The Museum of Australian Democracy is housed in the Old Parliament House building. Whilst Federation commenced in 1901 Parlimemt House was built as a temporary building and opened in 1927. It was “temporary” for 60 years until New Parliament House was opened in 1988.
Even though it was “built to budget” it is still a grand building for its day. When you see inside the rooms where the political staff worked you can see where costs were cut as most are very small and pokey. It was never designed to house all the politicians and their staff.
The lower floor houses a couple of exhibitions one of which is Truth Power and a Free Press Exhibition. I found this really interesting and the walls are adorned with cartoons of the day. You can always count on a newspaper cartoon to sum up the day’s or week’s major news story.
The main floor of course housed the main entry hall, King’s Hall with the House of Representatives Chamber and the Senare Chamber on either side.
The Prime Ministers Suite was the most interesting. A rabbit warren of little offices leading into his office which really wasn’t all that grand. It was set to replicate the era when Bob Hawke was Prime Minister, so how it was when it closed as Parliament House at the start of 1988. Everything is authentic for the era and it pretty much looks how you would expect it would as if they just all got up and left en masse. Even down to the ashtray full of cigarette butts, the rubbish in the waste paper bins, and even Bob Hawkes hair cream. He had the same telephone PABX system that we had in our office in Perth that year. Even the staplers on the desks were the same as the one I had sitting on mine. And the hole punch of course.
I really enjoyed the Democracy Museum. Makes you proud to be an Aussie that everyone really does have the chance to have a say in forming our Governments and that we have such open access to the Government system. Yeah I know, doesn’t seem like it at times but we are in the Lucky Country.