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Wednesday, 24 October 1973
Page: 2586

Mr GILES (Angas) -I rise this morning to support the amendment moved by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren). I regard it as being a proper, responsible and down to earth suggestion. Before I launch into the proper reasons for that view I should like to remind the House of the key to the thought process of those who will support the Minister. It is outlined in clause (c) of the amendment which states:

The site for the new House should be on Camp Hill, to permit the use of the first stage in association with the existing building.

He then went or. approximately to duplicate the original motion put forward by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes).

The Camp Hill site meets the requirements of size, at 65 acres, of involvement with the rest of the design concept of Canberra, and of access. In the latter 2 aspects it is superior to Capital Hill and in the first, as the previous speaker, the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) said, is marginally less but nevertheless still quite satisfactory. In the case of directional character the Camp Hill site is markedly superior. It allows a wider variety of design alternatives with a probable saving in capital outlay - in other words, greater economic advantage to the nation, to the Parliament and to the design. Access advantages are similar, and can be studied by all honourable members if they look at the plans visible in King's Hall. The access advantage is marginally greater than that of the present Parliament House and considerably superior to the access to a site on Capital Hill. This could no doubt be overcome but at considerable public expense in planning and constructing perhaps new underground and new arterial routes through to Yarralumla and beyond to the growing new suburbs of Mawson, Farrer, 0*Malley and others.

The present Parliament House costs the public of Australia $120,000 a year in maintenance and is clearly uneconomic. Both the mover of the motion, the honourable member for Corio, and the seconder have done the right thing, I am sure, in trying to resolve the matter, to hasten it through this House and to seek consultation with another place. I turn now to the internal structure of this place. Some areas can be described only as dungeons and others can be described as pigsties. They are of a quality not acceptable to officers, the staff or the members of Parliament at this time in our history.

A new parliament house as a total concept is a 10-year project of planning, design and construction and involves an assessed cost of $75m. This is a very large sum to find, even if spread over a decade as I have suggested. I am in favour of the amendment moved by the Minister for Urban and Regional Develop ment who suggested a partial or gradual construction. This meets the needs of early construction on the one hand and practical reality in regard to funding and finance on the other.

I return to the problem of the two alternative sites and I want to quote what was said recently by the National Capital Development Commission. The Commission stated: _ An appropriate way to sum up the studies on visual eminence and symbolism would be to say that Capital Hill is dominant, detached and obvious. Camp Hil] is prominent and associated with other development in the triangle and with other public activities. [ add that the Commission obviously is falling over itself in an effort to be fair and impartial in that statement. Camp Hill is Burley Griffin's site as part of the whole design of the centre of Canberra. Burley Griffin has brought nothing but lustre to the international fame of this national Capital and to the plea .-e of the people who live here. His dec. .on in this case obviously must stand and I support the amendment moved by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development.

Mr KEATING(Blaxland) 12.40)- I rise to speak in this debate a little confused by the issues related to the 2 sites on offer for the : cation of the new and permanent parliament house. When this debate was initiated a couple of months ago, I was persuaded by the proposition moved by way of amendment by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren). I certainly can see a lot of merit in that proposal on the basis that construction work would be carried out in stages and that this would reduce greatly some of the hardships faced by members with respect to accommodation. When work on the new building was completed, the present Parliament House building could be demolished and its chambers and the other attractive parts of it incorporated in the new building. I thought that that plan had merit. I think that it still does.

But I am persuaded to support the motion moved by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes). I do so on the basis that I believe that finally there will not be left behind the Camp Hill site, should the new Parliament House be built on it, a grassy hill. In the original Walter Burley Griffin plan - he was successful in the competition which was held in 1911 for the design of the national capital - Walter Burley Griffin envisaged on the Capital Hill site an administration building and a general hall which was to be called

The Capitol'. The only support I have for my claim that any building will be erected on Capital Hill is the manner in which the National Capital Development Commission, with the concurrence of the last Administration, emasculated the Capital Hill site. By constructing a ring road around Capital Hill the NCDC frustrated any proposal by the Parliament to put the new parliamentary building on Capital Hill. If we determine to build the new parliament house on Camp Hill - the land available there is limited to 65 acres - I can see the day arriving in a few years when we will find that the grassy knoll which we envisage would remain behind that building will become the site for a general administration building for the czars of the Commonwealth Public Service. As far as I am concerned, that is not on.

It is most naive for the Minister for Urban and Regional Development and the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) to believe that an expression of opinion today will not preclude any initiative by the Commonwealth Public Service to put a building there at some future time. If the amendment moved by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development provided that agreement to the Camp Hill site precluded any building being erected on Capital Hill, I would be persuaded to support him.

Mr Uren - You move an amendment to that effect and we will support it.

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