8 May 2023 (Updated January 2024)

Dr Dianne Heriot and Politics and Public Administration Section



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Milestones Details Images Tags

Federation to Provisional Parliament House

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1 January 1901

Federation

The colonies of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania join together in a Federal Union, creating the Australian nation. Events begin with a parade from Sydney's Domain, travelling through streets adorned with flags, bunting and elaborate Federation Arches. At its culmination in Centennial Park, over 100,000 spectators watch the proclamation and inauguration ceremony. Governor-General Lord Hopetoun takes his oath of office, and swears in Australia's first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton (Prot, Hunter, NSW), and his ministry.

Days of pomp and pageantry follow, with celebrations held across the continent. The Sydney Morning Herald observes:

… seldom indeed in the world's history have a people entered into full possession of their heritage under circumstances so auspicious and with an outlook so full of dazzling promise … Far removed from the clashing interests of the old world, our people are equipped by a more than usually high average of education, a broader measure of political privilege, and a more generous share of individual freedom and public liberty than those who have preceded us in the race … We have within our borders, in our but partly discovered and exploited natural resources, all the material guarantees for prosperity and greatness. We enter on the new year and the new century a united Australian nation.

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9 May 1901

The First Commonwealth Parliament

His Royal Highness The Duke of Cornwall and York (later George V) opens the first Commonwealth Parliament at Melbourne's Exhibition Building. It is the city's only building big enough to accommodate the 1,400 guests.

The Argus declares the opening ceremonies 'A MAGNIFICENT DEMONSTRATION' and 'A MASTERPIECE OF ORGANISATION':

By the hand of Royalty, in the presence of the greatest concourse of people that Australia has seen in one building, and with splendid pomp and ceremonial, the legislative machinery of the Commonwealth was yesterday set in motion. The day was full of smiles and tears, the smiles predominating. Rising gloomily, the dispersing clouds allowed the bright sun to peep through, and when the great ceremony was in progress in the Exhibition-building the atmosphere was radiant, and illuminated the vast spaces of the building and the great sea of faces with a bright Australian glow.

The Parliament comprises 111 Members (36 Senators and 75 Members of the House of Representatives) elected in polls held in all states on 29 or 30 March 1901. Of the 111 new parliamentarians, 87 have previously served in a colonial parliament, and 14 have been premiers.

Senators and Members take their Oaths of Allegiance before the special joint sitting is adjourned.

The parliamentarians later assemble at Victoria's State Parliament building to elect the Presiding Officers: Richard Baker (FT, SA) is elected President of the Senate and Frederick Holder (FT, Wakefield, SA) is elected Speaker.

Regular parliamentary sessions commence the following day.

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1908–11

Selecting the site for a federal capital

The location of the new federal capital was a contentious issue throughout the 1890s due to intense inter-Colonial rivalries, particularly between NSW and Victoria. A compromise was finally struck and written into the Constitution: the federal capital would be in 'the State of NSW' but 'distant not less than one hundred miles from Sydney'. Years of investigation and debate follow.

At last, after two Royal Commissions, seven governments and three parliaments, the Yass–Queanbeyan district is chosen and is proclaimed under the Seat of Government Act 1908 (Cth).

The NSW Government cedes the 2,280km2 Federal Territory to the Commonwealth effective 1 January 1911.

The Commonwealth quickly begins planning for the new city, with surveyor Charles Scrivener appointed in 1909 to identify the best site for 'a beautiful city … embracing distinctive features … worthy of the object, not only for the present but for all time'.

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30 April 1911

Design competition launched

The Fisher Government announces an international design competition for the Federal Capital City. The design brief requires entrants to 'embody in their Designs all recent developments in the science of town planning'.

In May 1912 the Minister for Home Affairs King O'Malley (ALP, Darwin, Tas) declares Walter Burley Griffin the winner.

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12 March 1913

Naming Canberra

Lady Denman, wife of Governor-General Lord Denman, officially names Canberra at a ceremony on Kurrajong Hill (later Capital Hill).

The Governor-General, Prime Minister Andrew Fisher (ALP, Wide Bay, Qld) and Minister for Home Affairs, King O'Malley (ALP, Darwin, Tas) lay three foundation stones as part of the Commencement Column base, which is never completed.

The stones will be removed from their original location during the building of the new Parliament House, and all but the base courses re-laid in 1988 in the ceremonial Federation Mall in front of the building, in line with the land axis.

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1914–23

A home for the Federal Parliament

On 1 July 1914 the Commonwealth Government launches an international competition for the Parliament House design. Documentation for the competition is prepared with the assistance of Walter Burley Griffin, but due to the outbreak of World War I, the competition is withdrawn. While further attempts are made to revive the competition, it is ultimately abandoned.

Canberra's post-war development remains stalled, as Australia struggles with the war's human and economic costs. However, in August 1923, the Parliament agrees to build a provisional Parliament House, with construction commencing later that month. As the Minister for Works and Railways, Percy Stewart (Nat, Wimmera, Vic) states:

If … in Canberra we are to have the world's most beautiful city … in forty to fifty years' time, the work of building a Parliament House worthy of such a city is too big a job for us to tackle at the present time, and might well be left to posterity.

The three-storey building is designed by Commonwealth architect John Smith Murdoch and is planned around the two chambers. Considered modern for its time, the building is modest and light-filled, with gardens and courtyards for recreation. With the construction workers and materials coming from across Australia, it costs £664,600 plus a further £250,000 for furniture and fittings.

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9 May 1927

The opening of Provisional Parliament House

The Duke of York (later King George VI) opens the new federal Parliament House in Canberra amid 'scenes of epic pageantry'. Over one million people listen via radio broadcast, which features Dame Nellie Melba singing the national anthem. To 'the accompaniment of thunderous cheers', the Duke unlocks the Parliament's doors with a golden key. Prime Minister Stanley Bruce (Nat, Flinders, Vic), declares:

Within these portals will be framed those laws which will mould the destiny of a people. May those who enter this open door govern with justice, reason and equal favour to all. May they do so in humility and without self-interest. May they think and act nationally. May they speak with the voice of those who sent them here – the voice of the people.

Parliamentarians, dignitaries and guests assemble in the Senate where the Duke of York delivered a 'brief but eloquent speech' and a message of goodwill from the King. Further commemorating the occasion is the King's personal gift to Australia: two despatch boxes, replicas of those in the House of Commons.

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Towards a new and permanent Parliament House

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8 April 1970

Report of the Joint Select Committee on the new and permanent Parliament House

The report of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House is tabled in the Parliament.

The Committee was established in December 1965 to inquire into 'certain aspects of a new and permanent Parliament House'. The Committee receives many submissions and undertakes a study tour of overseas parliament buildings. Its final report is a 'comprehensive statement of the Parliament's requirements in a new building', becoming 'the basis of the Brief for the Architectural Design Competition'.

 

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17 December 1974

At last: a site is selected for the permanent Parliament House

The Parliament Act 1974 receives Royal Assent, confirming Capital Hill as the site for the new and permanent Parliament House. The provisional Parliament House was originally intended to have a 50-year lifespan and has 'well and truly exceeded its capacity'.

The choice of site for the new building has proved complex and protracted.

In Burley-Griffin's original city plans, Parliament House was to be at the foot of Camp Hill, with Capital Hill reserved for the Capitol, a building for 'popular assembly and festivity rather than deliberation and counsel'. However, this intention unravelled when Provisional Parliament House was constructed at Camp Hill. Debate continues for many years with Camp Hill, Capital Hill and a lakeside site all having their advocates. By the late 1960s, momentum has gathered for the site to be Capital Hill, in part because of the limited space available on the Camp Hill site.

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5 June 1975

Joint Standing Committee on the New Parliament House

Parliament establishes a Joint Standing Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House as the client for the planning, design and construction of the building.

The Committee recommends an open two-stage architectural competition to select a designer for the new Parliament House. The Committee acknowledges that construction may be undertaken in one or two major stages, and requests an overall masterplan to guide future expansion.

 

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October 1975

Canberra exhibition

The National Capital Development Commission stages an exhibition at Provisional Parliament House to illustrate the process necessary to plan, design and build the new Parliament House. It includes impressions of a hypothetical scheme for Parliament House on Capital Hill prepared by Canberra architect, Bert Read. The scheme subsequently appears in the Joint Standing Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House's reports.

 

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22 November 1978

A permanent Parliament House

Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser (LP, Wannon, Vic) announces that the building of a new Parliament House will proceed, to be completed by Australia Day 1988, at an estimated cost of $151 million. He assures the Parliament that 'at each major stage in the design and construction of the new building, the Parliament itself will be the authority to approve the next step to be taken'. Mr Fraser states that:

The design of Parliament House will give an unparalleled opportunity for the architectural design and building skills of Australians … The new Parliament House which is now to be built will take its place amongst the other great buildings which symbolise our culture, learning and system of justice. It will be the centrepoint of modern Canberra, the peak of the Parliamentary triangle, the hub of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia, a place in which the affairs of the nation can be conducted in a more efficient way …

The symbolic importance of the new Parliament House is made even more important by our anticipation that the opening of the building will take place in 1988, the bicentennial of the first European settlement in Australia. Since that settlement, Australians, by working together as a people sharing common ideals and a common purpose, have achieved great things. The decision to proceed now with the design and building of Parliament House reflects a confidence in the future, in which the people of this nation can justifiably share. The 1980s, the decade of our bicentennial, will be a period of optimism and excitement, a period of growth and development. I am certain that in this decade by working together with determination, with common purpose and the sense of national unity which the new Parliament House itself will symbolise, we can make Australia the great country we know it can be.

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30 March 1979

Parliament House Construction Authority

The Parliament House Construction Authority Act 1979 receives Royal Assent. It establishes the Parliament House Construction Authority 'to undertake and carry out the design and construction of Parliament House'.

 

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5 April 1979

Parliament agrees to an international design competition

Parliament authorises the Parliament House Construction Authority to announce the design competition for Australia's new and permanent Parliament House.

 

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7 April 1979

International design competition announced

The Parliament House Construction Authority formally announces the design competition for new Parliament House and invites registrations.

After consulting the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and the National Capital Development Commission, the Parliament House Construction Authority issues a brief and competition documents, including formal guidelines called 'Conditions for a Two Stage Competition'. Key requirements of the brief include:

Parliament House will, by virtue of its function, be one of the most significant buildings in Australia. Architecturally, it could be one of its great buildings. In urban design terms, it will be the keystone of Walter Burley Griffin's plan. It will stand for a long time and its architecture must endure through cultural and political change.

Competitors must do more than satisfy the immediate user requirements. They must also address themselves to the issues which will determine the success of the building in the long term.

These factors are:

  • flexibility – the ability to accommodate growth and change
  • security – the public and private dichotomy
  • circulation – a system to provide for complex movements of a large number of people
  • construction techniques – methods to cope with a short construction program and the inevitable growth and change
  • symbolism – the imageability of the building, given the significance of the site and the role of the building
  • building use patterns – given the unusual working pattern of the building
  • the site – the problems implicit in fitting the building to the site.

… Parliament House must be more than a functional building. It should become a major national symbol, in the way that the spires of Westminster or Washington's Capitol dome have become known to people all over the world …

The Assessors will be Sir John Overall (former Commissioner of the National Capital Development Commission), John Andrews (architect), Senator Gareth Evans (ALP, SA), IM Pei (architect), Barry Simon (LP, McMillan, Vic) and Professor Leonard Stevens (civil engineer).

The Parliament House Construction Authority receives 329 entries from 28 countries by the 31 August closing date for the Stage One competition.

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8 October 1979

Selection of finalists from the Stage One competition

Ten entries are selected as finalists, each receiving a $20,000 prize. Five of these are invited to go through to Stage Two of the competition. A deliberate decision is made to choose 'five markedly different design solutions … to allow the greatest possible diversity for consideration'.

The five finalists are:

  • Bickerdike Allen Partners (London)
  • Denton Corker Marshall Pty Limited (Melbourne)
  • Edwards Madigan Torzillo Briggs International (North Sydney)
  • Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp (New York)
  • Christopher Waite (British Columbia).

