A new building for Parliament?

Stuff reports:

The Government is set to sign off on a major revamp of the parliamentary precinct, including the option of a new office block to house MPs and staff.

Parliamentary Service confirmed it has been reviewing ’s accommodation options, with the lease due to expire in 2018 on the 22-storey Bowen House on the corner of Bowen St and Lambton Quay.

A spokeswoman said Cabinet has asked the service to investigate “a number of options” and report back by the end of this year.

But Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee has been sounding out other parties on their preferences with a proposal expected to be put to Cabinet for approval in November.

Although no final price tag has been put on the plan, the new purpose-built block is considered the most cost-effective.

It is understood Opposition parties are keen on the option, but the Government is concerned at a possible public backlash.

In the 1990s a proposal to put the Beehive on wheels and move it to the site of the planned new building, to allow Parliament Buildings to be completed with an East wing in line with its original 1911 plans, was scuppered after a public outcry at the cost.

ACT lead the campaign against it, calling it The Parliamentary Palace. I worked in the PMs Office at the time and realised the proposal was doomed when at a staff meeting, even we were internally referring to it as the Palace. Once the name stuck, it was all over.

My preference was the next proposal which was to move the Beehive and extend Parliament House to its original design of a symmetrical building.

The land cleared for that, by the demolition of Broadcasting House on Museum St, is now a public park and would likely not be touched by the latest plan.

Other options are to extend the lease on Bowen House or move into a refurbished Bowen State building on Bowen Street – which is much further way from the main complex.

The $5m a year price tag on Bowen House, leased by Parliament since 1991, is considered too expensive to continue long term.

Bowne House is expensive but the politics sadly tend to be that it is more acceptable to pay a lease than to build.

The nondescript Beehive annex, housing the press gallery, which has an earthquake prone “yellow sticker”, could be demolished and rebuilt potentially for those ministers who cannot fit into the Beehive – and are currently housed in Bowen House.

In that case the press gallery would likely be returned to offices adjacent to the debating chamber that it occupied before Parliament building was refurbished and earthquake-strengthened in the early1990s.

That would guarantee favourable media coverage of the proposal! The gallery oldtimers hate that they lost their premier location.


Although no final price tag has been put on the plan, the new purpose-built block is considered the most cost-effective.

Having been through this once, that doesn’t mean it won’t be attacked.

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