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Wednesday, 24 October 1973
Page: 2605

Mr DUTHIE (Wilmot) - I think I will be the last speaker in this debate this afternoon so I will be as quick as I can. When Burley Griffin was in consultation with the Government of the day in the early 1920s he was horrified when he discovered that the Public Works Committee of the day had decided to put the present Parliament House on this site. He did not want it here. He said that the new and permanent parliament house would, in due course, be on Camp Hill and that if the temporary building were placed on its present site it would destroy the symmetry of the whole of the parliamentary triangle. In other words, this building would block the view right across the lake to the Australian War Memorial. The proof of what he said can easily be seen by walking behind the present building and looking across the lake. So the mistake that was made by a stupid Public Works Committee at that time is still with us.

Mr Corbett - I thought they were all good.

Mr DUTHIE - They are not all good. That mistake is still with us. The mistake was made by the bureaucracy in charge of planning at that time. The man who knew what he was talking about was ignored. That is why this House is on the present site.

In 1968 a joint parliamentary committee, of which I and many other honourable members in this House at the moment were members, was set up. That committee which was called the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House, consisted of 21 or 22 members. It had on it the leaders of 2 parties together with the Speaker and the President. It was a very worthwhile committee. The Committee met over a period of 2i years. We sent a delegation overseas to study parliament houses around the world. This was the right thing to do. The Committee's report was presented to the Parliament and drawings for the new and permanent parliament house were included in that report. That report covered all the details of what the new house would contain, including facilities for television and all modern requirements. It dealt with every conceivable thing. We planned on the basis of the new building lasting for 400 years. We suggested that both chambers would encompass a system of movable walls so that as the Parliament grew with the growth of Australia the walls of the chambers would be moved out without the necessity to have huge structural changes.

It was a marvellous design to cater for the expansion of the Parliament that would inevitably take place as the nation grew. Where is that report and design? Where has all that work gone? It has gone down the drain. The report is in the archives. I am utterly disgusted with what has happened in regard to this matter. I would like to walk out on this debate. I would like to walk out without voting and take no part in it as a protest against what has happened to that magnificent report of March 1970 after 2i years of hard work. The new members in this House would not know anything about it. But the report is in the archives for anyone who wishes to see it. That Committee was set up to bring down recommendations for a new and permanent parliament house. A vote was to be taken on the site for the new building. That is something that we did not decide as a committee. We said that Parliament should decide it. That was its right. What happened when we voted in this place on the site? The honourable member who is interjecting was not here at the time so I would appreciate it if he did not interrupt. However, we took a vote in this House and I think there was a majority of 11 for Camp Hill. A vote was taken in the Senate and there was a majority of about 40 for Capital Hill. So, the senators in their wisdom said: 'We will have a joint meeting to decide it.' That did not take place because we would not let the Senate dominate the final vote at that stage.

Then there was a period when no action was taken, and one day in 1971 the then Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), came into this House and made the shortest speech a Prime Minister has ever made. In effect, he said: 'The Cabinet has met and has made a decision to resolve this deadlock as to the site of the new parliament house. It will be built on Camp Hill'. He then sat down. Unfortunately, the forces that were at work to destroy him - mainly the Press - finally destroyed him. They destroyed John Gorton, a Prime Minister. His successor did not make a decision on this matter. He did not go on with it. He, like any Prime Minister, has the privilege of putting in the wastepaper basket the decisions of previous Prime Ministers. He did just that and I suppose that if ever there was a man guilty of not having started or planned anything in relation to the permanent parliament house, it was the successor to the right honourable member for Higgins. I admire the* right hon ourable member for Higgins for his courage and for many of the things he did in this Parliament, and the decision he took to place the new parliament on Camp Hill was one of them. But it did not go any further than that. That was 2\ years ago and we have got no further fast.

I turn now to the 2 motions before the House. We have the one moved by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) which states:

(a)   action should be taken forthwith to initiate the planning and design of the new and permanent Parliament House;

That has already been done. It is all there in detail in the report that was brought down by that Joint Committee. His amendment continues:

(b)   the design should encompass the total building complex but should permit staged construction;

I cannot have a bar of staged construction of a parliament house. If we built the future parliament house in this way, it would be the only parliament house in the world that was built in stages. I know that the Minister wants to get on with it and I appreciate his initiative in putting the plans out in Kings Hall. I appreciate his energy in what he has done and tried to do but I cannot honestly support a parliament house built in stages. The third point of his amendment was:

(c)   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, . . .

The Minister was a Capital Hill man. He has changed his mind, and I appreciate that he did change his mind. Once he started talking about staged construction, he had to recommend Camp Hill as the site. We could not attach this Parliament House to a permanent parliament house on Capital Hill. It had to be on Camp Hill, and that is the site on which I personally would like it to be built, though appreciating that it will have to be Capital Hill if a new separate House is to be built in a continuous program. But today I am going to vote for the motion moved by the honourable member for Corio. I still would like to see the new parliament house on Camp Hill but the joint meeting between the Senate and the House of Representatives will, I am afraid, defeat the Camp Hill site. But this is looking into the future.

Nevertheless, let us come to this point: Wherever the new parliament house is built, on Capital Hill or Camp Hill, for goodness sake let us start the process moving as fast as we can. It will take 10 years to build a new parliament house. It will cost nearly $100m if it is to be built on Capital Hill because it will be a brand new building, not a staged building, not a bits and pieces building but a building started and finished and then lived in and worked in. That is the sort of building I want and I think most people around Australia would want that type of building, too. As the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr McKenzie) said a while ago- this will answer all the fears of honourable members - $100m seems to be a tremendous cost, but so it did for the Sydney Opera House. But that was built over 14 years. When we divide 14 into $100m, we find that that is not much a year and if we divided 10 years into $100m we would find the cost would be $10m a year. That is a small amount to put aside in each Budget for a brand new parliament house. So, I hope we will return to the decision of the Joint Committee and build that type of parliament house on Capital Hill, if it must be built there. However, I am disgusted with all the delays of the past Administrations. I feel that we are making an historic decision when we vote in this House on this matter today, whichever way the vote goes.

Mr KEATING(Blaxland)- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation on a decision I attributed to a former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton). I said that he overruled decisions of both Houses. In fact, he overruled the decision of the Senate. There having been conflicting decisions, the House of Representatives having decided on the site of Camp Hill and the Senate having decided upon Capital Hill, he took the view that because the House of Representatives was the appropriating House the view of that House should prevail. To that extent I misrepresented him.

Mr UREN(Reid- Minister for Urban and Regional Development) - Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.

Mr SPEAKER - Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr UREN - Yes, the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) quoted from my speech of 1968 in which I supported the location of the new and permanent parliament house on Capital Hill. He then went on to say that I had been brainwashed by the bureaucracy in taking up a new position. The situation is that the Minister for Labour did not explain that in my arguments in 1968 was arguing against the lakeside site. I said that I wanted an uninhibited view from Capital Hill through to the War Memorial. If the new parliament house is situated on Camp Hill, it will still give that uninhibited view between Camp Hill and the War Memorial. Might I say that, unlike the Minister for Labour, I am not committed to dogma but my mind is open to change.

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