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Tuesday, 10 December 1974
Page: 3267

Senator WITHERS (Western AustraliaLeader of the Opposition) - I shall be very brief. Honourable senators will know that the last time the Bill was before us, as it came from the House of Representatives, I moved certain amendments which Senator Wright had had included in his Bill of the previous session. Those amendments were duly carried, I think by a fairly large majority in the Senate. When that Bill, as amended, went down to the House of Representatives I think it is fair to say that Mr Powell of the National Capital Development Commission saw me and pointed out that the wording of the amendments was not as good as it ought to have been. The first amendment, as I recall those moved by Senator Poyser, is a more accurate description of the parliamentary triangle. The previous description referred to a line running down Kings Avenue and also points A and B. The amendment was purely a drafting amendment and I think an enormous improvement on the Bill.

The second major amendment is to clause 5. In the original Bill clause 5 stated that no building or other work should be erected within the parliamentary zone without the approval of Parliament. It is all very well to have the clause in those terms but it was not of sufficient standard really to carry out the purpose. Honourable senators will note that the proposed new clause states that no building or other work is to be erected on land within the parliamentary zone unless the Minister has caused a proposal for the erection of the building or the work to be laid before each House of Parliament and the proposal has been approved by a resolution of each House. The amendment is far tidier than the original clause. Sub-clause (2) and sub-clause (3) are quite necessary. Sub-clause (2 ) states:

Sub-section (1 ) does not prevent the carrying out of work by way of maintenance or repair-

I do not think anybody would expect approval to be obtained for that from Parliament. The clause also does not prevent the carrying out of work by way of internal alterations. I do not think the Parliament is concerned whether over in the Treasury building or in East Block or West Block internal walls are knocked down or partitions are erected. Sub-clause (3) states:

Sub-section (3) does not apply to buildings and works which have reached the documentation stage by 1 December 1974.

As honourable senators know, at the moment foundations and all sorts of things have been started on the High Court building. It would be rather ridiculous where tenders have been let and contracts started for the Parliament to go through the process.

Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - They might be inconsistent with the other one.

Senator WITHERS -The Parliamentary Counsel and the NCDC assure me this amendment will get them out of their problems and that it will allow the High Court and the associated works for which contracts have been let and which are in being to be proceeded with but in future any other proposal will have to come back to the Parliament. As I said I spent some time with Mr Powell, the Commissioner of the NCDC. Administratively the NCDC can live with these proposals, and at the same time all the rights of Parliament are protected. My recommendation to the Committee is that it ought to accept the amendments as put down by Mr Uren. In fact, they were drafted in conjunction with Mr Powell and me.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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