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Thursday, 15 November 1973
Page: 1866


Senator POYSER (Victoria) - I wish to support the amendment submitted by Senator Byrne. It is most unusual for us to be on the one side on a major issue, and this is a major issue of the Parliament. We are having the old red herrings drawn right across the trail by those who say that it is the Senate versus the House of Representatives. It has nothing to do with that at all. If indeed this issue were the Senate versus the House of Representatives we would be defeated anyway. I understand that this is a simple situation where every senator can vote as an individual, not representative of a party, not a representative even of a group that may get together on this kind of issue. We are simply seeking a consensus of all members of the Parliament by virtue of their meeting together as a group. What is so terrible about that? We do it in the dining room every evening where we discuss there things over a meal. We are seeking some formal type of decision by the groups of members of Parliament sitting together as individual members of Parliament, not the Senate versus the House of Representatives. No great constitutional crisis will come out of such a meeting. The Senate carried this very type of motion previously. We sent it as a message to the House of Representatives and it duly stayed at the bottom of the notice paper for the whole of the period until it was taken from the notice paper. The Government of the day did not allow that matter to be discussed in that House. We must realise that exactly the same thing can happen to a private member's Bill that may be passed by the Senate. I believe that a quick decision by all members of Parliament will influence the Executive far more quickly than a Bill which is passed in this Parliament.

I have examined the proposed legislation that Senator Wright wishes to submit. I would want to amend it so that Capital Hill was the site chosen. I make no secret of my views in that regard. But I do not think that that Bill is adequate to meet the situation. I think the only way in which we will get a new and permanent parliament house is by the Government of the day introducing legislation so that it is part of the Government's business and is dealt with in that manner. I do not think the matter will be resolved by means of a private member's Bill, whether it is introduced by Senator Wright, by me, or by anyone else.


Senator Wright - Let the Government introduce a Bill.


Senator POYSER -I would be happy if it would. I believe that we have to give a very clear lead in indicating where we want the new parliament house, because I can recall that on the last occasion this matter was discussed there were 3 possible sites, namely, the lakeside site, Camp Hill and Capital Hill. I am firmly of the opinion that the lakeside proposal was stymied for all time as a result of a question I asked of the then Minister for the Interior about the foundations of the Treasury building. It was discovered from the answer supplied by the Minister for the Interior that an extra $250,000 would have to be found if the building were put on the lakeside site. Senator Wright would know something of this matter because I think he was Minister for Works at the time. If he was not Minister, it must have been his immediate predecessor. The limestone caves had to be filled with concrete for weeks and weeks to get an adequate foundation for the Treasury building. The very day that my question was answered in this Parliament was the day on which the Minister made the announcement that Parliament House would not be built on the lakeside site because of these problems.

That was 4 years ago. We started to argue about the site. At that time the Senate made a request that the 2 Houses of the Parliament should have a joint meeting. The House of Representatives has made a similiar request on this occasion. There may be some technical difficulties constitutionally in resolving the motion that has come before us. I spoke in support of that motion. I now speak in support of

Senator Byrne'samendment because I think it eliminates the qualms that honourable senators may have had in relation to the constitutional position. I urge honourable senators to vote for this amendment so that we can get a quick decision and so that we are not faced with having a Bill on the notice paper this year, next year, some time or never in relation to it. Our speedy resolution of the matter will give a guide to the Executive. To make a decision now is the quickest method by which to get something done. I repeat none of us or not many of us want this decision made quickly for reasons of our own comfort. Very few of us will be in this Senate chamber when the building is finally erected. We want a quick decision for posterity. Let us do something soon, otherwise when my grandson is listening to the Senate debates in years to come he will hear the same arguments put forward. I hope that honourable senators will vote for this amendment so that we can get some satisfactory decision which will be a guide to the Executive of this Parliament.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The question is: 'That the words proposed to be left out of Senator Prowse 's amendment (Senator O 'Byrne's amendment) be left out'.

Question resolved in the negative.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The question now is: 'That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Prowse 's amendment) be inserted '.


Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - Am I in order in moving an amendment to that amendment? The question before the Chair is in relation to the substantive part of Senator Prowse 's amendment, and I wish to move an amendment to it.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I am advised that if the honourable senator wishes to speak he will have to seek leave.


Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - No, I do not want to speak; I want to move an amendment.


Senator Wright - I rise on a point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President. I suggest that the position is that on the first amendment that was put the words that came from the House of Representatives have been left out. Senator Byrne moved, for the purpose of inserting certain words that he wanted in, that Senator Prowse 's words be left out. That amendment was negatived. The motion now before the Chair is that Senator Prowse 's words be inserted. I submit that it is permissible for any honourable senator to move an amendment in relation to part of those words. As I understand it, Senator Sir

Kenneth Anderson wishes to propose an amendment to Senator Prowse 's amendment. His amendment is to leave out the words 'Capital Hill' and insert in their place the words 'Camp Hill'. I submit that that is quite admissible and it is open to any honourable senator to do that. I submit that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, having risen, is in order in putting that amendment.


Senator Poyser - In speaking to the point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President, I seek clarification as to what has happened to Senator Byrne's amendment.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- It was defeated.


Senator Poyser - I called for a division.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- One senator cannot ask for a division. The Standing Orders are clear in stating that 'senators' may call for a division. It requires more than one senator.


Senator Byrne - There were a number of calls.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- No division was called for.


Senator Byrne - I submit that the matter should be recommitted. There was complete confusion and I submit that the matter should be recommitted.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT-

Order! The Chair was not confused.


Senator Poyser - As a matter of courtesy, Mr Acting Deputy President, can the vote be recommitted so that there is clarification?

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- No.

Senator Sir KennethAnderson, although the Senate has decided not to leave out those words, you are entitled to move an amendment to the words that are to be inserted.


Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President.


Senator Byrne - I rise on a point of order. Do I take it now that a final decision of the Chair in relation to the vote of the Senate is that the amendment I moved was put and defeated on the voices?

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Yes, and there was no call for a division.


Senator Poyser - There were 3 calls for a division.


Senator Byrne - I am sure there were calls for a division. I suggest in the circumstances that the matter should be recommitted. There has been confusion and I think the motion should be recommitted.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- You can do that only by leave.


Senator Byrne - Then I ask for the leave of the Senate to have the matter recommitted.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The

Chair is not confused. There was no division called for. The amendment was defeated on the voices.


Senator Byrne - Mr Acting Deputy President,I accept your ruling. But I am asking now for the leave of the Senate to recommit the motion because in the opinion of some honourable senators there was confusion. That is a matter for the Senate to decide.







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