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Wednesday, 24 October 1973
Page: 2588

Mr KEATING (BLAXLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If you move that amendment, I will support your proposal.

Mr Uren - You move it now; I cannot.

Mr KEATING - Mr Speaker, may I move and amendment to that effect?

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Do not do that. It is a trap.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! That cannot be done at this stage. Notice must be given of such action and copies must be circulated.

Mr KEATING - in that case, I will continue in my present vein. The Camp Hill site, restricted as it is to 65 acres, is a very limited area.

The parliamentary buildings in Washington and Ottawa are inadequate already. Even though the buildings are quite grandiose, they are inadequate because the sites on which they are built are too small. So I am persuaded to believe that the 81 acres that is presently available at the Capital Hill site, within the circumference of the ring road, is a reasonably large area for the parliamentary building. Additionally, another 60 acres is available between the circumference of the internal ring road and the outer ring road. This gives a total of some 140 acres on that site. So we are comparing a Capital Hill site of 140 acres with an area of 65 acres available on Camp Hill. On that basis, Capital Hill must be selected.

The only section of the Capital Hill ring road system which can jeopardise the Capital Hill site is the butterfly road past the Prime Minister's Lodge which leads to other areas of Canberra. That is the only section of the Capital. Hill ring road which could not be disturbed. The other sectors of it could be used. The internal ring road could be quite easily used as an access road to the parliamentary buildings themselves. There is no basis for anyone arguing that the internal ring road would be detrimental to the value of the site.

In returning to the proposal. I put this proposition: Firstly, we ought to support the site which provides sufficient area on which to erect a building which will be of value in the long-term. I do not think that an area of 65 acres is large enough. If honourable members choose the Capital Hill site they will allow this building to be kept in its entirety. Whilst many sections of it are not worth keeping other than just for office accommodation, I believe that this chamber, the Senate chamber and King's Hall are worth preserving. We can preserve this building and not interrupt the view straight down across the lake and up to the War Memorial, which would be the view from Capital Hill, and at the same time have a large enough area to build a building that would accommodate both the House of Representatives and the Senate and expanded staff facilities for honourable members.

It is argued - I think, with some reason - by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development that if we do not proceed now it will be a long time before we get a building. I accept his argument. I can see the value of staged construction - constructing the office accommodation sections first and then getting around to the chambers; I can see a lot of merit in that. But I think that this building will be a very historic building. As far as the national interest is concerned, I do not think that the factor of inconvenience to the present members of the Parliament ought to weigh heavily against the choosing of the Capital Hill site to build a larger parliament building. If we look at the proposal in its totality, on the basis that the building will be constructed in one stage and not in several stages as proposed in the amendment, 1 think that would be worth doing. Even if it takes a few years longer to get around to a competition and to build it in one go, that will be a better result in the long run than siting it on that small area between the back of this building and the ring road behind it, which comprises 65 acres, and then having to demolish most of the sections of this building.

Let me go back to the original proposition 1 put up because I want honourable members to take some notice of it. I believe that it is naive in the extreme to think that Capital Hill will remain a grassy hill. I think that it will have a building on it. If my hunch is right, the people that I refer to as the czars of the Commonwealth Public Service will have their empire based up there on top of Capital Hill. If someone says that is not on, who would have believed that the building of a ring road around Capital Hill was on? Who would have believed that the Parliament would have supported that? But the Gorton administration did not worry about that. The road went there anyway. That Prime Minister overruled the decisions of this House and the other House on the siting of the parliament house on Capital Hill. That is worrying to me. If there were to be no building up there, the Camp Hill site would be adequate in terms of the aesthetics of the view around Canberra. But if there were a permanent parliament house on Camp Hill and another conglomeration on Capital Hill the aesthetics would be destroyed, the parliament building would be obscured by what would be above it, and I do not think that would be an acceptable proposition. If Walter Burley Griffin, the winner of the original competition, proposed a parliament house on Camp Hill and a grassy area on Capital Hill, to be left at that, I would say: Fair enough; I would not like to upset his design. But that was not his intention. His intention was for parliament house to be on Camp Hill and for a larger building on Capital Hill. The function of that building would be immaterial; Walter Burley Griffin's choice as to the occupation of the other building need not be considered. The fact is that there would be 2 buildings, one on Capital Hill and one on Camp Hill. If that is to be the case, I submit that the building on Capital Hill ought to be the parliament house and not some head office for the bureaucracy. So on that basis I cannot support the amendment moved by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. I have no alternative but to support the proposition moved by the honourable member for Corio, which is that the question go to a vote of both Houses. Of course, both Houses have to decide it. Even if we decide here on Camp Hill, the matter has still to be considered by the Senate. It must go to a vote by both Houses. When both Houses decide, we let a competition for the design of the building to go on whatever site is chosen - I believe that Capital Hill ought to be and probably will be chosen - then we can proceed on the basis of erecting a building there. In much the same way a competition was let recently for the Sydney Opera House. Admittedly that took 14 years to build. Everybody talked about it in the past but now they are saying what a great concept and what a beautiful building it is. The period of 14 years has been forgotten, the cost will become cheaper as inflation makes the cost of buildings dearer, and people will say: 'Why did we not have a couple of them?'

There has been talk about delay and inconvenience to members, but they really are not very strong arguments. What is at issue, and what is the main consideration, is the quality of the building that goes on Capital Hill or on the site which is chosen by the two Houses of the Parliament. The quality of the building will not be impaired if we commence now a competition for the design of the building and construct it in one go, not in stages. For that reason I believe that I should support the proposal made by the honourable member for Corio, and in supporting his proposal I indicate to honourable members that when the opportunity comes to vote on the site I will vote for the Capital Hill site.

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