Each receives an $80,000 honorarium to assist in preparing the detailed plans and models required for the second-stage submission.

 

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November 1979

Stage Two competition commences

The Parliament House Construction Authority issues more detailed requirements to the five finalists. In particular, competitors were to note that:

Parliament House must be more than a functional building. It should become a major national symbol, in the way that the spires of Westminster or Washington's Capitol dome have become known to people all over the world. Strength and originality of image will determine the extent to which the building becomes associated in people's minds with national politics …

It is important that the building reflects the significance of the national Parliament and Executive Government in the Australian political and social context. The extent to which the building asserts this significance is related to questions of scale and monumentality. Careful consideration should be given to the implications of the scale and monumentality of the design …

The building and site treatment should respond to those qualities of environment which are uniquely Australian – climate, landscape, vegetation and quality of light … The philosophy which the building expresses, and its popular success, will depend in part on the extent to which public access and involvement is encouraged by the design. Parliament House should not appear remote and inaccessible. Access to both the site and the building should be facilitated. Within the building, connotations of a 'people's Parliament' and 'open government' will be established if people can penetrate the building and observe its operation.

The five finalists travel to Canberra for in-depth tours of Canberra, the site for the new building and the provisional Parliament House and have the opportunity to meet with senior parliamentary officers.

 

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23 May 1980

Stage Two competition closes

The assessors convene in June 1980 under strict confidentiality. They are assisted by technical and construction advisers.

 

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26 June 1980

Winning design

New York-based architectural company Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp is announced as the winner of the Parliament House design competition.

The assessors' report on the winning scheme notes its unpretentiousness and accessibility where children 'will not only be able to climb on the building but draw it easily too'. According to the architect, Romaldo Giurgola:

The magic relationship between geometry and land configurations of that plan … often became the object of my architectural dreams. The brief for the design of the parliament compiled by the NCDC was possibly the best I had ever encountered in my professional career. I plunged into Australian literature rather than into guides and travelogues. Patrick White, Miles Franklin, Henry Lawson and Les Murray became my real instructors, while the sonorous voice and accent of Richard Thorp, the Australian in our office, produced the right atmosphere.

The scope of the architect's brief is subsequently broadened to include non-building (fitout) items. Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp is ultimately responsible for the design conception, siting and architecture, as well as the interior design, furniture design, design of sound and vision systems, security, communications and movement systems, landscape, and coordination of the art and craft program.

Romaldo Giurgola comes to Canberra to implement his design, bringing an eight-person team from the New York office. Four, including Giurgola, stay in Australia after the project's completion.

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28 August 1980

Construction phase approved

The House of Representatives approves the Parliament House Construction Authority's proposal to construct the new Parliament House on Capital Hill.

 

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18 September 1980

Turning the first sod

Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser (LP, Wannon, Vic) turns the first sod on the site of the New Parliament House.

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21 January 1981

Earthworks commence

Having been duly admitted to the Federated Engine Drivers' and Firemen's Association of Australasia, Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser (LP, Wannon, Vic) takes command of a bulldozer to officially begin earthworks on the Parliament House construction site. His membership of the union is terminated shortly thereafter.

Construction of Parliament House will require the removal of most of Capital Hill. The building area comprises 7.5 hectares within a 32-hectare site, and is the largest construction site in the Southern Hemisphere at this time. Ten thousand Australians are involved in its construction onsite; many still return periodically to celebrate their work.

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18 August 1981

Schematic design presented to the Parliament

Minister for the Capital Territory, Michael Hodgman (LP, Denison, Tas), tables the Joint Standing Committee on the New Parliament House's sixth report, relating to the revised design brief and schematic design. He states:

It is my hope that this report and a separate report by the Joint Standing Committee on the New Parliament House will result in Parliament's agreeing to proceed with the construction of this exciting and much needed building. The design has been acclaimed as a building for the 21st century and beyond and will be the focal point for world attention when it is completed. It will be a measure of Australia's standing not only in architecture but also as a developed nation.

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21 October 1981

Exhibition centre opens

An exhibition centre opens at the Parliament House construction site, featuring models, graphic displays and films about the project. A pathway connects it to a viewing platform overlooking the site.

Speaking at the opening of the exhibition centre, the Minister for the Capital Territory, Michael Hodgman (LP, Denison, Tas), said that 'a million cubic metres of earth and rock had been excavated from the site in the past nine months'.

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12 November 1981

The first concrete pour

Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser (LP, Wannon, Vic) pours the first concrete for the foundations of Parliament House. The ceremony marks the start of the construction phase.

As the Government has set a deadline of 1988 for the building's opening, the timeframe for construction is compressed. The Parliament House Construction Authority elects to adopt a 'fast track' method whereby the design and construction processes are undertaken concurrently. This puts pressure on the Authority and architects to keep ahead of construction.

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February 1982

Art Advisory Committee appointed

The Parliamentary House Construction Authority appoints an Art Advisory Committee comprising:

  • Sir Laurence Muir (Chairman), Parliament House Construction Authority Board
  • Carl Andrew, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Sydney
  • Tony Bishop, Adelaide College of the Arts
  • James Mollison, Australian National Gallery
  • Professor Sir Joseph Burke, University of Melbourne (nominee of the Australian National Gallery)
  • Darani Lewers (nominee of the Crafts Board)
  • Romaldo Giurgola, Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp Architects
  • John Baily, Sydney College of Art (nominee of the Visual Arts Board).

In 1983, Ros Kelly (ALP, Canberra, ACT) and James (Don) Dobie (LP, Cook, NSW) are also appointed to the Committee.

The Committee's role is to provide advice on the selection, acquisition and commissioning of works for Parliament House.

Integral to Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp Architects' design for Parliament House are commissions to more than 85 Australian artists and craftspeople for over 70 works of art and craft for specific locations or uses in the building and its precincts. These include coats of arms, sculptures, tapestries, marquetry, paintings, prints, ceramic and glass friezes, furniture for major spaces and special suites, and the Forecourt mosaic pavement.

 

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July 1982

Non-building items authorised

To ensure that the building is ready by 1988, the Parliament House Construction Authority is authorised to manage and coordinate the fitout (known as non-building items) of Parliament House including communications and security equipment, artworks, furniture, fittings and furnishings, with an estimated budget of $82 million.

 

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31 January 1983

Open Days

The Parliament House Construction Authority conducts the first of nine public Site Open Days.

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4 October 1983

Foundation stone laid

Prime Minister Bob Hawke (ALP, Wills, Vic) lays the foundation stone for the new building.

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8 December 1983

Increase in the size of both Houses

The Representation Act 1983 receives Royal Assent, increasing the number of Senators to 12 for each state and increasing the membership of the House from 125 to 148, the increases becoming effective at the December 1984 election.

Section 24 of the Constitution (known as the nexus provision) provides that the number of Members of the House of Representatives must be twice the number of Senators, or as near as practicable. This ensures that the House of Representatives does not become disproportionately large in relation to the Senate. The Parliament has legislated only twice since Federation (in 1948 and 1983) to change the number of Members in both Houses. Redistributions increase the number of Members to 150 from the 2001 general election.

 

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1984

Parliament House Art Collection

The Art Advisory Committee commences collecting, with the first phase of purchasing artworks for display in the circulation areas and in parliamentarians' suites taking place between 1985 and 1987.

The works form part of the Parliament House Art Collection which, by 2012, contains over 6,000 art and craft works showcasing the work of emerging Australian artists and reflecting aspects of Australian culture, character and identity.

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February to May 1984

Strike by construction workers

Workers on the new Parliament House construction site strike for 14 weeks between February and May 1984 over negotiations on the Site Agreement.

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May 1984

A new role for Provisional Parliament House

In May 1984 the Joint Standing Committee on the new Parliament House recognises the provisional Parliament House's heritage value and recommends that it not be demolished. The chief architect, Romaldo Giurgola, strongly supports this view. The Committee notes that 'a major part of Australia's post-Federation political history has been written in the building and it has a further useful life'. Its Report on the Future Use of the Provisional Parliament House recommends that the building not be demolished:

The most appropriate future use would be as a museum related to the Australian Constitution, Federation and the Commonwealth Parliament.

The building is subsequently added to the Commonwealth Heritage List in 2004 and the National Heritage List in 2006. Its national heritage significance includes its place in the development of Australia as a nation from its opening in 1927 until the opening of the new Parliament House in 1988, including landmark national legislation and political events shaping Australian society.

Now known as 'Old Parliament House', the building becomes a venue for lectures, exhibitions and concerts. From 1998 to 2008 the former Parliamentary Library serves as an interim home for the National Portrait Gallery. On 9 May 2009, Old Parliament House opens to the public as the Museum of Australian Democracy.

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12 June 1984

Provisional Parliament House extensions

Extensions are approved for the provisional Parliament House to provide additional Senators' and Members' suites, following the increase in representation in the Senate and House of Representatives.

Space is at a premium. By 1983 some 3,000 people are working in the building, with more than half being accommodated in various former hostels and other nearby buildings. In 1984, two verandahs at the front of the building are enclosed to provide extra office space. In 1985 an annex is built in the House of Representatives gardens to provide additional accommodation. According to Senator John Button (ALP, Vic):

In Parliament House members work in small crowded rooms painted in Education Department cream and furnished with uniform carpets, railway station furniture, a tramways clock, and an elaborately complex system of division bells designed, one suspects, by Thomas Edison … Apart from cramped physical conditions a member is constantly subject to the hazards of air and noise pollution ‒ the former from a ferocious central heating system which dries the throat and saps the energy (one suspects a hidden malevolent hand), and the latter from the ubiquitous division bells. In my own case relief from the central heating is provided only by a heavy shower of rain, which pours through the roof of my office, necessitating the removal of books and papers and their replacement by buckets.

 

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October 1984

Increasing capacity at new Parliament House

The Parliament House Competition Brief had stated that

The ability to extend the building or to change the use of existing accommodation is fundamental to the long-term success of the building. The history of the provisional Parliament House demonstrates that Parliament's accommodation needs change constantly, often in unpredictable ways …

An increase in the number of Senators and Members may also cause an increase in those areas directly involved in providing services to Senators and Members …

Among the requirements specified in the Brief are the capacity to increase the number of Senators accommodated in the chamber to 120, and seating capacity in the House of Representatives to be able to be increased to 240, and for additional parliamentarians' suites to be added.

Following the passage of the Representation Bill, in October 1984 the Joint Standing Committee approves the design for building extensions to accommodate an additional 30 Members and 24 Senators.

 

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1984–88

Great Hall tapestry commissioning

The idea for a work of art as the centrepiece of the Great Hall is born in the earliest stages of designing Parliament House. The architects had considered a monumental painting for the space; however, after a meeting in July 1983 with renowned Australian artist Arthur Boyd in London, the decision is made to commission a major tapestry for the southern wall.

In July 1984, the Parliament House Construction Authority commissions Arthur Boyd to produce a design. Boyd produces three large canvases, one-quarter the scale of the finished tapestry, as designs for the commission. Untitled (Shoalhaven Landscape) 1984 is selected as the design, and the Victorian Tapestry Workshop in Melbourne is chosen to create the tapestry based on Arthur Boyd's design. It is one of the largest tapestries in the world, and takes a team of 13 weavers two and a half years to complete the work.

The tapestry pays homage to the centuries-old tradition of hanging tapestries in grand buildings. However, rather than a heroic scene or majestic panorama, it depicts the essence of the Australian landscape, the textures and colours of life under the canopy of a eucalypt forest.

At the time the Great Hall tapestry was being woven, Halley's Comet appeared in the sky, just as it had done in 1066 on the eve of the Norman Invasion, a phenomenon that was captured by the makers of the legendary Bayeux Tapestry.

In recognition of this event, and their connection to these ancient craftspeople, the weavers at the Victorian Tapestry Workshop sought permission from the artist to include the comet in the work, permission that he happily granted.

The tapestry was completed in early 1988 and installed in the Great Hall in March prior to the opening of Parliament House in May.

