Day of Democracy – 3rd February 2019

Today was put aside to tour the Old Parliament House and the New Parliament House. Having said that, the New Parliament House is now 30 years old and holding its own very well.

It started with breakfast out on the back porch again, with our great view of pool and golf course and not to forget the wonderful bird life around. There are cockatoos, gang gangs, rosellas, King Parots and of course the obligatory maggies.

First port of call. Today was predicted to be 35c so it is a good thing that we were spending most of the time inside.

Fraser’s dad worked in this building off and on during his public servant years and Fraser can remember visiting him here. This Parliament House was opened in 1927 and was only meant to be a provisional building for 300 people for fifty years. After some extensions it housed 3,000 people for 61 years.

The colours for the house of reps and the senate were base on the traditional Westminster colours and were quite dark and rich. Whilst we were doing the tour we went to see the 2018 political cartoon artists gallery and we think even some of our Canadian friends would understand some of these. We will give an explanation though.

One by one, the High Court found various MPs to be dual citizens of countries such as New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom – hence the spare flag poles for any other dual citizen MPs.

This one doesn’t need much explanation. It just shows four of the previous Prime Ministers which the country as gone through very quickly due to internal fighting.

Aussie coat of arms with the Kangaroo and Emu. Many of you will think, “well it is just understandable to use these two animals on the coat of arms as they are exclusive to Australia.” You would be incorrect in that assumption. They were chosen to symbolise a nation moving forward, based on the fact that neither animal can move backwards easily – i.e. symbolising progress.

We bumped into this unlikely of Parliamentarians on his day off who thought he would just pop in for a bit of catchup.

This is the PMs old office which you can see was kitted out in the 1970’s style. The last PM to be in residence here was Bob Hawke. One of his claims to fame, was he was immortalized by the Guinness Book of Records in 1954 for sculling (drinking non-stop) 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds whilst he was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford Uni. He became even more infamous in 1983 for his quote after the historic victory of the yacht Australia II winning the Americas Cup when he said, “Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum”. Fraser remembers as a young boy his dad bringing him into this office and would often come to Paliament House to watch the football as it was on colour TVs.

It was then off to the new Parliament House up on Capital Hill. This was opened in 1988 after running over budget and over time with final ticket price of $1.1 billion which was a huge amount of money back then. The original budget was $220 million – ooops. There was a lot of controversy regarding skulduggery by contractors who would clock on to the site and then disappear off to another job and then clock off from the site at the end of the day.

This photo was taken from the roof of the building looking back towards the War Memorial.

A good model overview of the site. The top of the “mountain” was lopt off and the building erected and then filled back in with the earth. There are a lot of symbolisms built into this newish building which are quite fascinating. Dan Brown could have a field day writing a book about this place and he has lots of fodder to use for his story……….stab..stab..stab..stab..stability🤪

The new house of reps and the senate are in more muted colours and more in line with Australian natural colours. The green as in the eucalyptus trees and the reddy pink as in the red desert and sunsets. The architect took a lot from the Australian landscape and built it into the construction of this great building. It is apparently the largest building in the Southern Hemisphere.

Finally, this is the main entrance lobby into Paliament House. The Marble Foyer features 48 marble columns that evoke the muted pinks and greens of the Australian landscape as well as the colours of the two Parliamentary Chambers. The limestone on the floor is full of fossils of sea life that existed some 345 million years ago. You can see the remains of ancient corals, sponges and crinoids, or ‘sea lilies’. They even pointed out to us “Shawn the Prawn” in one of the pieces of limestone – they just had to Australianise it.

So our poor feet were starting to swell so it was back to Liv and Marks for a quick rest and cuppa and then out for dinner to other friends. We caught up before with Liz and her husband Ian who we met in Melbourne at the tennis and who was working in Player Services. It was great to see these guys again and also their friends Chris and Paul who we had met on a previous visit to Canberra. It was pretty much the night of hilarity as Ian is very delightful and has a wicked sense of humour. He is encouraging Fraser to walk the Pennine Way in Yorkshire in England with him but Fras wants to get him for walks up into the Rockies first and show him our back yard. Watch this space as am pretty sure this is going to happen.

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