I’ve been interested in politics since school days. In fact at one stage I considered going into politics. Thankfully it didn’t eventuate. When I was about 18 I visited the NSW Parlimemt and had lunch with my then local member, Matt Singleton.
When I had the Chauffeur Car Business I drove a few politicians around at various times. Some were personable and friendly whilst others were arrogant. Anyways, I was really looking forward to sitting in the gallery in Canberra. Of course with Covid things are a lot different and you have to book in and only allowed a short time there.
The tour I booked on was the Question Time Tour and it went for one and a half hours. 1.30 to 3pm. There was a group of 20. Most were young females from a Government Department and only about 6 of us were tourists. Michael was our guide, he was Danish, been working at Parlimemt House for 11 years, had a thick accent and was a bit of a character. We had a bit of a history lesson and learnt interesting facts like there are 4,500 rooms at the new Parlimemt House and it took 7 years to build at a then cost of $1.1b. We were escorted around the building and then we had about 10 minutes sitting in the gallery of the Senate and about 25 minutes in the House of Representatives. Both were during Question Time.
I enjoyed both sessions, probably more so the House of Representatives but in both situations it is a bit of a rabble. When Labor asks a question the Liberal minister skirts around evading the question and then when a Liberal asks a question it is a set up and they do a bit of back slapping. Interjecting is constant. Now it doesn’t matter which party is in Government, the same thing happens.
Before I did the tour I had lunch in the cafe and as I was leaving Senator Jackie Lambie came in with 3 guests. She was the only member I saw apart from in the chambers. We are lucky that we live in such a democracy that we can see our leaders “in action”. I am sure that doesn’t happen in every country. There was no cost involved in the tour but you did have to prebook. You can do a self guided tour of certain parts but not the chambers.
Unfortunately we had to surrender our cameras before we went into each house so I can’t give you pictures but I am sure you have all seen inside the chambers on TV.
If you are ever in our National Capital then I think it is a must do for the experience. I walked to and from Parlimemt from Civic. Walking up along the footpath from the Old Parlimemt to the New gives you a sense of how big “the lawn” area really is. To be honest the building doesn’t look all that impressive from the outside but it is opulent and striking once you get inside. There was a protest group on the lawn area. Not sure what they were protesting but they were certainly exercising their democratic right.