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6 November 1985

Visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales

The Prince and Princess of Wales visit the construction site of new Parliament House during their Royal Tour of Australia. 'Prince Charles and Princess Diana were greeted by claps, cheers and wolf-whistles from the workers.'

 

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1985–87

Forecourt mosaic commissioning

Centremost in the Forecourt of Parliament House is the mosaic pavement designed by Warlpiri artist Michael Nelson Jagamara AM. It is a significant symbolic reminder, at the heart of Australia's democracy, of the over 65,000 years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' presence in this country.

The concept of a Forecourt mosaic pavement depicting an Indigenous Australian design was agreed to in 1983, early in the building's design. Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp Architects describes the design intent of the mosaic as being in part to express:

… the sense of the collective wisdom of the Aboriginal cultures … expressed in that Aboriginal presence in the Forecourt: the wisdom and values of a culture which lived in harmony with the land, rather than imposing itself upon the land.

Five artists nominated by the Papunya Tula Artists cooperative in central Australia are invited to submit designs. In March 1985 the five come to Canberra for an onsite design orientation. They are each contracted to produce a 1.4m2 design in a designated colour palette which corresponds to available stone and mortar colours. However, in a spirit of great generosity, each submits two site-specific designs which are now held in the Parliament House Art Collection.

Jagamara's work known as Possum and Wallaby Dreaming is selected as the design for the mosaic by the Parliament House Construction Authority's Art Advisory Committee. His design is translated into stone by specialist stone consultant William McIntosh and mosaicists Franco Colussi and Aldo Rossi, working in close cooperation with the architects.

Installation of the mosaic takes around five months, with 2–4m2 of pavement completed each day. Pamille Berg, former Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp partner, reflects that:

In its completed form the Mosaic Pavement required more than five years of painstaking work by the artist, architects, mosaicists, technical consultants, construction managers, commission coordinators, administrators, and others. This precious pavement is clearly an essential part of the overall design and finishes of the Forecourt of the Parliament …

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August 1986

Budget cuts and partial reinstatement

In August 1986 the Government directs the Parliament House Construction Authority to reduce expenditure on the new Parliament House by $43.3 million.

The reduced budget results in a reduction in landscaping, fitout and furnishings, and the Parliament House Art/Craft program. In 1987 $5 million is reinstated to the budget for landscape works, and another $5 million transferred from furniture program to landscaping. In the following year, a budget of $9.3 million is established for the post-construction phase.

 

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6 October 1987

New Speaker's chair

On 6 October 1987, the Speaker, Joan Child (ALP, Henty, Vic), advises the House of Representatives that the Joint Standing Committee on the New Parliament House had decided that the Speaker's chair should not be transferred from the provisional Parliament House to the new building.

The Speaker presents the Committee's reasons for reconsidering its earlier decision, stating that:

This chair was a gift from the United Kingdom branch of the Empire Parliamentary Association. It is a replica of the original chair designed for the House of Commons chamber and contains timber from the Westminster Hall and from Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory. Presented in 1926, it has served as the Speaker's chair in this chamber for the whole of Parliament's occupation of this building. In doing so, the chair has become the central piece of this particular chamber, without which, I suggest, the chamber could become just another room. The design brief for the new Parliament House drew attention to the possibility that certain items might be transferred to the new building. One of these was the Speaker's chair. I have no doubt that in considering the matter last year the Joint Standing Committee made its decision to transfer the chair on the basis of tradition and the symbolic link with the Westminster Parliament.

In reviewing the decision, the Committee recognised these points; however, it also recognised the significance of preserving the integrity of the current chamber. It was felt that removal of the chair would completely destroy the character of the chamber and diminish its value as an historical testament to Australia's parliamentary development from 1927 to 1988. In this context it should be noted that in 1984 the Joint Standing Committee recommended that, after its vacation by the Parliament, this building should become a museum related to the Australian Constitution, Federation and the Commonwealth Parliament.

The new Parliament House will be a contemporary building, reflecting Australia's current traditions and values. It will incorporate a great deal of Australian skill, craftsmanship and materials. This will be particularly so in the two legislative chambers. Construction of the new building presents the opportunity for design and fabrication of a new chair in keeping with the distinctly Australian character of the new chamber.

The Committee's decision is opposed by some Members on the grounds that the transfer of the Speaker's chair to the new building would symbolise the continuity of the Parliament and provide a visible link with the provisional Parliament House.

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1988 an era ends, a new one begins

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January 1988

Building handed over

Areas of the new building are progressively handed over to the Parliament.

The move from the provisional to the new Parliament House proceeds smoothly, with trial sittings ensuring that systems and facilities are fully operational, and staff are familiar with the new arrangements. The relocation also allows Parliamentary Library staff and committee secretariats to once again return to the parliament building.

 

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12 March 1988

Commemoration Stone relocated

A Canberra Day ceremony is conducted to commemorate the relocation of the Commencement Column Monument (also known as the Commemoration Stone) on Capital Hill.

Following a Joint Standing Committee on the New Parliament House recommendation in 1987, the never-completed monument is relocated 'on the land axis immediately north of the parade ground associated with the new Parliament House'. During the relocation ceremony, three new plaques are added.

 

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5 April 1988

Legislative framework for Parliament House

The Parliamentary Precincts Act 1988 receives Royal Assent. It provides the legislative framework for the control and management of Parliament House subject to any order of either House.

As House of Representatives Practice states:

For most practical purposes, Parliament House is regarded as the only place of its kind, and one in which the two Houses through their Presiding Officers have exclusive jurisdiction. Thus in Parliament House, the police are subject to the authority of the Speaker and President and their powers are limited by the powers and privileges of the respective Houses …

 

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9 May 1988

The official opening of Parliament House

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II formally opens the new Parliament House on this carefully selected date.

1988 is the 200th anniversary of the First Fleet's arrival in Botany Bay and Sydney Cove – the Country of the Bidjigal and Gadigal peoples – and the founding of the NSW colony. Also, both the first federal Parliament in Melbourne (in 1901), and Provisional Parliament House in Canberra (in 1927) were opened on 9 May.

Millions share the experience through 'live television broadcasts, video recordings and special colour supplements in major newspapers' while approximately 25,000 spectators gather at Parliament House. This includes some 1,500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander protesters and their supporters seeking to 'draw attention to their demands for land rights and recognition of their sovereign rights'.

The Queen arrives to trumpet fanfare and Royal Salute, a guard of honour, and a military fly-past before unlocking the ceremonial doors. The formal opening ceremony follows, attended by some 3,800 official guests and bookended by the Royal Anthem ('God save The Queen') sung by Yvonne Kenny and the Australian National Anthem sung by Julie Anthony.

In her speech The Queen speaks of the significance of the permanent Parliament House:

This is a special occasion for the Parliament, but it is also a very important day for all the people of Australia. After eighty-seven years of Federation, a permanent home has been provided for Parliament, which is both the living expression of that Federation and the embodiment of the democratic principles of freedom, equality and justice …

This new Parliament House will become the workplace for the men and women into whose hands Australians choose to place legislative and executive responsibility. The chambers will become the centres for debate on all the pressing issues of government, and future generations of Australians will look to those who work here for national security, wise legislation and fair administration.

Prime Minister Bob Hawke (ALP, Wills, Vic) says:

… this building will become for our nation both the forum for our differences and the instrument of our unity – a building for all Australians, a Parliament reflecting the diversity of our entire society and responding to the needs of the whole community.

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9 May 1988

Architect's vision

In the program for the opening ceremony program, architect Romaldo Giurgola describes how the building is intended to be understood:

The site of the new Parliament House is at a vital point of confluence which completes the geometry of the plan of Canberra. As conceived by Walter Burley Griffin in 1912, the plan is one of intense order which at the same time preserves a pliable and enfolding landscape.

The building is quickly recognised as a major international achievement, with Romaldo Giurgola awarded the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal, and Parliament House subsequently winning numerous awards for architectural excellence.

 

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12 May 1988

New Auditor-General appointed

John Taylor commences as the 12th Auditor-General, replacing John Monaghan.

 

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2 June 1988

Last sitting of the Senate in Provisional Parliament House

At the Senate's last sitting in Provisional Parliament House, President Kerry Sibraa (ALP, NSW) and Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Fred Chaney (LP, WA), reflect on the Senate's history in the building.

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3 June 1988

Last sitting of the House of Representatives in Provisional Parliament House

The House of Representatives sits for the last time in the provisional Parliament House.

On behalf of the House, Prime Minister Bob Hawke (ALP, Wills, Vic) thanks former and present Members and staff who have contributed to the work of the House since the provisional Parliament House opened on 9 May 1927.

Opposition leader John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) further reflects on the way in which the provisional Parliament House has 'been at the very heart of our national life and our history' for 61 years.

 

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16 June 1988

Visit of the King and Queen of Spain

Spain's King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia are the guests of honour at a luncheon at Parliament House. The occasion is reported as 'the first big test' for the new Parliament House catering services.

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4 July 1988

Visit of the Prime Minister of Japan

Japan's Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita visits Parliament House as part of his official visit to Australia. He is guest of honour at a parliamentary luncheon.

 

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12 July 1988

Visit by the Prime Minister of Ireland

Irish Prime Minister Charles Haughey visits Australia as a government guest. While in Canberra he describes the new Parliament House as 'magnificent and majestic' and presents a Bicentennial gift of digitised convict records to the National Library.

 

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3 August 1988

Visit of British Prime Minister

Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visits Parliament House during a five-day visit to Australia. It is reportedly the 'first full official tour by a British Prime Minister since the 1950s, apart from Mrs Thatcher's attendance at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Melbourne in 1981'.

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11 August 1988

Visit of the President of the Republic of Nauru

Nauru's President Hammer DeRoburt visits Australia at the invitation of the Australian Government.

 

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17 August 1988

Resignation of the Governor-General and ministerial reshuffle

The Prime Minister announces Sir Ninian Stephen's resignation as Governor-General, with effect from 15 February 1989. Bill Hayden (ALP, Oxley, Qld) is appointed as his successor and resigns from Parliament that day.

In the subsequent Cabinet reshuffle, Senator Gareth Evans (ALP, Vic) becomes Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade; Ralph Willis (ALP, Gellibrand, Vic) Minister for Industrial Relations; and Senator Robert Ray (ALP, Vic) Minister for Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs.

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18 August 1988

Visit of the Prime Minister of New Zealand

New Zealand's Prime Minister David Lange, visits Parliament House during a week-long visit to Australia to sign a series of trade agreements.

 

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22 August 1988

First sitting in the new Parliament House

The Commonwealth Parliament sits for the first time in the new Parliament House.

Present at the special sittings are 'Presiding Officers and other distinguished visitors from many overseas Parliaments and Governments and from the Australian States and Territories', representatives from community groups who had presented gifts to the House, and others involved in the building of the new Parliament House.

The Senate commences sitting with President Kerry Sibraa (ALP, NSW) taking the chair and in the House of Representatives, Speaker Joan Child (ALP, Henty, Vic) taking the chair. The Presiding Officer in each chamber begins by tabling the Queen's message and the Governor-General's address that were delivered earlier in the Great Hall to mark the inaugural sittings of the two Houses in the building. Joan Child is the first woman to serve as Speaker in the Australian Parliament.

Regular parliamentary proceedings resume the following day.

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23 August 1988

Resolution acknowledges prior occupation

Prime Minister Bob Hawke (ALP, Wills, Vic) moves that the House of Representatives acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' prior occupation of the land, and acknowledges their dispossession and the denial of their citizenship rights. The House passes the resolution 80 to 59.

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25 August 1988

Liberals cross the floor on motion on immigration

Prime Minister Bob Hawke (ALP, Wills, Vic) moves that the House:

gives its unambiguous and unqualified commitment to the principle that, whatever criteria are applied by Australian Governments in exercising their sovereign right to determine the composition of the immigration intake, race or ethnic origin shall never, explicitly or implicitly, be among them.

