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Wednesday, 24 October 1973
Page: 2595

Mr WHITTORN (Balaclava) - The subject of the new and permanent Parliament House has been raised on 3 or possibly 4 occasions since I 'have been in Parliament. I will not bring to my speech the oratorical splendour of the speech of the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) but at least on this occasion I do have an opportunity to speak, while on the previous occasions there was a 2-hour debate and this opportunity was not presented to me. At the outset I think I ought to say that I support the motion moved by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes). I think his motion should be read because it illuminates the problem that besets the Parliament. This is what the honourable member for Corio presented to the House on 23 August last:

This House is of the opinion that -

(a)   the site for the New and Permanent Parliament House 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.

I believe that the reason the honourable member for Corio put his motion in that form on 23 August was to ensure that a decision was achieved. However, in the debate today no doubt it will be seen that the amendment of the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) will be carried and we will be back to square one. We will send the amendment over to the Senate and the Senate will reject the amendment as it has rejected these things on so many occasions. We all know that the last time the problem of the new and permanent Parliament House problem was referred to the Senate it voted for Capital Hill 46 votes to two. The same situation will arise as a result of the amendment to this motion. It will go to the Senate and the Senate will reject it as it has in the past. So, I pay a tribute to the honourable member for Corio for showing us the way at least to avoid the prospect of this matter being pigeonholed for another 12 months or 18 months after which we would debate it again and again achieve no result.

I am surprised that the Minister for Urban and Regional Development has changed his mind, as was mentioned by the Minister for Labour. I will not castigate him to the same extent as the honourable member for Hindmarsh did, but I will read some of the things he said in 1969. The honourable member for Reid started speaking at 9.47 p.m. and his speech appears in Hansard at page 1794. He was talking about the bureaucrats and said:

On the first occasion I said that the National Capital Development Commission was trying to use the Parliament as a rubber stamp.

This is what characterised his speech that day. He had been to Washington and he had seen a lovely view of the Lincoln Memorial from various aspects. He went on to say:

I remember how impressive it looked. I can envisage something similar in Canberra if the new parliament house is built on Capital Hill.

People will be able to look along Commonwealth Avenue or King's Avenue and see a site similar to that of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Who said that?

Mr WHITTORN - The Minister for Labour interjected and asked: 'Who said that?' It was said by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development. One can hardly believe it, reading it in the cold light of this day. The present Minister for Urban and Regional Development went on to say on page 1796 of Hansard of 14 May 1969:

I hope that members of this Parliament will exercise their democratic rights and determine that the new parliament house should be built on Capital Hill. Then we will be able to plan correctly.

How right the Minister was then and how wrong he is today in instituting this amendment to the motion moved by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes). I think a lot of things should be brought to the light of day concerning the new and permanent parliament house. Very few people on the Government side realise that when we came back for the 28th Parliament in February of this year 3 new members on this side of the House, because of lack of room, did their work for 6 months in the party room. This is the sort of arrangement that has to be put up with when one reaches Opposition and a new Government takes over. But it is all brought about by the fact that there is a lack of capacity in this building to look after the interests of all members of Parliament. As the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) said earlier. there will be more members of Parliament in Canberra in the years ahead. Can anyone envisage just how they will fit into this chamber on the one hand and into the. Senate on the other hand. I agree with the view expressed in 1969 by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development, when he was the honourable member for Reid, that 7 avenues lead directly to Capital Hill and the 2 main avenues, Commonwealth Avenue and Kings Avenue, indicate just where the parliament house should be.

In the evidence taken by the Committee set up by the previous Government it was mentioned that we should follow what Burley Griffin had initiated in 1923. I believe that after 50 years there are good reasons why we can alter at least this part of the concept that Burley Griffin had then. Evidence was given to that Committee that there were no engineers or sociologists in this Parliament. I have said subsequently and I repeat that I have been a chartered engineer since 1936. Therefore the evidence presented to that Committee was incorrect. I believe that the Committee should have ascertained whether there were in the Parliament sociologists, engineers or other people concerned with the erection or siting of the new parliament house. The evidence given to that Committee was incorrect. The Committee based its findings on a wrong premise. I agreed with the minority report put to the Parliament by the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) and the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), who is now the Minister for the Capital Territory. I believe they were right in putting forward the minority report. I believe it was a correct report. They are now supporting what they contended in those days.

It seems to me that a few words ought to be said about the reasons for the new parliament house being established on Capital Hill. The reasons are obvious. There are 7 avenues leading to Capital Hill. Once people who wish to see their representatives get on to these avenues they can take a beeline to Capital Hill because they know that their representatives will be there. The area surrounding Capital Hill is almost 160 acres - at least it was before the ring road was constructed there I believe that the Camp Hill site is only 47 acres. Furthermore, East Block and West Block will have to be razed to the ground, as I understand it, and this building will have to be razed to the ground if Camp Hill is used.

If a new and permanent parliament house is established at Capital Hill at least this building will be saved for posterity for the reasons mentioned by the Minister for Labour. I am a great supporter of the Capital Hill site. I have voted for it in the past and I will vote for it on this occasion.

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