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Thursday, 24 October 1974
Page: 1995

Senator BUTTON (Victoria) - I am grateful to the Chair for the guidance on this matter. I have an amendment to clause 3 which reads:

The new and permanent Parliament house and buildings and works associated therewith proposed to bc constructed after the commencement of this Act shall be constructed upon Capital Hill.

The amendment I wish to move relates only to that clause. I move:

In clause 3 delete 'Capital Hill' and insert 'Camp Hill'.

I do not seek to amend clause 4 of the Bill.

Senator Devitt - That is clause 4.

Senator BUTTON -No, I am looking at clause 3. 1 do not seek to amend clause 4 because I adopt the view- which I believe to be the correct view- that if my amendment were to be acceded to, no buildings should be erected on Capital Hill. I do not wish to advance any further arguments in relation to clause 3 other than those which were advanced by various members of the Senate in the debate on the second reading. I simply say that for aesthetic grounds, practical reasons and reasons which vitally concern this building in its relationship with any future parliament which is to be built the site should be Camp Hill. The words 'Capital Hill' should accordingly be deleted for the reasons advanced in the course of the second reading debate.

Senator Sir MAGNUSCORMACK (Victoria) ( 10.5)- I think that honourable senators at least should be informed of some matters that have come to my knowledge in the last 6 months. Senator Button has treated us to a series of arguments which give his reasons why Camp Hill should be selected as a site for a new and permanent Parliament House. He based his arguments upon aesthetic reasons. I merely put this point of view because it is inherent in the plan which was circulated last year by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren) that this House should be demolished in order to provide a parliament sited on Camp Hill.

Last year 2 gentlemen from abroad called upon me and I entertained them in a suitable way, I hope. They turned out to be architects of world fame. One happened to be an architect appointed by the late President J. F. Kennedy to supervise rebuilding, as necessary, in Washington. The second gentleman was an architect appointed by ex-President Nixon in a similar role. In other words, they were on a panel of architects in Washington. These 2 men represented an era of rebuilding in Washington. The object of their call was, firstly, a courtesy one. But in the course of conversation both of them- separately and together- put the point of view that notwithstanding anything that may be said by architects in Australia, or certainly by those who are not architects and who regard this as a pretty glum looking Parliament House, they thought the reverse of that. They said that they thought of all the parliamentary buildings that they knew of in the world that had grace, dignity and quality there was none that exceeded this Parliament House. They thought therefore, that it would be an act of vandalism if any Parliament were to consent to the destruction of this Parliament House.

Senator Marriott - What about the plastic buckets?

Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK -In answer to Senator Marriott, I point out that any change in the structure of this Parliament necessitated putting up scaffolding and high beams before one could put a sledgehammer into one wall. It was built, as Senator Button remarked earlier- and as we are all aware- as a temporary Parliament House and not a permanent one. But the interesting observation is that these were men who had been called in by UNESCO to look at and help other countries. On their swing back to the United States they called into Australia. They spent a week here in Canberra. They admired Canberra as a city and thought it was one of the best planned cities they had ever seen in the world. But they repeated before they left never allow this Parliament which you occupy to be pulled down'. I said that it was a jerry-built building. The reply was: 'So was the White House in Washington'. I merely introduced that note to indicate to honourable senators that if they are making any decisions which relate to a new and permanent Parliament House they should remember that at least 2 very distinguished architects of world renown have said that it would be an act of vandalism to pull down this Parliament House.

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