The Peoples’ House

Federal Parliament, 17 August 2017

Through the paint-stripping wind walked The Varnished Culture, shoulders collectively set and teeth gritted. Up the hill went we from the National Portrait Gallery, past the tent city (which looked uncomfortable, brother) and the old Parliament House, looking clean, white and reassuringly, democratically modest in size and scope.


View from Parliament hill, looking down at the old Parliament House and beyond, to Anzac Avenue and the War Memorial in the distance

Now the old place is a museum displaying certain politicos as they were in their prime (no animatronics); one feels regret at losing the core use of the building, as the relatively small capacity would perforce limit the number of elected representatives and their retinues.


When elected representatives were less remote


The old steps where they delivered the eulogy for the Whitlam Government (December 1972 to November 1975)

We reached the big house on top of the hill, went through airport-type security, remarking that the working press had to endure this as well.  After sampling a horrendous school band in the Great Hall, we proceeded to the House of Representatives, where it was business as usual, i.e., the business of the nation was discarded in favour of invective, stunts, witty barbs posing as points of order, pointless divisions and random rubbish.  An intern rushed in and informed us that Senator Hanson had appeared across the way in the Senate Chamber, dressed in a burqa. Such is the level of debate on a serious issue.


The 101 metre high flag mast

Australia is in trouble. Apart from several members possibly standing in breach of s. 44 of the Constitution, there doesn’t seem to be anyone about who knows, or cares, about the nation’s malaise.

Tom Roberts, Opening of the Australian Parliament, 9 May 1901 (nowhere near Canberra then)

Tom Roberts, Opening of the Australian Parliament, 9 May 1901 (nowhere near Canberra then)

Which is why The Varnished Culture is all for Democracy….ancient Greek-style democracy, that is.


Not so enlightened…(image by Events ACT)


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