One of the highlights of my time in Canberra was spending an afternoon in the Australian Parliament, located on Capital Hill in the heart of the Australia’s capital city.
Parliament House is home to both houses of parliament and open to the public every day of the year but Christmas. If you’re interested in the workings of the Australian government, this is a must-see destination.
We timed our visit in Canberra to be on sitting day, so we could observe “Question Time” (the period in which “Parliament scrutinises the work of the government”). This is similar to “Prime Minister’s Questions” each Wednesday in the UK House of Commons.
The Park Hyatt Canberra set up our tickets, but you can get them yourself by calling +61 02 6277 4889 as late as 12:30p on the day of Question Time. The session typically begins at 2pm. More details here.
While no photos were permitted inside the gallery, I sat transfixed for 90 minutes as we watched Australian politicians debate the issues of the day. Discussion topics included refugees, debt, environmental policy, China, and government debt.
This was on June 05 2013, during Julia Gillard’s waning days as Prime Minster. Interestingly, she was not only attacked by opposition leader Tony Abbot, but also by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of her own party, who only weeks later would challenge her leadership, leading to the toppling of the government.
The most amusing part of the Question Time was the hissing and booing that characterize Commonwealth parliamentary systems. At one point, then-Speaker Anna Burke became so annoyed she threw out a member of Parliament. It was great entertainment.
There’s more to Parliament House then just Question Time. Docent-led tours offer an in-depth look at the inner-working of the Australian government and civil service. Historical artifacts and artwork are also on the display.
View of Capital Hill from the Australian War Memorial
If you’re a political junkie like me, Canberra is a great city to visit. I truly enjoyed my day in parliament.