Ian Wilson (LP, Sturt, SA) and Michael MacKellar (LP, Warringah, NSW) abstain, and Ian MacPhee (LP, Balaclava, Vic) and Philip Ruddock (LP, Dundas, NSW) cross the floor to vote with the Government.

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30 August 1988

Visit of the Prime Minister of Western Samoa

The Prime Minister of Western Samoa, Tofilau Eti Alesana, visits Parliament and is guest of honour at a parliamentary luncheon. Also attending are Mrs Tofilau, the Samoan Minister for Economic Affairs Tanuvasa Livi, and Mrs Tanuvasa.

 

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3 September 1988

Referendum

The 1988 referendum puts four proposals for constitutional change to Australian voters, to:

  • provide four-year maximum terms for both Houses of Parliament
  • provide for fair and democratic parliamentary elections
  • recognise local government in the Constitution
  • extend the right to trial by jury, to extend freedom of religion and to ensure fair terms for persons whose property is acquired by any government.

All of the proposals are defeated.

 

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5 September 1988

Visit by the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Ezekiel Alebua visits Canberra during his official visit to Australia. A focus of his visit is defence cooperation.

 

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8 September 1988

State visit of the King of Tonga

Tonga's King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV is guest of honour at a luncheon at Parliament House during a state visit to Australia.

 

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19 September 1988

Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference

Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen opens the 34th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in the Senate Chamber. More than 380 delegates from 38 Commonwealth countries attend.

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4 October 1988

Visit by the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl visits Parliament House as part of his official visit to Australia.

 

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8 October 1988

Oxley, Qld, by-election

Les Scott (ALP, Oxley, Qld) wins the by-election triggered by the resignation of Bill Hayden (ALP, Oxley, Qld). However, there is an 11.8% swing against the ALP.

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11 October 1988

State visit of the President of the Italian Republic

Italian President Francesco Cossiga is the guest of honour at a Parliamentary luncheon. It is the first state visit of an Italian Head of State in more than 20 years.

 

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13 October 1988

President of the Federated States of Micronesia

Micronesian President John Haglelgam is guest of honour at a parliamentary dinner. It is his first visit to Australia. In July 1987, Australia became the first country to establish diplomatic relations with the Federated States of Micronesia.

 

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25 October 1988

Dutch state visit

Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus of the Netherlands visit Parliament House during their state visit to Australia. They are accompanied by the Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek. During the visit, the two countries sign a treaty for Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters.

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8 November 1988

Visit of the President of the Republic of Korea

Korean President Roh Tae-Woo visits Australia and is the guest of honour at a luncheon at Parliament House. Apart from a visit to address the United Nations in New York, it is President Roh's first overseas state visit since assuming office.

 

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14 November 1988

ABC radio broadcasts

The ABC's radio broadcasting of Commonwealth parliamentary proceedings is moved to a new Parliamentary Broadcasting Network. Its eight transmitters enable broadcasts to be heard in all capital cities and Newcastle.

The ABC has broadcast the parliamentary proceedings since 1946, in accordance with the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act 1946. Australia's was the second Commonwealth national parliament to introduce radio broadcasting, a decade after New Zealand.

Listen: A broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission of the proceedings in Parliament 10 July 1946. This is the first time in the history of this Commonwealth that the regular day to day proceedings of Parliament have been on the air. Parts 2 and 4 cover Question and Answer Time in the House of Representatives
28MB MP3, Duration: 30:17

Listen: A broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission of the proceedings at Question time in the Senate, Parliament, 17 July 1946
17MB MP3, Duration: 18:20

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16 November 1988

Visit of the Prime Minister of Singapore

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew is guest of honour at a Parliament House luncheon during a week-long visit to Australia. Mr Lee controversially criticises Coalition comments on immigration during a subsequent interview.

 

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17 November 1988

Visit of the Premier of the People's Republic of China

Chinese Premier Li Peng visits Australia as part of his first overseas tour since assuming office. During his visit to Parliament House, Premier Li attends a dinner in his honour.

 

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29 November 1988

Visit of the President of the Hellenic Republic

The President of the Hellenic Republic, Christos Sartzetakis, visits Parliament House during his bicentennial visit to Australia.

 

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6 December 1988

Australian Capital Territory Self-Government Act

The Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 is enacted. It provides for a fully-elected legislature, an executive, and an independent court system.

 

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1989

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3 February 1989

Marking 40 years of Australian citizenship

Parliament House hosts a gala citizenship ceremony to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Australian citizenship. One hundred people from 30 countries become Australian citizens. Guests included Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen, candidates from the first citizenship ceremony, and parliamentarians.

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16 February 1989

Swearing-in of Governor-General

Bill Hayden is sworn in as Australia's 21st Governor-General, succeeding Sir Ninian Stephen.

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28 February 1989

Condolence Motion for Lloyd Rees AC, CMG

Prime Minister Bob Hawke (ALP, Wills, Vic) moves a Condolence Motion following the death of Australian artist Lloyd Frederic Rees AC CMG, in December 1988.

 

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8 March 1989

The Australian Quilt Project at Parliament House

The Great Hall and Federation Mall is filled with quilts made by friends and loved ones to memorialise people who have died of HIV/AIDS and to celebrate their lives. The Australian Quilt Project was launched on World AIDS Day 1988 by Chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on AIDS, Ita Buttrose.

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31 March 1989

First marriage in Parliament House

Peter Staples (ALP, Jagajaga, Vic) and Jeanette Bourke are married in the Mural Hall. Few wedding ceremonies have been held in Parliament House, but the Marble Foyer and staircases become a popular location for wedding photographs.

 

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4 April 1989

Senate: Casual vacancy New South Wales

John Faulkner (ALP, NSW) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Arthur Gietzelt (ALP, NSW) on 27 February.

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15 April 1989

Gwydir, NSW, by-election

John Anderson (NP, Gwydir, NSW) wins the by-election triggered by the retirement of Ralph Hunt (NP, Gwydir, NSW) on 24 February.

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19 April 1989

Construction phase ends

Following completion of Parliament House's formal gardens in April 1989, a public ceremony marks the end of construction.

 

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9 May 1989

New Opposition leader and leader of the Nationals

Party room challenges see a leadership change in both Coalition partners.

Andrew Peacock (LP, Kooyong, Vic) replaces John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) as Liberal Party leader and Leader of the Opposition.

Charles Blunt (NP, Richmond, NSW) replaces Ian Sinclair (NP, New England, NSW) as Leader of the National Party.

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24 May 1989

Prime Minister of PNG visits

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Rabbie Namaliu visits Parliament House during his visit to Australia.

 

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9 June 1989

Tiananmen Square memorial service

Following events in China's Tiananmen Square, Prime Minister Bob Hawke (ALP, Wills, Vic) conducts a memorial service in the Great Hall. He reads a cable from the Australian Embassy in Beijing describing the events and pays tribute to 'acts of indescribable bravery' of the estimated 2,000 demonstrators who died. His government subsequently grants permanent visas to 42,000 Chinese students.

 

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18 August 1989

Visit by the Prime Minister of France

French Prime Minister Michel Rocard visits Parliament House as a government guest. It is the first visit to Australia by a serving French Prime Minister. The visit marks the normalisation of relations following ongoing differences over New Caledonia, French nuclear testing in the Pacific, and the bombing of the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior.

 

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29 August 1989

A new Speaker

Leo McLeay (ALP, Grayndler, NSW) is elected as the 20th Speaker of the House of Representatives succeeding Joan Child (ALP, Henty, Vic).

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31 August 1989

Visit of the Prime Minister of Thailand

Thailand's Prime Minister, General Chatichai Choonhavan is the guest of honour at a parliamentary luncheon during his official visit to Australia.

 

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25–26 October 1989

Visit of the President of Vanuatu

Vanuatu's President, Frederick Karlomuana Timakata, visits Parliament House as part of an official state visit. The President attends the Fourth National Prayer Breakfast at Parliament House on 30 October.

 

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30 October 1989

Condolence Motion for Gordon Stanley Reid

Senators pay tribute to Gordon Reid, the former WA Governor (1984–89) who died on 26 October. Reid previously worked in the Department of the House of Representatives (1946–58), including as Serjeant-at-Arms. He co-authored (with Martyn Forrest) a series of essays on the Australian Parliament: Australia's Commonwealth Parliament 19011988: Ten Perspectives (1989).

 

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22 November 1989

Ministerial Statement on AIDS

The Minister for Community Services and Heath, Dr Neal Blewett (ALP, Bonython, SA) tables a policy discussion paper 'AIDS: a time to care, a time to act'. Blewett describes it as a 'first step in the development of a national strategy to guide Australia in the management of AIDS during the next stages of the epidemic'. The paper proposes three objectives for a National Strategy: minimising transmission; caring for those infected with HIV; and education and prevention.

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5 December 1989

Referral of Bills to Senate committees

The Senate adopts resolutions providing for the systematic referral of Bills to legislative and general purpose standing committees, to come into effect in August 1990.

This significantly refines the modern parliamentary committee system (established in 1970) and gives Senate committees a greater role in considering legislation.

 

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28 December 1989

Private Senator's Bill passed

Senator Janet Powell (AD, Vic) becomes the first woman to introduce a Private Senator's Bill passed by both Houses. The Smoking and Tobacco Products Advertisements (Prohibition) Act 1989 bans tobacco advertising in locally-produced newspapers and magazines.

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1990

 

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14–15 February 1990

Visit of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers Nikolai Ryzhkov visits Parliament House for discussions with Prime Minister Bob Hawke (ALP, Wills, Vic) during an official visit. The following evening he is guest of honour at a parliamentary dinner in the Great Hall.

 

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1 March 1990

New Acting Leader of the Australian Democrats

Senator Michael Macklin (AD, Qld) becomes Acting Leader of the Australian Democrats following Senator Janine Haines's (AD, SA) resignation. Haines resigned to contest a House of Representatives seat but was defeated.

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3 March 1990

New Opposition leader

Dr John Hewson (LP, Wentworth, NSW) replaces Andrew Peacock (LP, Kooyong, Vic) as Liberal Party leader and Leader of the Opposition.

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7 March 1990

Senate: Casual vacancy Tasmania

Robert Bell (AD, Tas) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Norman Sanders (AD, Tas) on 1 March.

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24 March 1990

Federal election

The 1990 election sees the Hawke Government re-elected with 49.9% of the two-party preferred vote. The ALP wins 78 of 148 (52.7%) House of Representatives seats.

The National Party's 14 House of Representative seats (a net loss of five) is its lowest number since 1919.

For the first time since 1966, an Independent member, Ted Mack (Ind, North Sydney, NSW) is elected to the House of Representatives.

Twenty-seven of 223 parliamentarians are women. Only 12 are overseas-born.

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4 April 1990

Senate: Casual vacancy South Australia

Meg Lees (AD, SA) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Janine Haines (AD, SA) on 1 March.

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6 April 1990

New leader of the Nationals

Following National Party leader Charles Blunt's (NP, Richmond NSW) election defeat, the party room elects Tim Fischer (NP, Farrer, NSW) as its new leader.

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7 May 1990

Senate: Casual vacancy South Australia

John Olsen (LP, SA) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Anthony Messner (LP, SA) on 17 April.

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8 May 1990

36th Parliament opened

Governor-General Bill Hayden opens the 36th Parliament. It is the first official opening of the Australian Parliament in New Parliament House.

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8 May 1990

Senate: Casual vacancy Queensland

Bill O'Chee (NP, Qld) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of John Stone (NP, Qld) on 1 March.

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16 May 1990

Senate: Casual vacancy Western Australia

Ian Campbell (LP, WA) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the retirement of Fred Chaney (LP, WA).

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17 May 1990

New Principal Parliamentary Reporter announced

John Templeton is announced as the 15th Principal Parliamentary Reporter, following John Campbell's retirement. He commenced in the role on 15 March 1990.

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22 June 1990

Visit of the President of Mexico

Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari is guest of honour at a parliamentary luncheon during his official visit to Australia. He is the first Mexican President to visit Australia. During the visit an extradition treaty is signed by the Australian and Mexican Foreign Ministers.

