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Thursday, 8 November 1973
Page: 1698

Senator LITTLE (Victoria) -Mr President-

The PRESIDENT - Order! Are you speaking to Senator Prowse 's amendment or the original motion?

Senator LITTLE - I wish to speak in favour of Senator Murphy's motion, Mr President. The members of another place have seen fit to resolve that they should confer with us at a joint meeting on this matter of the site of a new and permanent parliament house. Members of both Houses of this Parliament have argued about this matter for years. It will never be new, it will never be permanent, it will never be at all the way things are going. We have received a positive indication from people in another place that they want to meet with us and what has happened? The issue of where we should meet has become highly critical. I believe that the Parliament of the State of Victoria was generous enough to remove itself to the Exhibition Building in Melbourne so that this institution could use it facilities. Why has so much emphasis been placed upon the importance of where we meet when this institution has not always met in this building? I think what the institution does and the brains it has are a lot more important than the furniture in the building or the venue of a meeting.

If there are insufficient public galleries in either of the Houses of this Parliament to accommodate another 60 members, I do not know where we can hold such a meeting. It has been suggested that we could even meet in the parliamentary dining room. We probably would be more comfortable meeting in it than we are at present in the slum conditions under which we work in this building. Although a new wing has been added to this building some members of Parliament still have to share a room. If both of the people who share a room receive deputations at the same time one has to sit outside in the corridors because the office is not commodious enough. In the under-privileged nations to which we make great subscriptions to help them build their parliament houses and so on an ordinary member has a suite of offices. I am ashamed to have to take visiting dignitaries from abroad into my parliamentary office. I had more dignity in the Parliament of the State of Victoria than I have in the Commonwealth Parliament.

I wish to make a positive suggestion about this matter. It is a fact that there has been a barrier against progress being made with this proposal. Although attempts have been made to start something they have been without success. The other place has now put forward the suggestion that we should all get together and talk the thing over. What are we going to do? We are going to be like a lot of old fuddy-duddies and say that there is no proper place in which to meet, that it would be beneath our dignity to meet in such a fashion and that the other place might take advantage of us because of its superior numbers. We will not achieve anything by sitting around waiting for a new parliament house to drop as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. We will achieve something only when there is sufficient brains, initiative and courage in this institution to let the people outside know precisely what circumstances prevail. I am sure the people would support us if we were to do so. They want a parliament house that is worthy of the nation.

Proper facilities should be provided not only to members of Parliament but also to staff. As a former trade union official I would have promoted a strike if members of my organisation were asked to work in a boot factory under the same conditions as people are working in Parliament House in Canberra. We who are responsiblethe members of Parliament- are doing nothing about improving the conditions. All we are doing is arguing about where we should meet and whether we should talk to other people who have the same responsibilities as we have. I am all for the proposition that if somebody wants to meet us in a joint meeting and talk about this matter we should do so. When we do get together and talk I will put forward my views as to where the new and permanent parliament house ought to be and how quickly it ought to be started. I agree with everything contained in Senator Murphy's motion. I certainly agree with paragraph (c). I believe that planning of the new parliament house should commence immediately.

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