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Architectural vandalism at Parliament House

By Paul Costigan - 4 January 2017 7

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They have tried before and have failed–but this time they have got their way.

The Australian Parliament House was designed with the lawns on the roof. The architect wanted to remind the politicians of their place in society by allowing people to walk across the roof of Parliament House.

I have proudly explained this to many visitors to Canberra. Overseas delegations have laughed and have congratulated us on having this as the philosophy behind the architecture of our national parliament.

But the security experts were not happy. Several years ago, with the architect’s approval they introduced a ha-ha or two across the slopes to stop those evil people who they expect one day to drive up there.

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Earlier this year Romaldo Giurgola died knowing his fantastic piece of architect was basically in good shape.

But they could not wait. In December the ‘security experts’ have at last had their way and have convinced our politicians that the lawns across the top of Parliament should be off limits.

Bloody hell – how did we come to this!

Our politicians should be ashamed of themselves–and yes I am looking at all of them–including our locals Katy Gallagher, Andrew Leigh and all the others. They all voted this through the Parliament under the pretence that somehow this made the place more secure. What a joke!

This building is one of the few remarkable architectural gems in the national capital – and is admired throughout the world. To think that our politicians now consider it good that the image of our national parliament is to be one where a steel fence is one of its key features.

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All around the world voters have been coming to the conclusion that our politicians are becoming even more remote to the issues of their electorates. They are seen as living in a world of privilege in which they are paying less and less attention to those who vote them in. People are looking for any sign that this may not be so.

However I suggest that our federal politicians have just sent a message to all of us. Up there on the hill they do not welcome your attention and even more they have not appreciated the architecture of the building that allowed any of us mere mortals to think you could be above them – even for a moment.

So bring on that steel fence!

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I wish more people could understand this insult to the architect, the wonderful Romaldo Giurgola, and to all of us.

Was there no-one in the government and the opposition who could stop this act of vandalism and understand that this action is an insult to the culture of Australia and our famous laid-back way of life?

Could they not see that this is a very public announcement that terrorism is winning – as they have just changed the public face of Australia’s democracy?

Yes – I am not happy about this stupid decision.

I hope there are a few more people out there who share this view.

Update 4 January 2017 – comment from Department of Parliamentary Services 

The Department of Parliamentary Services has provided the following response regarding security enhancements at Parliament House:

“As previously advised, the public will continue to be able to access a significant amount of the grassed area on the northern side of the building. The ongoing commentary that people will be no longer able to roll down the grass ramps is therefore misleading.

The public has not been able to walk up the grass ramps and right over the top of Parliament House for 11 years since the existing fences were erected on security grounds in 2005. The principal architect for Parliament House, Mr Romaldo Giurgola was directly involved in the design of those fences.

The public will continue to access the roof of this building in precisely the same way – passing through screening and going up to the roof internally via the elevators.

A program for construction of the security fences has not been finalised. Speculation around January 2017 timing is incorrect.

As the Presiding Officers have previously stated, they see it is their responsibility to ensure the safety and security of all Parliament House occupants, including staff, press gallery and the 1 million people (of which 100,000 are school children) who visit Parliament House annually. We take this responsibility extremely seriously.”

What’s Your opinion?


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7 Responses to
Architectural vandalism at Parliament House
1
rommeldog56 10:03 am
04 Jan 17
#

Agree. But what will such a fence look like ? Height ? What will it be built out of ? Some sort of weld mesh or will it be solid ? Presumably it will need to be high enough to prevent people climbing over it and cars/trucks being driven through it. Will we even be able to see Parliament House through it ??

2
dungfungus 11:43 am
04 Jan 17
#

What hasn’t been discussed sufficiently is why do we need a fence in the first place.

3
Holden Caulfield 2:02 pm
04 Jan 17
#

dungfungus said :

What hasn’t been discussed sufficiently is why do we need a fence in the first place.