 

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1 July 1990

New Australian Democrats leader

Senator Janet Powell (AD, Vic) becomes the third leader of the Australian Democrats following Senator Janine Haines's (AD, SA) resignation on 1 March.

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2 July 1990

Visit of the Prime Minister of New Zealand

New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer visits Parliament House during an official visit to Australia. It is his first visit to Australia as Prime Minister and includes finalising the Closer Economic Relations Agreement.

 

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15 August 1990

Visit of the Prime Minister of Malta

Malta's Prime Minister Edward Fenech Adami visits Parliament House for talks on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues.

 

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21 August 1990

The invasion of Kuwait

Prime Minister Bob Hawke (ALP, Wills, Vic) makes a ministerial statement regarding Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. He informs the chamber that the Government has deployed two Navy guided missile frigates and a supply ship to the Gulf region 'to protect the international rule of law'. The ships 'have a clear mission to assist in enforcing economic sanctions'. Australia joins a 17-nation naval force intercepting merchant ships sailing to or from Iraq.

 

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21 August 1990

Senate Question Time televised

Senate proceedings are televised for the first time, 34 years after the introduction of television in Australia.

Two days later the Senate authorises its committees to also broadcast their public proceedings.

 

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21 August 1990

Hansard computerised

Following processing, Hansard material is transmitted electronically to the Government Printer for the first time.

 

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29 August 1990

Ministerial Statement on AIDS

The Minister for Community Services and Heath, Neal Blewett (ALP, Bonython, SA) addresses Parliament on AIDS, tabling a paper on the Government's national HIV/AIDS strategy.

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7 September 1990

Forest workers demonstrate outside Parliament House

Forest workers demonstrate at Parliament House supporting Minister for Resources, Alan Griffiths's (ALP, Maribyrnong, Vic) plan to allow logging in six new National Estate areas. However, Minister for Environment, Ros Kelly (ALP, Canberra, ACT) opposes the plan.

The forest workers begin dispersing on 14 September following Cabinet's decision to allow logging in another 15 National Estate areas and fast-track a decision on permanent reserves.

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24 September 1990

Deregulation of domestic aviation

The Airlines Agreement (Termination) Act 1990 receives assent, ending the previous two-airline policy and government economic regulation of interstate aviation.

 

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9 October 1990

Condolence Motion for Patrick White

The House of Representatives pays tribute to Patrick White, Australia's only Nobel Prize winner for literature.

 

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23 October 1990

Visit of Nelson Mandela

Parliament honours the South African anti-apartheid leader (and future President) Nelson Mandela at a lunch in the Great Hall.

 

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20 December 1990

Jimmy Barnes at Parliament House

Singer Jimmy Barnes donates 3,000 music tapes by Australian artists as a gift for the Australian naval crews serving in the Persian Gulf. Deputy Chief of Naval Staff Rear-Admiral Ian MacDougall receives the tapes at a special event at Parliament House.

 

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28 December 1990

Commonwealth Bank restructure

The Commonwealth Banks Restructuring Act 1990 receives assent. The Act converts the previously Government-owned Commonwealth Bank to a public company, with the Commonwealth retaining 70% ownership.

 

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1991

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21–22 January 1991

Parliament recalled: the war in the Gulf

Following the Prime Minister's 17 January announcement that Australia was now participating in United Nations actions to enforce Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait, Parliament is recalled for two days to debate the war in the Gulf.

While noting that the decision to commit forces to combat is the 'prerogative of the Executive', the Prime Minister states that it is 'fitting' that he 'place on parliamentary record the train of events behind this decision'.

 

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11 February 1991

Senate: Casual vacancy New South Wales

Dr John Tierney (LP, NSW) fills the Senate casual vacancy following Peter Baume's (LP, NSW) resignation on 28 January.

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12 February 1991

Condolence Motion for Norman Parkes CBE

The Parliament expresses its condolences following Norman Parkes's death on 29 January 1991. Mr Parkes was Clerk of the House of Representatives from 1971 to 1976.

 

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13 March 1991

House of Representatives proceedings televised

House of Representatives Question Time is televised live for the first time.

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22 March 1991

A new Clerk of the House of Representatives

The House of Representatives Clerk, Alan Browning, retires and is replaced by Lyndal Barlin the following day.

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9 April 1991

Condolence Motion for Sir John Kerr AK, GCMG, GCVO

The Senate offers its condolences to the family of Sir John Kerr, who died on 24 March. Kerr is most often remembered for his dismissal of the Whitlam Government in 1975.

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9 April 1991

Condolence Motion for Viscount de L'Isle VC, KG, GCMG, GCVO

Parliament expresses regret at Viscount de L'Isle's death. He was the last British citizen to serve as Governor-General (1961–65).

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16 April 1991

Visit by children of Chernobyl

The Victims of Chernobyl Relief Fund organises a delegation of children from Chernobyl to visit Parliament, as part of a larger contingent visiting Australia for six weeks.

 

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29 April 1991

Visit by the Prime Minister of Tuvalu

Tuvalu's Prime Minister Bikenibeu Paeniu receives a ceremonial welcome at Parliament House ahead of talks with Government and Opposition leaders.

 

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9 May 1991

Deaths in custody

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Robert Tickner (ALP, Hughes, NSW) tables the 'National Report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody'.

The inquiry examined the circumstances involved in the deaths of 99 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people whilst in custody between 1 January 1980 and 31 May 1989. The Royal Commission made 339 recommendations, with the final recommendation supporting the concept of a process of reconciliation.

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9 May 1991

Visit of the President of the Republic of Turkey

Turkish President Turgut Ozal attends a dinner at Parliament House. It is the first visit to Australia of a Head of State from Turkey.

 

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11 May 1991

Menzies, Vic, by-election

Kevin Andrews (LP, Menzies, Vic) wins the by-election triggered by the resignation of Neil Brown (LP, Menzies, Vic) on 25 February.

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28–29 May 1991

Condolence Motion for Emeritus Professor Manning Clark AC

Parliament pays tribute to eminent Australian historian Manning Clark who died on 23 May, aged 76.

 

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28 May 1991

Condolence Motions for Rajiv Gandhi

Parliament records its sadness following former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's assassination on 21 May 1991.

 

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3 June 1991

ALP leadership challenge and ministerial reshuffle

Treasurer Paul Keating (ALP, Blaxland, NSW) resigns from Cabinet after unsuccessfully challenging Prime Minister Bob Hawke (ALP, Wills, Vic). In the subsequent reshuffle, John Kerin (ALP, Werriwa, NSW) becomes Treasurer and Simon Crean (ALP, Hotham, Vic) is appointed Minister for Primary Industries and Energy.

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19 August 1991

New Australian Democrats leader

Senator Janet Powell (AD, Vic) is removed as Democrats leader following a party room vote. Senator John Coulter (AD, SA) becomes acting leader, prior to being confirmed on 3 October.

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29 August 1991

Senate: Casual vacancy New South Wales

Karin Sowada (AD, NSW) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Paul McLean (AD, NSW) on 23 August.

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2 September 1991

Visit of the Prime Minister of PNG

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Rabbie Namaliu is guest of honour at a parliamentary dinner during his official visit to Australia. During the visit the two countries sign an Agreed Statement on Security Cooperation. It is Mr Namaliu's second official visit as Prime Minister.

 

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28 October 1991

Visit of the Prime Minister of Cambodia

The head of Cambodia's Phnom Penh Government, Prime Minister Hun Sen, visits Parliament House for talks with government ministers and aid officials.

 

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9 December 1991

Ministerial reshuffle

John Kerin (ALP, Werriwa, NSW) is replaced as Treasurer by Ralph Willis (ALP, Gellibrand, Vic).

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12 December 1991

Visit of the President of Cyprus

Cypriot President George Vassiliou visits Parliament House during his state visit to Australia. The President meets with the Prime Minister and Opposition leader, and is guest of honour at an official luncheon.

 

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20 December 1991

Prime Minister Keating

Paul Keating (ALP, Blaxland, NSW) succeeds Bob Hawke (ALP, Wills, Vic) as Prime Minister. His ministry is sworn in on 27 December. Bob Hawke resigns from Parliament the same day.

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1992

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2 January 1992

Address by US President

President of the United States George HW Bush becomes the first foreign Head of State to address a joint meeting of both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament. The joint meeting is the first to be held in the new Parliament House and is only the Parliament's third joint meeting. More than 3,000 farmers gather outside Parliament House to demonstrate against United States trade subsidies.

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24 February 1992

Royal Visit

Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh visit Canberra as part of their Royal Tour of Australia, marking the Queen's Ruby Jubilee. They are guests of honour at a Parliamentary reception attended by 800 guests.

 

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25 February 1992

New (acting) Parliamentary Librarian

John Templeton is announced as the (acting) 8th Parliamentary Librarian, following Hillas MacLean's retirement. Mr Templeton commences in the role on 1 February 1992.

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12 March 1992

Senate: Casual vacancy Western Australia

Christabel Chamarette (AG, WA) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Jo Vallentine (AG, WA) on 31 January.

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2 April 1992

Sheep graze on roof of Parliament House

About 100 merino sheep graze on Parliament House's lawn-covered roof as part of a National Wool Day campaign. Opposition leader, Dr John Hewson (LP, Wentworth, NSW) and Simon Crean (ALP, Hotham, Vic) conduct a wool auction at Parliament House to raise awareness of Australia's wool industry.

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11 April 1992

Wills, Vic, by-election

Phil Cleary (Ind, Wills, Vic) wins the by-election triggered by Bob Hawke's (ALP, Wills, Vic) resignation on 20 February.

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4 May 1992

Visit of the US Defence Secretary

US Defence Secretary Dick Chaney visits Parliament House to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea.

 

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6–8 May 1992

Visit of the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama attends an informal reception at Parliament House hosted by the Presiding Officers and meets with the Prime Minister.

 

ch_4.

26 May 1992

Senate: Casual vacancy South Australia

Alan Ferguson (LP, SA) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of John Olsen (LP, SA) on 4 May.

ch_4.

27 May 1992

Reception to mark the 25th anniversary of 1967 referendum

Parliament House hosts a reception marking the 25th anniversary of the 1967 referendum. This referendum changed the Australian Constitution so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples would be counted as part of the population and the Commonwealth would be able to make laws for them.

 

ch_4.

31 July 1992

Change of Party representation

Senator Janet Powell (Ind, Vic) resigns from the Australian Democrats to sit as an Independent.

ch_4.

12 August 1992

Vehicle crashes into Parliament House

An armed man drives a vehicle through the Parliament House ceremonial front doors, scattering tourists and visitors, before stopping in the Great Hall.

Three days later four concrete bollards are installed at the main entrance to prevent vehicles driving through.

 

ch_4.

28 August 1992

High Court overturns restrictions on political advertising

The High Court strikes down the Political Broadcasts and Political Disclosures Act 1991, which banned all political radio and television advertising in the lead-up to state and federal elections. In handing down its decision, the Court identifies an implied freedom of political communication derived from sections 7 and 24 of the Australian Constitution.

 

ch_4.

1 September 1992

Visit of the Prime Minister of Fiji

Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka makes an official visit to Australia and is guest of honour at a parliamentary luncheon.

 

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7 September 1992

Visit of the Amir of Kuwait

Kuwait's Amir Sheik Jaber al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah makes a state visit to Australia. He is the guest of honour at a state dinner hosted by Governor-General Bill Hayden.

 

ch_4.

9 September 1992

Condolence Motion for Harold White

The Parliament expresses its condolences following Sir Harold White's death on 31 August 1992. Sir Harold was the Parliamentary Librarian from 1947 to 1967.

ch_4.

14 September 1992

Time limits in Senate

The Senate starts adopting time limits on Questions without Notice and Answers during Question Time.

ch_4.

27 October 1992

Visit of the Irish President

Irish President Mary Robinson visits Parliament House, where she is guest of honour at an event in the Great Hall.

 

ch_4.

4 December 1992

Change of Party representation

Keith Wright (Ind, Capricornia, Qld) sits as an Independent after losing ALP endorsement for the seat of Capricornia.

ch_4.

