13 September 2022

Strut your political stuff and be crowned a Question Time trivia god at Old Parliament House

| Claire Fenwicke
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US General Douglas MacArthur

US General Douglas MacArthur (centre in light-coloured uniform) has dinner in the Members’ Dining Room, seated between ALP deputy leader Frank Forde and prime minister John Curtin on 26 March, 1942. Photo: Courtesy of Joy Hoffman, Museum of Australian Democracy Collection.

Think your political nous is a cut above the rest? Prove it at this Question Time with a difference at Old Parliament House.

The Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD) will throw open the doors to the Members Dining Rooms, a space once exclusively for parliamentarians and international dignitaries, giving participants a chance to prove their political knowledge in this historical space.

Hosting the event is Canberra comedian Emma Holland, who’s been part of Have You Been Paying Attention? and The Cheap Seats.

“I think Canberra gets a bit of a bad wrap as being boring, but the amount of effort put into events such as this shows just how interesting Canberra really is,” she says.

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While she describes her political knowledge as “so good” (read: sarcasm), she’s excited to see just what will be revealed about our political past in the Capital.

“You never know what’s going to turn up; I think finding out the answers will be a surprise for me as well,” Emma says.

You’ll need to know your Hawkes from your Howards and your bonking bans from your sports rorts, so get studying.

“I’ve specifically requested a lot more information about the bonking bans,” Emma jokes.

“That’s more for my own personal journey though.”

She’ll be joined by ‘The Oracle’, Campbell Rhodes, a researcher at MoAD since 2012.

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Mr Rhodes will be the final judgement for any contested answers, but says while he’ll be the fact checker, don’t expect him to know everything.

“Even I was surprised by some of the answers when I saw them, I even got some of them wrong,” he says.

“Especially some of the more recent events, there are some that I may have missed … whereas the historical ones are more established as fact.”

Mr Rhodes encourages everyone to brush up on their Australian history, politics and Parliament procedures, as the questions merge and blend all three aspects throughout the night.

He’s also looking forward to spirited debates over the answers to some of the questions.

“It certainly would be within the spirit of a trivia night to have a bit of a challenge over the answers, but it won’t just be my word of it, they’re based off of sources,” Mr Rhodes says.

“There are a few that people will swear they have right, but you may have misremembered, that happened to me as I was going through the questions.”

Hosting the trivia night in the Members Dining Rooms, an area that played a key role in hosting casual gatherings, social events, royal visits, official state receptions and formal dinners for important guests, all adds to the historical atmosphere of the questions.

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Mr Rhodes says the night’s not only about a bit of fun and showing off your knowledge, but also learning about how our democracy functions.

“That’s actually really important, so while it’s a bit of fun the more serious side is we want people to be a bit more educated and have more of an understanding about the way things work and why they work that way,” he says.

“So hopefully you’ll learn something as well.”

Question Time Trivia will be held Friday, 23 September, with doors opening at 5 pm. There you can register and grab some drinks from the cash bar before the main event at 6 pm.

The event is for those aged 18 and over, with entry via Queen Victoria Terrace. You can secure a table by booking eight tickets, or grab an individual ticket to join a table and make some new friends.

“Honestly, I’ll just join whatever table makes eye contact with me first,” Emma says.

Gary Punch MP and senator John Stone

Gary Punch MP and senator John Stone enjoy a meal in the Members’ Dining Room in 1988. Photo: Robert McFarlane, Department of the House of Representatives, Museum of Australian Democracy Collection.

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A good fun night. It was popular and totally sold out. I hope there are more events like this!

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