only means by which the question can properly be resolved.

If we proceeded in this House as my former motion would have provided and again made a decision on a site, either site might be chosen. But we would still be in the position that the Senate might choose a different site. So we would be back to the situation which existed on the last occasion this matter was debated. I believe it is a question which should be decided with some degree of urgency. It is nearly 10 years since the Lake site was substituted for the original Camp Hill site. The Capital Hill site was voted against by this House but agreed to by the Senate. This House was then in conflict with the Senate on the proposed site. The only means by which a solution can be arrived at by the majority of members of the Parliament - I believe this is not a matter for the House of Representatives or for the Senate to decide - is for it to be resolved by the collective will of the members of the Parliament.

I acknowledge that any decision which will be made to proceed with the construction of a new and permanent parliament house will have to be an Executive decision whereby the Executive of the day will decide whether it is able or prepared to allocate funds for that purpose. I do not believe that precludes the House from expressing its opinion that the matter is urgent. I do not believe there is any member of this House - any Minister, any member of the Opposition or any backbench member of the Government - who does' hot" agree that this particular House is' totally unsatisfactory, taking into account the fact that approximately 1,000 people work in it. This House was built originally as a temporary structure because at that time the Parliament was unable to agree on a permanent parliament house site and, because of the necessity to have a House for the Parliament, a very substantial temporary structure was erected.

The stage has now been reached where the cost of additions and maintenance that must be carried out is becoming ludicrous. Almost every -year Sim or more is spent on extensions to patch up a building which has outlived its economic usefulness. It is a historic building and one which I think most honourable members would like to see preserved but, as with many such structures, the preservation of a building does not necessarily mean that it can perform the function for which it wis originally designed. In Britain the Tower of London is preserved but it is no longer used for imprisoning prisoners or for the dislocation of one's head from one's body, which was its original purpose.

The motion asks that the site be resolved immediately. It asks the Senate to co-operate in a joint sitting with this House to resolve the site. I believe that at such a sitting the question of the 2 sites could be adequately debated and resolved. 1 think that at this time we should decide to ask for a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament. I do not intend to debate the merits; of the 2 sites now. Every honourable member in this House knows where I stand on that matter. I firmly believe that the most adequate site is Capital Hill. There may be, and no doubt there will be, very sound, useful and practical reasons advanced for the site at Camp Hill being adopted. I do not believe that it would be in the interests of resolving the question before us to go into that at this time. If amendments are moved to provide for a site, we will delay the resolution of this question indeterminately. We will almost be in a situation of disagreement with the Senate and will have to revert to asking for a joint meeting to resolve the question, lt is a question that should be decided by an absolute majority of members of both Houses. I move this motion because I believe it is the best way to solve the problem. I move it because I believe that the problem of the site should be resolved quickly. Plans are already afoot for the partial construction or the starting of construction of a new parliament house on the Camp Hill site. These plans can be looked at and proceeded with only if there is agreement by both sides of the Parliament or by the majority of members of the Parliament.

I said earlier I did not intend to go into the merits or demerits of either of the sites. The reason I have changed the motion so that it reads as it does is to try to resolve the situation. It is most unlikely that we will get a result by a unanimous decision of both Houses. This is a matter that should be decided by the members of the Parliament and not the Executive. Any failure by members of Parliament to resolve the problem will be a transference of the responsibility to the Executive. We can resolve the question only by all of the members of Parliament meeting together, discussing the question fully and reaching a decision. The motion I have moved meets the requirements of solving the problem. I have not canvassed the merits of the sites. I hope that the House will pass the motion in the form in which it appears because it calls for action which will resolve the question. I hope the House can move quickly to a vote on this question so that we can proceed with the business of resolving the location of the new and permanent parliament house. I repeat what I said earlier: Whilst it is an Executive decision whether we proceed or when any construction is proceeded with, the House has a right to express an opinion that it believes that planning should commence immediately.

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