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Thursday, 22 November 1973
Page: 2080

Senator POYSER (Victoria) -I also wish to express my support for giving this Bill a second reading despite the fact that I was one who strongly supported the joint meeting of the members of both Houses of Parliament to resolve the issue of the site of the new and permanent parliament house. I support this Bill because it is a positive move that can be taken and perhaps the result will be a commencement on the new and permanent parliament house. I hope that if the Senate carries this Bill in an amended form its fate will not be to lie at the bottom of the notice paper in another place. I think it is high time that, at some stage, a government took the action which is vital to ensure that within another 10 or 12 years a parliament house of which we can be proud, which is roomy enough for the activities of Parliament and which- in my opinion this is even more important- has the facilities for the big staff which is required to operate a Parliament of this nature, becomes a reality.

For instance, if one goes into the Library, particularly into the research section, and one sees the lack of facilities under which these excellent officers are working, this in itself should be an impetus for any parliament and for any government to decide to rectify those problems which we have in this building. It has always been amazing to me that our staff in the Library has been able to act so competently and efficiently in the circumstances under which it operates. These remarks apply equally to other sections of Parliament, particularly the Ministers. Some of the suites which the Ministers have- I think it is exaggerating to call them suites- are not suitable for the duties and the work which the staff has to carry out. For instance, in Senator Cavanagh 's office at the present time 3 people are working in an area which might be sufficient for one person to comfortably carry out his duty. This is an intolerable situation in which Ministers, irrespective of which government is in office, have to continue to work for the next 10 years. But it is obvious that if we start now it will be 10 years before we see a new and permanent parliament house. I again express my misgivings at suggestions that we should have a staged program. I think that if we have a staged program we will be in the situation of stage I, stage II in SO years time and stage III may never occur.

Senator Withers - Like this place.

Senator POYSER - Like this place, as the honourable senator says. Indeed, this happened in his own city of Perth. In the city of Melbourne after 81 years stage II of Parliament House is being commenced this year. So I think that any suggestion of stages should be rejected out of hand. We should grasp the nettle and proceed as quickly as possible, perhaps even to the extent of not going through the exercise, as we did in 1914 and 1916, of having design competitions. I believe that that could be a waste of time when there are competent architects in this country who, I believe, could adequately design a parliament house which would be suitable for us. In total the previous competitions took 4 years and the entries were never judged. The undertakings which were given to the people who entered the competitions were repudiated as honourable senators can see from the evidence taken by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Public Works in 1923 about a new and permanent parliament house. So I commend the Bill as it may be amended. I understand that other honourable senators may have some ideas about certain clauses which may need looking at. But the principle is right, the time is right and I hope that the Bill is carried through the second reading stage.

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