1 January 2022

AFP leads task force into Old Parliament House fire

| Sally Hopman
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Old Parliament House fire

The extent of fire damage to Old Parliament House – and possible repairs – are still being assessed. Photo: Supplied.

The Australian Federal Police will lead a task force with ACT Policing to identify the protesters responsible for the fire that damaged the front facade of the National Heritage-listed Old Parliament House on Thursday (30 December).

Taskforce Pike will include members from the AFP’s Special Investigations Command and detectives from ACT Policing. It will use the AFP’s world-leading forensics and technological capability to identify those responsible for damaging Commonwealth property, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years’ imprisonment.

Police said protesters had been at the building for more than a week and the morning began with a traditional smoking ceremony.

The fire caused extensive damage to the front doors of the building, which houses the Museum of Australian Democracy (MOAD), and there was also extensive water damage inside. The site was evacuated and no injuries were reported.

Director of MOAD Daryl Karp described the situation as “tragic”.

She said the doors, which date from 1927, were severely damaged, and the portico, which was specifically built for the Queen’s visit in 1954, was burnt out.

“It is unclear whether we can restore the doors or not,” she said. “Obviously they are pretty significant collection items and that’s a big one for us.”

She said further examination of the building was needed to see what else was damaged and what repairs could be undertaken.

READ MORE Fire at Old Parliament House condemned by Aboriginal Tent Embassy

Footage from ACT Policing body cameras and CCTV from Old Parliament House has identified several suspects who will be interviewed by police.

On Thursday, members of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy condemned the fire, saying it did not condone the actions of protesters who occupied the steps of Old Parliament House that day.

“Although we support the concept of non-violent direct action, we do not condone the destruction of private or public property,” embassy representatives said in a statement.

“The actions of such protesters conducting a ‘smoking ceremony’ was done so without the knowledge, consent or mandate of the Embassy Council and Traditional Owners responsible for the regulation of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.”

Several witnesses have already been interviewed by ACT Policing and the task force is expected to speak to more in the coming days.

The AFP said the establishment of the task force, which will build on the investigations started on Friday, underscored the zero-tolerance authorities had for violence, destruction of property and assaulting police.

A police presence at Old Parliament House will be increased over the next few weeks.

People with footage of the incident are urged to contact Crime Stoppers ACT on 1800 333 000.

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Looks like four have been arrested.
Three on Saturday and one on Sunday.


I didn’t see anything on the ABC. Did I miss it or is it just not a story if interest for our national broadcaster?

Now we have to hope our magistrates do their jobs and don’t just give them a slap on the wrist.

They only post it after they saw your comment here.
What a waste of money on all accounts.

However reading the article they are still blaming the police and claiming it was a smoking ceremony. Despite widespread media coverage of other providers showing it was deliberately lit and they were throwing extra fuel on it after the doors were alight.

50 years has been long enough!!!
The police should have the gumption to go in and remove every single eyesore in the so called embassy.
Or the types in the embassy , happy to accept taxpayers dollars but tell us how terrible we are, should have the guts to go up the hill a little and set up a new embassy in front of the real parliament house and its security officers. Oh, wait, they’re gutless, so that won’t happen.

Taskforce pike sounds very Joffrey Baratheon, Game of Thones like.

Like usual they’ll target those that have criminal history and want to set an example which means picking a small number and getting the others with little criminal history to turn against them.

Hopefully they get them on two counts of property damage as there was two attempts to light it up and the first did far less damage.

ACT should put in a fire ban within 500m of OPH.

How is it that an average criminal would be caught straight away where they’re on cctv and seen by multiple eyewitnesses burning any other property (arson typically being something we are a bit opposed to in a country that can burn down from those types of actions), but when it’s Old Parliament House apparently it’s really hard arresting them for what they did….

Didn’t you know that there is a perimeter in the area where laws don’t apply and haven’t for decades?

Preferential treatment

Im pretty sure OPH is not part of the Parliamentary Precinct

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