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Wednesday, 24 October 1973
Page: 2592

Mr HAMER (Isaacs) - I feel that a great deal of the debate we have heard so far has been rather irrelevant to the issue we have to decide. Both the motion and the amendment call for a joint meeting of the Senate and this House to decide on the site of the new and permanent Parliament House. Many of the points that have been made so far really should, and presumably will, be put before that joint meeting. I reserve my remarks on the site for that joint meeting, on which the motion and the amendment agree. The amendment adds 2 suggestions - firstly, it suggests a particular site, that is, Camp Hill; and, secondly, it suggests a particular method of construction. It so happens that I agree with both suggestions.

I do not feel it is appropriate or necessary at this time for this House to decide on those 2 points. I would like to make my personal position clear. I believe that a new and permanent Parliament House is necessary. We have to look ahead to the many years that the construction of this new House will take. We must look forward to a much larger House of Representatives and Senate. Canada, which in population terms is about 30 years ahead of Australia, has a House of Commons of 260 members. I ask honourable members to envisage what this chamber would be like with 260 members in it. The facilities for the present members of this House are almost beneath contempt. We need much better facilities. We also need proper facilities for staff. This might induce the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) to provide us with that staff. He frequently uses the excuse of a lack of accommodation for his failure to provide such staff.

What we must also look at is the consequences of choosing a new site. The retention of the present building was rejected when the House, by an overwhelming majority - I agreed with the decision - turned down the lakeside site. The only way in which the present building could be retained would be if we were to choose the lakeside site. Once either Camp Hill or Capital Hill is chosen this Parliament House must be demolished. Aesthetic considerations leave us with no other option. Let me make my position clear. I would prefer Camp Hill. The reason is a very simple one. Camp Hill was chosen by Walter Burley Griffin, the designer of this city, and every time this House has departed from the concepts of Walter Burley Griffin it has regretted doing so. For that reason, when it comes to a joint meeting of the Senate and this House, as I hope it will, I will opt for Camp Hill.

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