Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Australian Prime Minister John Howard announced on Tuesday that Old Parliament House in Canberra has been heritage listed. It is the 31st entry on the National Heritage List.
The listing acknowledges the role the building has in shaping Australia’s culture and protects it from being modified in any way which could affect its historic value.
Old Parliament House served as the home of Australia’s parliament from 1927 until 1988, when it was relocated to the present parliament house. From 1901-1927, parliament met in Melbourne in the Victorian Parliament House (the state parliament was relocated for 26 years). Before being known as Old Parliament House, the building was known as Provisional Parliament House – as it was intended to be used for 50 years before a permanent building could be built.
In the 61 years the building was used as the seat of parliament, the government changed only seven times, and several new political parties were formed (the Liberals, Anti-Communist Labor Party, and the Australian Democrats).
Mr Howard said the building played an important part in Australia’s political history. “Old Parliament House will always be an important part of our political history with its rich collection of original furniture, art and memorabilia helping to illustrate the story of Australia’s political customs and functions,” he said.
According to Mr Howard, the National Heritage List lists sites which have helped shape the country. “The National Heritage List contains places that have played an important role in the development of our nation, such as Captain Cook’s landing place in New South Wales, Port Arthur in Tasmania and the Australian War Memorial in Canberra,” said the Prime Minister.
The building currently houses Australia’s National Portrait Gallery, and serves as a venue for receptions and exhbitions.