Australian Parliament(s)

Canberra is home to not one, but two Australian parliaments. For 61 years Australia had a provisional parliament, built to house 300 people. By the time the new, permanent, parliament was opened in 1988 there were 3,000 people working in the old building, which even with multiple extensions was short of space.dsc02776The new Parliament is built into the hill above the old Parliament, perfectly aligned on the land axis running from Mount Ainslie to Red Hill. For a 4,700 room 80 acre complex it is surprisingly modest on the landscape, built into the hillside.

dsc02195 dsc02187 dsc02219 dsc02214It is also surprisingly open, or at least compared to the British Parliament in Westminster or Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, feeling much more like a true public space, than a carefully guarded fortress, only accessible on tours.

The lobby is a forest of marble columns, leading into the Great Hall, home to the second largest tapestry in the world replicating a painting by famous Australian artist Arthur Boyd, found on the balcony.dsc02323 dsc02450 dsc02332 dsc02328 dsc02333

There is a terrace area at the front of the building, home to a stature of Queen Elizabeth II, and some lovely views of the land axis through to Mount Ainslie.

The centre of the building is home to a sizeable atrium, above which is a monumentally large flag pole.dsc02389 dsc02387dsc02419

Off from the atrium are the House of Representatives (green like Westminster) and Senate (red, also like Westminster).dsc02377 dsc02374 dsc02367 dsc02399 dsc02402

The old Parliament is now the Museum of Australian Democracy. It is packed with interesting exhibitions covering every aspect of democracy in Australia. Rather than Queen Elizabeth II there is a statue of King George V in the lobby area.dsc02866 dsc02197 dsc02224 dsc02819 dsc02820 dsc02821 dsc02818

Off the lobby lie some familiar green and red rooms.dsc02863 dsc02860 dsc02849

The Prime Minister’s office was a reasonably smart corner office, laid out so that the PM had their back to (non-bullet proof) windows.dsc02836-pms-officeIn front of the old Parliament is the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, a semi-permanent assemblage claiming to represent the political rights of Aboriginal Australians.dsc02257

Author: jontycrane

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