21 December 1992

Qantas Sale Act 1992

The Qantas Sale Act 1992 receives Royal Assent, laying the basis for the airline's privatisation. Under the Act, foreign ownership is capped, the airline must retain 'Qantas' in its name, and it must remain substantially Australian-based.

 

ch_4.

1993

ch_4.

8 February 1993

Speaker resigns

Leo McLeay (ALP, Grayndler, NSW) resigns as Speaker following accusations that he had made a false compensation claim. The accusation is later shown to be unfounded.

ch_4.

13 March 1993

1993 election

The 1993 election sees the ALP returned to government for a fifth term. Under Paul Keating's (ALP, Blaxland, NSW) leadership, the Government increases its majority in the House from eight to 13 seats. It is the first time that the ALP has won five consecutive elections and the first time since 1966 that an incumbent government achieved a positive two-party preferred swing (1.5%).

ch_4.

28 April 1993

Senate: Casual vacancy Victoria

Kim Carr (ALP, Vic) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of John Button (ALP, Vic) on 31 March.

ch_4.

29 April 1993

New leader for the Australian Democrats

Senator Cheryl Kernot (AD, Qld) defeats Senator John Coulter (AD, SA) in a party room ballot to become the Democrats' parliamentary leader.

ch_4.

30 April 1993

Visit of the Prime Minister of Japan

Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa visits Canberra for trade and security talks and is guest of honour at a Parliament House dinner.

 

ch_4.

4 May 1993

37th Parliament opened

The Governor-General Bill Hayden, opens the 37th Parliament.

 

ch_4.

4 May 1993

A new Speaker

Stephen Martin (ALP, Cunningham, NSW) is elected as the 21st Speaker of the House of Representatives, succeeding Leo McLeay (ALP, Watson, NSW).

ch_4.

4 May 1993

Condolence Motions for Sir Paul Hasluck KG, GCMG, GCVO, PC

The Parliament expresses its deep regret at the death of former Governor-General (1969–74) Sir Paul Hasluck who died on 9 January 1993.

ch_4.

4 May 1993

Condolence Motions for the Presidents of Turkey and Sri Lanka

The Parliament records its regret at the death of Turkish President, Turgut Ozal, and Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa, who died on 17 April and 1 May respectively.

 

ch_4.

4 May 1993

Condolence Motion for Fred Hollows

The Parliament pays tribute to the life and work of renowned ophthalmologist Professor Fred Hollows AC.

 

ch_4.

26–27 May 1993

Visit by Prime Minister of Vietnam

Vietnam's Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet visits Parliament House for talks during a state visit to Australia. It is the first visit by a Vietnamese Head of State since the end of the Vietnam War and provokes protests by Australia's Vietnamese community. A series of ministerial-level joint trade and economic cooperation talks follow.

 

ch_4.

17 August 1993

Condolence Motions for Sir Condor Louis Laucke KCMG

The Parliament marks the death of former Senate President Sir Condor Laucke (LP, SA) who died on 30 July. Sir Condor served as a Senator for over 13 years, and after leaving the Parliament was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of South Australia (1982–92).

ch_4.

17 August 1993

Condolence Motions for Sir Edward (Weary) Dunlop AC, CMG, OBE

Parliament pays tribute to the life of Weary Dunlop, surgeon, Army Medical Corps officer, veterans' advocate, and public figure, who died on 2 July.

 

ch_4.

24 August 1993

Senate: Casual vacancy Tasmania

Kay Denman (ALP, Tas) fills the Senate casual vacancy following Michael Tate's (ALP, Tas) resignation on 5 July.

ch_4.

6 September 1993

Visit of the German President

German President Richard von Weizsacker visits Parliament House during his state visit to Australia. It is the first visit to Australia by a German president since that country's reunification.

 

ch_4.

13–18 September 1993

Interparliamentary Union Conference

Parliament House hosts the 90th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) conference, attended by 500 international parliamentarians and hundreds of other delegates and staff. It is the first time an IPU Conference has been held in Australia. To mark the occasion, and the 50th anniversary of women in federal Parliament, Australia Post issues commemorative stamps featuring portraits of Dame Dorothy Tangney (ALP, WA) and Dame Enid Lyons (LP, Darwin, Tas) and the official IPU Conference logo.

 

ch_4.

27 September 1993

Protest march by Indigenous Australians

About 500 Indigenous Australians march to Parliament House protesting the government's Native Title Bill 1993.

They burn a copy of the Commonwealth's draft legislation, and Aboriginal artist Michael Nelson Jagamara symbolically 'removes' a stone from the centre of his mosaic in the Parliament House Forecourt as a protest.

 

ch_4.

27 September 1993

Condolence Motion for Oodgeroo Noonuccal

The Parliament pays tribute to Oodgeroo Noonuccal, activist, environmentalist and poet following her death on 16 September.

 

ch_4.

30 September 1993

Women in Parliament – 50th anniversary

The Senate adopts Cheryl Kernot's (AD, Qld) motion marking 50 years since Dorothy Tangney (ALP, WA) and Enid Lyons (LP, Darwin, Tas) were became the first women elected to Federal Parliament.

ch_4.

6 October 1993

Visit by the President of the Republic of Chile

Chile's President Patricio Aylwin Azocar visits Parliament House during a state visit to Australia. It is the first visit of a Chilean President to Australia.

 

ch_4.

16 November 1993

Condolence Motion for Justin O'Byrne AO

The Parliament pays tribute to former Senate President Justin O'Byrne (ALP, Tas) who died on 10 November. O'Byrne served as senator for Tasmania for nearly 34 years and was President during the 1975 constitutional crisis.

ch_4.

8 December 1993

Visit by the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands

The Marshall Islands President Amata Kabua visits Australia as a guest of the Australian Government. He is accompanied by the Republic's Foreign Minister Tom Kijiner and a trade and investment mission.

 

ch_4.

14 December 1993

Visit of the Prime Minister of the Lao People's Democratic Republic

Laotian Prime Minister Khamtay Siphandone and Foreign Minister Somsavat Lengsavad visit Parliament House for official talks during a state visit.

 

ch_4.

17 December 1993

New Federal Treasurer

Treasurer John Dawkins (ALP, Fremantle, WA) unexpectedly resigns from the ministry prior to retiring from Parliament.

Ralph Willis (ALP, Gellibrand, Vic) is subsequently appointed as Treasurer.

ch_4.

21 December 1993

The Native Title Act 1993

Following the longest debate in the Senate's history, a packed gallery celebrates the Commonwealth's native title 'Mabo' legislation passing at 11.58 pm. The Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993 receives Royal Assent on 24 December 1993.

The legislation is the result of a landmark High Court judgement, which overturned the doctrine of terra nullius (no-one's land) on which Britain based its claims to possession of Australia.

ch_4.

1994

ch_5.

23 January 1994

Resignation of Minister

Alan Griffiths (ALP, Maribyrnong, Vic) resigns from the ministry over allegations he financed a private business venture with electoral resources. He is subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing.

ch_5.

29 January 1994

Werriwa, NSW, by-election

Mark Latham (ALP, Werriwa, NSW) wins the by-election triggered by John Kerin's (ALP, Werriwa, NSW) resignation on 22 December.

ch_5.

1 February 1994

New President of the Senate

Senator Michael Beahan (ALP, WA) is elected Senate President, succeeding Kerry Sibraa (ALP, NSW).

ch_5.

2–3 February 1994

NSW bushfires

Parliament expresses its regret at the tragic loss of human life, flora, fauna and property caused by the recent NSW bushfires. Parliament also commends firefighters' efforts and sacrifices in battling the fires.

 

ch_5.

9 February 1994

Visit by the Prime Minister of PNG

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Paias Wingti is guest of honour at a Parliament House luncheon during his official visit to Australia.

 

ch_5.

22 February 1994

Senate: Casual vacancy Tasmania

Eric Abetz (LP, Tas) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Brian Archer (LP, Tas) on 31 January.

ch_5.

27 February 1994

Resignation of Minister

Ros Kelly (ALP, Canberra, ACT) resigns over the 'sports rorts affair', which involved alleged political bias in awarding grants to sporting bodies. Senator Graham Richardson (ALP, NSW) adds Environment, Sport and Territories to his existing ministerial responsibilities.

ch_5.

2 March 1994

Attack on Adelaide office of the National Crime Authority

The Minister for Justice, Duncan Kerr (ALP, Denison, Tas), makes a statement in the House of Representatives regarding a bombing at the National Crime Authority's Adelaide office.

Domenic Perre is later convicted of murder and attempted murder.

ch_5.

8 March 1994

Senate: Casual vacancies New South Wales

Belinda Neal (ALP, NSW) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Kerry Sibraa (ALP, NSW) on 1 February.

Robert (Bob) Woods (LP, NSW) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Bronwyn Bishop (LP, NSW) on 24 February. Bishop resigned to successfully contest the seat of Mackellar in the House of Representatives.

ch_5.

12 March 1994

Fremantle, WA, by-election

Former WA Premier Carmen Lawrence (ALP, Fremantle, WA) wins the by-election triggered by former Minister John Dawkins's (ALP, Fremantle, WA) resignation on 4 February.

ch_5.

15 March 1994

Commission of Inquiry into the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS)

The Commission of Inquiry into the Australian Secret Intelligence Service is established, headed by the Hon Gordon J Samuels and Michael Codd AC. The Commission, announced in February by Minister for Foreign Affairs Gareth Evans, will inquire into the operation and management of ASIS.

The Commission reports to the Government on 31 March 1995. A Public Edition of the report is printed, containing 'the fifteen chapters identified by the Commissioners as appropriate for release, edited to delete national security sensitive material'.

 

ch_5.

19 March 1994

Bonython, SA, by-election

Martyn Evans (ALP, Bonython, SA) wins the by-election triggered by former Minister Neal Blewett's (ALP, Bonython, SA) resignation on 11 February.

ch_5.

25 March 1994

Ministerial resignation

Minister for Health and Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories Senator Graham Richardson (ALP, NSW) resigns from Parliament due to his controversial assistance to businessman Greg Symons. Carmen Lawrence (ALP, Fremantle, WA) takes on the Health portfolio while Senator John Faulkner (ALP, NSW) becomes Minister for Environment, Sport and Territories.

ch_5.

26 March 1994

Warringah, NSW, and Mackellar, NSW, by-elections

Tony Abbott (LP, Warringah, NSW) wins the by-election triggered by Michael MacKellar's (LP, Warringah, NSW) resignation on 18 February.

Former Senator Bronwyn Bishop (LP, Mackellar, NSW) wins the by-election triggered by James Carlton's (LP, Mackellar, NSW) resignation on 14 January.

ch_5.

4 May 1994

Condolence Motion for Richard Nixon

The Senate offers condolences following the death of former United States President Richard Nixon.

 

ch_5.

10 May 1994

Senate: Casual vacancy New South Wales

Michael Forshaw (ALP, NSW) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Graham Richardson (ALP, NSW) on 25 March.

ch_5.

16 May 1994

Royal Commission into the leasing by the Commonwealth of accommodation in Centenary House

Governor-General Bill Hayden issues letters patent establishing an inquiry into the leasing of Centenary House (ACT) by the Government.

Commissioner the Hon TR Morling QC delivers his report on 25 October 1994.

 

ch_5.

23 May 1994

New Opposition leader

Alexander Downer (LP, Mayo, SA) replaces John Hewson (LP, Wentworth, NSW) as Liberal Party leader and Leader of the Opposition.

ch_5.

8 June 1994

Main Committee established by the House of Representatives

The Main Committee – a parallel chamber to the House of Representatives – meets for the first time. The new chamber extends opportunities for debate on non-contentious and Private Member's Bills, speeding up the legislative process.

ch_5.

13 September 1994

Prime Minister of Singapore

Singapore's Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong is guest of honour at an official Parliament House luncheon hosted by the Prime Minister.

 

ch_5.

20 September 1994

Visit by the Prime Minister of Ireland

The Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds is guest of honour at a Parliament House state dinner.