Yep, that’s all been lost in the rolling on the grass silliness, which anyone who took the time to read what little information there is would know was never going to be taken away. Made more difficult, yes, but not taken away.

For once I am fully behind the OP in his concerns and the term architectural vandalism. This fence, in whatever form it takes, will be a blight on this current Parliament and to steal and repurpose a famous quote, a pox on both their houses.

My guess is the fence will be much like the what has been erected for the ministerial entrance at the back of the building. That’s an appalling aesthetic result and gives me zero confidence that the same mistakes won’t be repeated out the front.

The lack of publicly available information for the reasons leading to this decision and then the plans for the fence should be a national outrage. Alas, it’s not.

The line used for protecting 100,000 school children is a pathetic use of the politics of fear, as well. And the odd bordering-on-loony protesters who pretend to glue themselves to barriers or abseil down the front are never intending to hurt anyone, rather they simply want to bring attention on themselves, oops, I mean their cause, worthy or otherwise.

A poxy fence isn’t going to stop anyone who wants to blow the place up. Let’s get real.

And the unwelcoming message it sends to the public will be a great loss compared with the open and approachable building we have now.

It will be a very sad day when construction of that fence starts.

4
wildturkeycanoe 3:16 pm
04 Jan 17
#

Who would want to blow up parliament house anyway? Terrorists would rather strike Sydney or Melbourne because foreigners don’t even know who or where our capital city is. I would say that the whole idea has been raised by a contractor, then supported by the building maintenance company who then referred it to a minister with the advice of “If we don’t spend the money on something, our next annual budget will be cut!”. Horrified at the prospect of losing money to waste on brunches and Friday arvo drinks with dinner, they scrambled to find a way to boost the amount of cash required for next financial year. Selling it to the public and parliamentary bean counters was easy. Just mention terrorism, job done.

5
dungfungus 4:12 pm
04 Jan 17
#

wildturkeycanoe said :

Who would want to blow up parliament house anyway? Terrorists would rather strike Sydney or Melbourne because foreigners don’t even know who or where our capital city is. I would say that the whole idea has been raised by a contractor, then supported by the building maintenance company who then referred it to a minister with the advice of “If we don’t spend the money on something, our next annual budget will be cut!”. Horrified at the prospect of losing money to waste on brunches and Friday arvo drinks with dinner, they scrambled to find a way to boost the amount of cash required for next financial year. Selling it to the public and parliamentary bean counters was easy. Just mention terrorism, job done.

Most people in Canberra would agree with those comments I feel.

The greatest danger politicians face however is anger from aggrieved electors who have been let down by the government.

We have armed guards ( I hope they have bullets) at Parliament House 24/7 and this should be adequate protection against the “perceived terrorist threat”.

Terrorists are more interested in creating mayhem in places where the ordinary people gather. The response to this type of threat at the Sydney NYE celebrations where streets filled with people were blockaded by trucks and busses was the right way to go.

I would like to see the same done at the forthcoming Canberra Multicultural Festival (or what ever it is called this year).

6
dungfungus 4:22 pm
04 Jan 17
#

Time to channel Bing Crosby:

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above

Don’t fence me in

Let me ride through the wide open country that I love

Don’t fence me in

Let me be by myself in the evenin’ breeze

And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees

Send me off forever but I ask you please

Don’t fence me in

Just turn me loose, let me straddle my old saddle

Underneath the western skies

On my Cayuse, let me wander over yonder

Till I see the mountains rise

I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences

And gaze at the moon till I lose my senses

And I can’t look at hovels and I can’t stand fences

Don’t fence me in

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies

Don’t fence me in

Let me ride through the wide open country that I love

Don’t fence me in

7
Maryan 7:00 pm
10 Jan 17
#

It’s not only an insult to the Architect.
It’s an outrageous insult to the Australian population.
It’s an insult that is being perpetrated on the population of Australia by the politicians that were elected by them.
And it seems we are prepared to wear it with hardly a ripple.

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