Canberra's elevated seat of power
Canberra’s Elevated seat of Power
Australian Parliament House
Also known as New Parliament House work started on this Italian design in 1981 and the vast building and sprawling grounds were opened by the Queen in 1988 at a cost of $70 per Australian capita. There are two ‘houses’ the Senate and Representatives, one is blue and the other red and apart from that over 4000 additional rooms are required to run the country.
The views from the roof are spectacular because the building was located in an elevated position to dominate the city, contrary to the original intention with the first city designers, Mr and Mrs Burley Griffin that it should be on the same level as the people to symbolise the ethos of democracy. Parliament Hill was one corner of the Griffin’s civic triangle straddling the lake named after them. On the other two corners are the City where we were staying and on the third what the Griffins planned to be a casino but is now the War Memorial.
Inside beyond the marble entrance hall and upstairs, huge portraits of past prime ministers hang high on the walls like religious effigies and by contrast our Queen in her long robes wandered amongst the outside tables of the restaurant, which were empty at the time as it was nodding on 42’.
There was space given to aspects of the government’s relationship with the indigenous people in the form of the 2008 Apology, the claim to land rights of the Yirrkala People of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory to prevent mining on their land and create a protected area and the Barunga Statement, also from the Northern Territory. This request for a Treaty to restore their rights to self-governance and a lot more as you can see in the photo is now 31 years old and nothing was done about it until last June when the NT government signed the agreement which commits both sides to a three year process which will enable the negotiation of a NT treaty. If successful this will set a precedent on which other Aboriginal land councils can claim back their rights and integrity on a federal level. But it takes so long to reverse the wrongs. There are now only two of the original artists left so it is vital that their future generations continue the protracted fight. Words can be written quickly and are cheap, legal rights and new laws take soo long!
On our way back across the lake the Captain Cook’s hydraulic jet fountain was shooting water 152 metres into the air at a speed of 260kms per hour. Just looking at it cooled me down for our next stop at the Regatta Point Visitor Centre.