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Wednesday, 24 October 1973
Page: 2601

Mr KATTER (Kennedy) - I have been a member of this Parliament for nearly 7 years. During that time I have heard the matter of the site for the new and permanent parliament house debated by numerous people on 3 occasions. I do not think there is very much left to be said about the matter. I think it has been covered very adequately today. But there are one or two aspects that I would like to bring to the attention of the House. Perhaps they have been mentioned already, but I would like to enlarge upon them.

The comment that most impressed me today was one made by the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) in which he placed emphasis upon the matter of space. The honourable member referred to the planning of the Capitol in Washington. Of course, we all know the great contribution made to the planning of Washington by the same Burley Griffin. The honourable member mentioned that the acreage of the complete administration area of Washington would be somewhere about the same as that of the space available on Capital Hill. Let me say at the outset that I favour the Capital Hill site. I am not terribly impressed by the argument about the greater accessibility of Camp Hill than Capital Hill. If that problem cannot be overcome, we are much further behind the times than I imagined we were. I am impressed by the argument about the space that is available.

We have spoken for some time about the inadequate facilities that are available to members of Parliament. They are inadequate, but they are not too bad. I am thinking not just in terms of the complex which will house Parliament and its staff - the great body of people who are involved in this great institution as the institution from which emanate laws which affect the life of each and every person in this nation. The Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) said that it would be rather difficult if we had to give the minute attention, thought and consideration that are demanded of those who legislate for the life of each and every person in this nation, as the matter goes beyond that.

As someone else pointed out, about 1 million people visit this city and probably come into this building each year. I think another 1 million should come in. I think in terms of our aged people and our very young people. I am not getting off the subject, Mr Speaker, because I am thinking in terms of the space available in the complex and the provision of conveniences for people such as our aged. When people get older they take a much greater interest in politics. They have more time to sit around and analyse what is happening in this nation. Politics is a talking point for them, and God bless them for it. Our young people also are showing more interest in politics. Not so long ago 'Patriotism' was not a popular word. God damn those who were responsible for that attitude growing up among young people. Fortunately, it is beginning to fade out. I believe that the bringing of young people to Canberra should be encouraged.

But how do honourable members think that I and others like me, who come from the far northern frontiers of Australia, feel when we see many young people coming to Canberra from Yass, Goulburn, Melbourne and places such as that and being taken through this House and having the great advantage - I do not want any comment on this - of seeing how their members of Parliament behave or misbehave, as the case may be. They have an opportunity to see the great legislative process taking place. But why should people from the far flung areas of this nation be deprived completely of such an opportunity, as young people or as elderly people, to visit this great institution? So we must think in terms of space. I do not think 130 acres is too much. That is one very powerful argument in favour of the Capital Hill site.

I commend the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) for bringing this matter forward. He has brought it forward in a form in which we can see some termination of the whole argument. It is not a nebulous sort of proposition whereby we will plan one section of the complex and then perhaps get around to planning the second stage and so on later. The honourable member for Corio has given us a decisive proposition. I commend him for doing so. I say that because of the experience I had as a member of the House Committee in trying to persuade those responsible to supply iced water in the dining room. It is not very. difficult to supply iced water in the dining room, but it took me 2 years to persuade the people concerned that water out of a tap or water that has passed through a refrigerator was not what we in the far flung parts of this nation call iced water. We now have iced water. I have no further complaints in that regard.

How long would it take to plan, call tenders and accept a tender for an institution of this kind? That is why I commend the honourable member for Corio in asking at least for a decision on this matter. Let us bring the 2 Houses of the Parliament together to make a decision; otherwise we will have to wait until the creaky old machinery of the Senate goes into action, and how long will it, take to produce a decision? Let us bring both Houses together and arrive at a decision. So I commend the honourable member for Corio in that regard.

I turn to the site itself. Everyone else has spoken about the site. Perhaps they have anticipated the final debate that will take place. What a bonanza it will be if members of the Senate and the House of Representatives are to be together here or wherever it may be. The joint meeting might be held in the Opera House. Speaking of the Opera House, honourable members should have a look at the space that is available around it. If one is not careful one will fall into the drink. So we should think in terms of space. As one approaches Canberra - I do not care where one approaches it from or how one approaches it - and begins to probe into the depths of the city area, or even from the environs of the city, the one aspect that hits one is Capital Hill. For that reason, that is where Parliament House should be. Canberra was selected as the seat of Government. The very heart of the seat of government is the building that houses the Parliament of this nation. Where would one find ia more prominent feature than Capital Hill? So if we want to talk in the aesthetic sense or in the sentimental sense, or merely to apply common sense we cannot go beyond Capital Hill.

My colleague somewhat doubted the great merit in retaining this building. It would be a very sad day for this nation if this building were to be demolished or interfered with in any way. I agree with the Minister for Secondary Industry (Mr Enderby) that it should be an active memorial, not just some great dead thing. I support the honourable member for Macquarie who stressed the aspect of space. We do not want only a building which will provide facilities for the actual Parliament and the people who attend us in this place; we want to have facilities available for all people of this nation so that they can come along and not feel that they are intruders. Do honourable members remember the notices which at one time appeared in the passageways 'Strangers not admitted'? My Government did away with those objectionable signs. People come to visit this place; they own it; we are elected by them, and yet there were signs 'Strangers not admitted into the lobbies'. What an objectionable thing this was. There is much more to the question than just the building itself and the functional operations of it as we understand them. We should erect the type of building that will offer a great welcome to the whole of the people of this nation. It should have special facilities for aged people and for young people, and some scheme should be worked out whereby both those classes of people could be brought to this national capital.

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