 

ch_5.

10 October 1994

Senate committee system restructured

The Senate's committee system restructure takes effect, following recommendations by the Procedure Committee.

The new system creates eight pairs of legislation and reference committees in each subject area. The legislation committees absorb the former estimates committees' functions, in addition to assessing Bills and government agencies' performance. The reference committees conduct inquiries into any other matters referred by the Senate.

 

ch_5.

10 October 1994

Condolence Motion for Sir Nigel Bowen AC, KBE

Parliament expresses its deep regret at the death, on 27 September, of Sir Nigel Bowen (LP, Parramatta, NSW). He was a former member for Parramatta, Government Minister, and Chief Justice of the Federal Court.

 

ch_5.

25 October 1994

Commission of Inquiry into the relations between the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Seaview Air

Governor-General Bill Hayden issues letters patent establishing a Commission of inquiry following the crash on 2 October 1994 of a Seaview Air Aero Commander 690 en route to Lord Howe Island. Nine lives were lost.

The Commission report, submitted in October 1996, strongly criticises both Seaview Air and the CAA. Before the commission reports, the CAA has been abolished and replaced by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and Airservices Australia.

 

ch_5.

7 November 1994

Visit by the Chairman of China's National People's Congress

The Chairman of the Chinese Congress Qiao Shi visits Parliament House during his official visit to Australia.

 

ch_5.

17 November 1994

Visit by the President of the Republic of Korea

South Korean President Kim Young-sam visits Parliament House during his official visit to Australia.

 

ch_5.

19 November 1994

Kooyong, Vic, by-election

Petro Georgiou (LP, Kooyong, Vic) wins the by-election triggered by former Liberal Leader Andrew Peacock's (LP, Kooyong, Vic) resignation on 17 September.

ch_5.

22 November 1994

Memorial service for Peter Wilenski AO

A memorial service is held in Parliament House for Australian diplomat and academic Peter Wilenski.

 

ch_5.

28 November and 5 December 1994

Tributes to Sir Magnus Cameron Cormack KBE

Parliament pays tribute to former Senate President Sir Magnus Cormack (LP, Vic) who died on 26 November. As Sir Magnus had requested that the usual Condolence Motion and speeches not occur, members and senators stand silently to acknowledge his contribution to the Senate.

ch_5.

21 December 1994

Change of Party representation

Senator John Devereux (Ind, Tas) resigns from the Labor Party to sit as an Independent.

ch_5.

1995

ch_5.

30 January 1995

Forestry workers' protest

More than 200 logging trucks blockade Parliament House to protest the Government's conservation designation for hundreds of forest areas. The blockade is lifted when Cabinet agrees to expedite environmental assessment of the areas.

ch_5.

30 January 1995

New Opposition leader

John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) is elected unopposed as Liberal Party leader, following Alexander Downer's (LP, Mayo, SA) resignation from that position.

ch_5.

6 February 1995

Interjector removed from Gallery

Parliament security officers remove a person from the House of Representatives Gallery for interjecting during proceedings. As the person is a repeat offender, the Speaker orders that he be excluded permanently.

 

ch_5.

27 February 1995

Buddhist Mandala Circle

Tibetan Buddhist monks complete a two-metre Kalachakra Mandala circle in Parliament House. Called the 'wheel of time', it intricately depicts 722 Buddhist deities, created by placing individual, coloured grains of sand on a table. The construction takes a month, after which, 'in a lesson of life's impermanence', the work is destroyed.

 

ch_5.

7 March 1995

Condolence Motions for Senator Olive Zakharov

Senators and members pay tribute to Senator Olive Zakharov (ALP, Vic) who tragically died on 6 March having been struck by a car after speaking at Melbourne's Midsumma Festival several days earlier. Sixty-six parliamentarians speak during the debate, and red roses are placed on her desk in the Senate in tribute.

ch_5.

10 March 1995

Shadow Minister steps down

Ian McLachlan (LP, Barker, SA) resigns from the shadow ministry after misrepresenting incorrectly-acquired culturally sensitive documents to attack the Government in Question Time on 6 March. The documents relate to Ngarrindjeri women's opposition to a proposed bridge from Goolwa to Hindmarsh Island in South Australia. (The proposed bridge led to the establishment of a Royal Commission and subsequent litigation.)

The House also censures McLachlan on 7 March for his conduct.

ch_5.

25 March 1995

Canberra, ACT, by-election

Brendan Smyth (LP, Canberra, ACT) wins the by-election triggered by former Minister Ros Kelly's (ALP, Canberra, ACT) resignation on 30 January, recording a swing of 16.2%.

ch_5.

28 March 1995

Visit by President of the Czech Republic

Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel visits Parliament House during his visit to Australia.

 

ch_5.

30 March 1995

Iron dogs exhibition

Artist Ingo Kleinert installs his 'The eye of the dog' exhibit on Parliament House's front lawn, to herald the Canberra National Sculpture Forum. The exhibit incorporates 400 corrugated iron dogs, moved every four days to enable the grass to be cut. One of the dogs is acquired for the Parliament House Art Collection.

ch_5.

8 April 1995

Wentworth, NSW, by-election

Andrew Thomson (LP, Wentworth, NSW) wins the by-election triggered by John Hewson's (LP, Wentworth, NSW) resignation on 28 February.

ch_5.

24 April 1995

New Auditor-General announced

Pat Barrett is announced as the 13th Auditor-General, replacing John Taylor. Mr Barrett commences in the role on 2 May 1995.

 

ch_5.

3 May 1995

Senate: Casual vacancy Victoria

Jacinta Collins (ALP, Vic) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the death of Olive Zakharov (ALP, Vic) on 6 March.

ch_5.

24 May 1995

Senate: Casual vacancy New South Wales

Thomas Wheelwright (ALP, NSW) fills the casual vacancy in the Senate created by the resignation of Stephen Loosley (ALP, NSW) on 21 May.

ch_5.

7 June 1995

A referendum on the Republic

Prime Minister Paul Keating (ALP, Blaxland, NSW) informs the Parliament of the Government's intention to enact a referendum on a Republic by the end of the decade.

ch_5.

18 June 1995

Change of Party representation

Paul Filing (Ind, Moore, WA) resigns from the Liberal party to sit as an Independent.

ch_5.

20 June 1995

Visit by the President of Croatia

Croatian President Franjo Tudjman visits Parliament House during his official visit to Australia, the first by a Croatian Head of State.

 

ch_5.

31 July 1995

Visit by the General Secretary, Communist Party of Vietnam

General Secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party Do Muoi visits Parliament House during his official visit to Australia.

 

ch_5.

7 August 1995

Change of Party representation

Allan Rocher (Ind, Curtin, WA) resigns from the Liberal party to sit as an Independent.

ch_5.

22 August 1995

Visit by the President of the Philippines

Philippine President Fidel Ramos visits Parliament House during his six-day official visit to Australia.

 

ch_5.

9 September 1995

Change of Party representation

Senator Noel Crichton-Browne (Ind, WA) is expelled from the Liberal Party and sits as an Independent for the remainder of his term.

ch_5.

18 September 1995

Condolence Motion for Dame Pattie Menzies GBE

Parliament pays tribute to the life of Dame Pattie Menzies who died on 30 August, and tenders its sympathies to her family.

 

ch_5.

13 and 23 November 1995

Condolence Motion for the Prime Minister of Israel

The Parliament records its deep sadness following Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination on 4 November.

 

ch_5.

15 November 1995

Visit by the Prime Minister of Canada

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien visits Parliament House during his official visit to Australia, marking the centenary year of official Canada–Australia trade relations. During the visit, the two countries sign a Trade and Economic Cooperation Arrangement.

 

ch_5.

29 November 1995

Senate: Casual vacancy South Australia

Natasha Stott Despoja (AD, SA) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of John Coulter (AD, SA) on 20 November.

ch_5.

5 December 1995

Change of Party representation

Graeme Campbell (Ind, Kalgoorlie, WA) resigns from the Labor Party to sit as an Independent.

ch_5.

1996

ch_5.

1 January 1996

Non-Members' bar closes

The Non-Members' bar in Parliament House is closed following a change in catering contract providers. The space is eventually occupied by a childcare centre.

 

ch_5.

16 February 1996

Swearing-in of Governor-General

Australia's 22nd Governor-General, Sir William Deane, is sworn in at a ceremony in the Senate Chamber.

ch_5.

2 March 1996

Federal election

The 1996 federal election sees the Liberal/National Party Coalition, led by John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) and Tim Fischer (NP, Farrer, NSW) return to government with a 40-seat majority after 13 years in Opposition.

The Liberal Party wins 76 seats in the House of Representatives, their largest-ever level of representation, while the National Party wins 18. The ALP wins only 49 seats in the House of Representatives.

The Coalition receives 53.6% of the two-party preferred vote (a swing of 5%), the highest vote since 1977 and the largest swing since 1975.

In the Senate, minor parties continue to hold the balance of power, despite a strong result by the Coalition. The Coalition wins 20 of the 40 Senate places contested. The Democrats improve on their 1993 result and return five Senators, while one Green Senator (Bob Brown, Tas) is elected.

Of the 223 parliamentarians, 43 (1%) are women and 37 (17%) are overseas-born.

ch_5.

8 March 1996

Senate: Casual vacancy Tasmania

Susan Mackay (ALP, Tas) fills the Senate casual vacancy following John Devereux's (ALP, Tas) resignation on 7 February.

ch_5.

11 March 1996

Howard Ministry sworn in

Of the 38 members of the Howard Ministry, 4 (11%) are women, two of these are members of Cabinet. The ministry comprises 31 Liberals and seven from the National Party.

ch_5.

19 March 1996

New Leader for the ALP

Kim Beazley (ALP, Brand, WA) is unanimously elected as Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, following Paul Keating's (ALP, Blaxland, NSW) resignation. Keating retires from Parliament on 23 April.

ch_5.

2 April 1996

Ministerial Code of Conduct

Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) issues the first ministerial Code of Conduct. Seven ministers resign for breaching the code:

  • Jim Short (LP, Ballarat, Vic) and Senator Brian Gibson (LP, Tas) step down in October 1996 due to not divesting shareholdings
  • Bob Woods (LP, Lowe, NSW) leaves the ministry in February 1997, and the Parliament soon after, due to ministerial expense claims irregularities
  • Geoff Prosser (LP, Forrest, WA) steps down in July 1997 due to a ministerial conflict of interest, and
  • John Sharp (NP, Hume, NSW), David Jull (LP, Fadden, Qld), and Peter McGauran (NP, Gippsland, Vic) resign in late 1997 due to travel allowance claim irregularities.
 

ch_5.

30 April 1996

38th Parliament opens

Governor-General Sir William Deane opens the 38th Parliament.

 

ch_5.

30 April 1996

A new Speaker

Robert Halverson (LP, Casey, Vic) is elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives, succeeding Stephen Martin (ALP, Cunningham, NSW).

ch_5.

30 April 1996

Tragedy at Port Arthur

The House of Representatives expresses its grief following the Port Arthur massacre which occurred in Tasmania on 28 April 1996. The Parliament 'extends its deepest sympathy to the families and friends of those killed and injured', and 'urges all governments to work cooperatively in response to issues raised by this tragedy'. Senators observe a minute's silence for those killed in the mass shooting, 'in sympathy with their loved ones and friends, with whom we join in mourning'.

On 1 May Members of both Houses also stand in a minute's silence to 'participate in the national mourning'.

 

ch_5.

30 April 1996

Condolence Motion for Sir Hubert Ferdinand Opperman OBE, Kt

Parliament expresses its regret at the death, on 18 April, of Sir Hubert Opperman (LP, Corio, Vic). Opperman's achievements as an endurance cyclist in the 1920s and 1930s brought him international acclaim and made him a sporting legend.

ch_5.

30 April 1996

Senate: Casual vacancy Victoria

Stephen Conroy (ALP, Vic) fills the Senate casual vacancy following Gareth Evans's (ALP, Vic) resignation on 30 September.

ch_5.

