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Tuesday, 12 December 1911

Senator VARDON - Practically the whole of the members of this Parliament who were in London at the time inspected the site for themselves. Iri the first place, it has a decidedly advantageous situation. It is located right in the Strand, it is open upon all sides, and' no more suitable spot could be obtained upon which to erect Commonwealth offices, either from an advertis- ing point of view, or from the stand-point of providing accommodation for the Commonwealth in time to come. It is vacant land with the exception of a little block of buildings on one corner, which has been erected by the Victorian Government, and which, I suppose, can be merged into a general plan for Commonwealth offices.

Senator McGregor - That block of buildings was erected with that end in view.

Senator VARDON - At any rate it may easily form part and parcel of a plan for general offices to be erected there. We have nothing to destroy. The land is vacant, and thus we shall be able to adopt the plan which is best suited, not only to the requirements of the Commonwealth itself, but to those of the various States. Though so far no communication has been opened up with the States, I feel certain that they will be so impressed with the site and with the advantage to be derived from having the entire Commonwealth represented under one roof, that they will very soon fall in with it. An immense amount of traffic is passing this spot during every minute of the day, and, therefore, from an advertising stand-point, a better site could not be obtained in London. We know, too, that in that city Canada has adopted a vigorous policy in the matter of advertising her resources, and in procuring substantial offices so as to make the best possible show. But at the present time we have Commonwealth offices in Victoriastreet, Victorian offices on the corner of the site which is now under consideration, Queensland offices in another part of the city, and South Australian offices away in the east end of London. Thus Australian offices are scattered all over the city.

Senator Pearce - And lost in the scattering.

Senator VARDON - Exactly. If we can get all these offices concentrated at one point, it will be an immense advantage from the stand-point of advertising Australia. Anybody who desires to obtain information in regard to any part of the Commonwealth will then be able to secure it by visiting one building. Moreover, I take it that the project of the Government will provide us with an excellent opportunity to exhibit the products of Australia, so that instead of an inquirer having to visit one place to ascertain what Queensland produces, and to see the splendid timber which she grows, or being compelled to visit an other portion of the city to see South Australia's exhibits in wheat and fruit, he will be able to obtain all the information available at the one spot. Personally, I do not think that the price asked for the site is at all out of the way. We have to recollect that in London - especially in this particular locality - the value of land is bound to increase largely as the years go by. Consequently, as a matter of investment, the undertaking is sure to pay. Even if it does not yield the full rate of interest upon the capital outlay at the beginning it will do so before long, and ere many years have passed we shall find that these offices are not only a very great convenience to the whole of the people of Australia, but that they are a paying proposition. Having seen the site, and satisfied myself of the advantages of it, and having looked at the whole question from every stand-point, I have the greatest confidence in supporting the resolution.

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