The West

$11.5m fix  to get  House in order
Falling apart: Parliament House. Picture: Elise Wallbank

Parliament House has a roof that leaks, a floor that sags, deteriorating century-old stonework and wooden sash windows that are held together with putty and paper.

The seat of West Australian democracy needs an estimated $11.5 million of structural maintenance and repairs - but the Parliament has had no luck in convincing the Government and Treasury to loosen the purse strings beyond $1 million of annual funding.

"This is a building that's over 100 years old, or at least the 1904 section is, and there are some real issues in terms of its age and heritage," Legislative Council President and Liberal MP Barry House said.

"It's got some heritage issues that have to be addressed at some stage - and at some stage soon.

"There hasn't been a lot of money spent on Parliament House in recent years, and as one of the State's most important institutions, it requires attention."

Acting executive manager of Parliamentary Services Rob Hunter told an Upper House committee there were $11.5 million of outstanding, unfunded capital works, including a roof that sagged and leaked, deterioration of the courtyard and stonework, and air-conditioning upgrades.

"We have timber sashes from the eastern facade going up to the library. Currently, paper is stuffed in there . . . and it has been puttied up. Some of our best windows are just a very thin veneer of paint," Mr Hunter said.

"We know what the building condition report is telling us."

Mr House admitted the public usually treated requests for spending on Parliament with suspicion but called for a "mature, responsible" look at the issue.

Seventy per cent of MPs share offices that have not been refurbished in 15 years.

"The original part of the building was built in 1904 and the eastern extension in 1964," Mr House said.

"Things have moved on a lot from those days and the current facilities at Parliament are inadequate."

The ultimate solution was a new building to house parliamentary staff, probably on the site of the MPs' carpark immediately south of Parliament House.

Mr House acknowledged getting that approved - an estimate four years ago put its cost at $70 million - would be tough.

The West Australian

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