Members of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy have condemned the fire that started at Old Parliament House on Thursday (30 December) which caused extensive damage to its front façade and burnt during a protest at the site.
The fire started at the heritage building around noon, with an eyewitness telling the RiotACT the flames had destroyed the front doors and the canopy above it.
A statement from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy shared on social media says the embassy 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 public and private property,” the statement reads.
“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.”
ACT Policing has said it will launch an investigation into the cause of the fire, which caused extensive damage to the building’s front façade.
They said protestors had been at the front of the building for more than a week and the morning began with a traditional smoking ceremony.
“The fire travelled to the front façade of the building and the building was evacuated before ACT Fire and Rescue extinguished the blaze,” police said.
“Although there were no injuries that resulted from the blaze there was extensive water damage to the interior of Old Parliament House.”
Speaking on Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was “disgusted and appalled” by the behaviour that saw people set fire to “such a symbol of democracy in this country”.
“I think it’s disgraceful, and I think that the authorities should act swiftly and in accordance with the law and people should face the consequences for their actions,” he said.