1 May 1996

Condolence Motion for Francois Mitterrand

The House of Representatives records its deep sadness at the death, on 8 January, of former French President Francois Mitterrand.

 

ch_5.

2 May 1996

Reforms to the treaty-making process

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer (LP, Mayo, SA) outlines reforms to the treaty-making process to increase parliamentary oversight.

ch_5.

10 May 1996

Gun control protest

Following the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, in which 35 people die and 21 people are injured, people rally outside Parliament House seeking improved gun control laws.

The protest coincides with a special firearms meeting of the Australasian Police Ministers' Council held in Canberra.

ch_5.

15 June 1996

Blaxland, NSW, by-election

Michael Hatton (ALP, Blaxland, NSW) wins the by-election triggered by former Prime Minister Paul Keating's (ALP, Blaxland, NSW) resignation.

ch_5.

17 June 1996

Black Hawk helicopter accident

Parliament expresses its deep regret at the death of 18 soldiers killed on 12 June when two Black Hawk helicopters collide on a training exercise.

 

ch_5.

25 June 1996

Corridor parties protest

Senators Natasha Stott Despoja (AD, SA), Rosemary Crowley (ALP, SA), Nick Bolkus (ALP, SA), Chris Schacht (ALP, SA) and Alan Ferguson (LP, SA) form a conga line in Parliament House in defiance of the Joint House Department's ban on corridor parties.

 

ch_5.

24 July 1996

Senate: Casual vacancy South Australia

Jeannie Ferris (LP, SA) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by her own resignation. Prior to her election, Ferris worked for Senator Robert Hill (LP, SA) which may have contravened section 44 of the Constitution.

ch_5.

19 August 1996

Parliament House riot

A riot erupts outside Parliament House, with the Eureka flag and Aboriginal flag hung across the Coat of Arms. During the Australian Council of Trade Unions rally against the Government's Industrial Relations Reform Bill 1993, a group forces entry into the building, causing injury and property damage.

 

ch_5.

20 August 1996

First woman Senate President

Margaret Reid (LP, ACT) becomes the first woman to be President of the Senate, replacing Michael Beahan (ALP, WA).

ch_5.

20 August 1996

Change of Party representation

Senator Mal Colston (Ind, Qld) resigns from the ALP to sit as an Independent.

ch_5.

5 September 1996

Senate: Casual vacancy Tasmania

Kerry O'Brien (ALP, Tas) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of John Coates (ALP, Tas) on 20 August.

ch_5.

18 September 1996

Senate: Casual vacancy New South Wales

Bill Heffernan (LP, NSW) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Michael Baume (LP, NSW) on 9 September.

ch_5.

19 October 1996

Lindsay, NSW, by-election

Jackie Kelly (LP, Lindsay, NSW) is elected Member for Lindsay. The Court of Disputed Returns had previously disqualified Kelly's initial victory in the 1996 general election under section 44 of the Constitution. Here the court noted Kelly as being both a New Zealand citizen and holding an office of profit under the Crown (as a serving RAAF officer).

ch_5.

7 November 1996

Reception for Peter Doherty

Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty is guest of honour at a Parliament House reception. Doherty is the seventh Australian to receive a Nobel Prize, jointly sharing it with Rolf Zinkernagel for their work in medicine.

 

ch_5.

20 November 1996

Address by US President the Hon Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton becomes the second US President to address a joint meeting of the Australian Parliament, following his election to a second term of office.

ch_5.

11 December 1996

Telstra sale

After more than 31 hours of debate, the Telstra (Dilution of Public Ownership) Bill passes Parliament, enabling the sale of up to one-third of Telstra while placing limits on foreign ownership; $1 billion of the sale revenue is to be allocated to environmental programs.

The Bill receives Royal Assent on 17 December. The Telstra share offer opens in October 1997, and in November Telstra shares are first traded on the stock exchange.

 

ch_5.

1997

ch_5.

1 February 1997

Fraser, ACT, by-election

ALP candidate Steve Dargavel wins the seat of Fraser (ACT) in a by-election triggered by John Langmore's (ALP, Fraser, ACT) resignation on 6 December.

ch_5.

4 February 1997

Condolence Motions for Senator John Panizza

The Parliament pays tribute to Senator John Panizza (LP, WA) who died on 31 January while attending a Privileges Committee hearing in Cairns. 

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11 February 1997

Condolence Motion for Edna Ryan

The Senate pays tribute to the life and work of pioneering feminist and activist Edna Ryan.

 

ch_5.

24 February 1997

Condolence Motion for Deng Xiaoping

The House of Representatives expresses its regret at the death, on 19 February, of the former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.

 

ch_5.

9 April 1997

Senate: Casual vacancy New South Wales

Marise Payne (LP, NSW) fills the Senate casual vacancy following Robert (Bob) Woods's (LP, NSW) resignation on 7 March.

ch_5.

28–29 April 1997

Visit of the Prime Minister of Japan

Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto visits Parliament House during an official visit to Australia.

 

ch_5.

5 May 1997

Visit of the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl visits Parliament House on an official visit to Australia.

 

ch_5.

6 May 1997

Laptops permitted in the House

Speaker Bob Halverson (LP, Casey, Vic) advises Members that notebook-style or laptop computers are permitted in the chamber, provided they do not disrupt or distract from proceedings.

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13 May 1997

Senate: Casual vacancy Victoria

Karen Synon (LP, Vic) fills the Senate casual vacancy following James Short's (LP, Vic) resignation on 12 May.

ch_5.

19 May 1997

Senate: Casual vacancy Western Australia

Philip Lightfoot (LP, WA) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the death of John Panizza (LP, WA).

ch_5.

26 May 1997

Condolence Motion for Sir William Aston KCMG

The Parliament expresses its deep regret at the death, on 21 May, of former Speaker Sir William Aston KCMG (LP, Phillip, NSW). Sir William served as Speaker from 21 February 1967 to 2 November 1972.

ch_5.

26 May 1997

'Bringing them home' report tabled

The Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Daryl Williams (LP, Tangney, WA), tables the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission's report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children entitled 'Bringing them home'.

The report leads to continuing public and parliamentary debate about implementing the report's recommendations, including an apology and compensation for those affected. The House does not agree to a full apology, but expresses deep and sincere regret for unspecified past injustices as part of a Motion of Reconciliation on 26 August 1999. It subsequently agrees to a formal apology on 13 February 2008.

ch_5.

25 July 1997

Retirement of the Clerk of the House of Representatives

Lyndal Barlin AM, Clerk of the House of Representatives since March 1991, retires. The new Clerk Ian Harris commences the following day.

ch_5.

25 August 1997

Condolence Motions for Sir Garfield Barwick AK, GCMG

The Parliament expresses its deep regret at the death, on 13 July, of Sir Garfield Barwick. He was formerly Chief Justice of the High Court (1964–81), Liberal Member for Parramatta (1958–64), Attorney-General (1958–64), and Minister for External Affairs (1961–64).

ch_5.

25 August 1997

Thredbo landslide

Parliament expresses its sympathy to the families and friends of those killed and injured in the Thredbo Village landslide on 30 July 1997. It also commends the work of rescuers and support teams.

 

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27 August 1997

Video- and tele-conferencing for House Committees

The House of Representatives resolves that its committees can use electronic communication devices for taking witness evidence or for Members' remote participation. This follows a successful trial by the House Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training.

 

ch_5.

1 September 1997

Condolence Motions for Diana, Princess of Wales

Parliament makes an Address to The Queen expressing its profound sorrow at the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

 

ch_5.

17 September 1997

Senate: Casual vacancy New South Wales

George Campbell (ALP, NSW) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Bruce Childs (ALP, NSW) on 10 September.

ch_5.

18 September 1997

Senate: Casual vacancy South Australia

John Quirke (ALP, SA) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Dominic Foreman (ALP, SA) on 15 September.

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22 September 1997

Condolence Motions for Mother Teresa of the Missionaries of Charity

Parliament records its sadness at Mother Teresa's death, on 5 September 1997 and expresses its sympathy to the Missionaries of Charity Order, and to the people of India.

 

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24 September 1997

Launch of Centrelink

Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) formally launches the new Commonwealth Services Delivery Agency, Centrelink, at an event in the Great Hall.

 

ch_5.

12 October 1997

'Sea of Hands' demonstration

Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation organise the 'Sea of Hands', with over 60,000 individually-signed plastic hands placed on Parliament House's front lawn, protesting proposed amendments to the Native Title Act 1993. It remains one of the most spectacular visual demonstrations of public sentiment at Parliament House.

ch_5.

30 October 1997

Senate: Casual vacancy Queensland

Andrew Bartlett (AD, Qld) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Cheryl Kernot (AD, Qld) on 15 October. Kernot successfully contests the seat of Dickson, Qld, in the House of Representatives at the 1998 election as an ALP candidate.

ch_5.

1998

ch_5.

2 February 1998

Change of Party representation

Paul Zammit (Ind, Lowe, NSW) resigns from the Liberal party to sit as an Independent.

ch_5.

4 March 1998

Change of Speaker

Ian Sinclair (NP, New England, NSW) is elected as the 23rd Speaker of the House of Representatives, succeeding Robert Halverson (LP, Casey, Vic).

ch_5.

4 March 1998

Katherine NT floods

The Senate notes the flooding which devastated Katherine on 26 January and commends the first responders.

 

ch_5.

31 March 1998

Visit by the President of the Argentine Republic

Argentine President Carlos Menem visits Parliament House during his official visit to Australia. It is only the second time an Argentine President has visited Australia.

 

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9–10 May 1998

10th birthday celebrations at Parliament House

To mark the 10th anniversary of Parliament House's opening, visitors receive a commemorative lapel badge and schoolchildren receive a locally-grown eucalyptus seed. Lighting displays, exhibitions and other events are held for those involved in the building's construction and in the Parliament House Art/Craft Program commissions. A special birthday celebration is held with 12 school children whose birthday is 9 May.

 

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12 May 1998

HMAS Westralia

Parliament pays tribute to those who died as a result of a fire on board HMAS Westralia – Megan Pelly, Shaun Smith, Bradley Meek, and Phillip John Carroll – and to the five naval personnel seriously injured in the incident on 5 May. It extends its sympathies to the families and other loved ones of those who lost their lives.

 

ch_5.

26 May 1988

Change of Party representation

Tony Smith (Ind, Dickson, Qld) informs the House of his resignation from the Liberal Party to sit as an Independent.

ch_5.

16 June 1998

Senate: Casual vacancy Northern Territory

Trish Crossin (ALP, NT) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Senator Robert (Bob) Collins (ALP, NT) on 30 March.

ch_5.

3 July 1998

'Textiles in Focus'

Senate President Margaret Reid (LP, ACT) opens the 'Textiles in Focus' exhibition to mark Parliament House's 10th anniversary. The exhibition features maquettes and samples of many of Parliament House's textile commissions, including the Great Hall Tapestry.

 

ch_5.

6 July 1998

Marathon Native Title debate

The Native Title Amendment Bill 1997 [No. 2] finally passes the Senate on its third attempt.

The Government introduced the Bill to implement amendments to the Native Title Act 1993 following the High Court's 'Wik' decision which determined that native title can coexist on pastoral leasehold land. The amendments (collectively known as the '10 point plan') are designed to provide legislative certainty regarding leasehold land.

 

ch_5.

7 July 1998

Change of Party representation

John Bradford (CDP, McPherson, Qld) resigns from the Liberal Party to sit as a member of the Christian Democratic Party.

ch_5.

3 August 1998

Visit of PNG Prime Minister

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Bill Skate visits Parliament House during his official visit to Australia.

 

ch_5.

10 August 1998

Field of Crosses memorial service

The Australian People's Forum on Youth Suicide delegates hold a 'Field of Crosses' memorial service on the lawns opposite Parliament House. Some 2,500 white crosses adorn Federation Mall, each representing a person who died by suicide over the past five years.

 

ch_5.

7 September 1998

Visit of the Irish President

Irish President Mary McAleese visits Parliament House on her first official visit since becoming Ireland's Head of State.

 

ch_5.

3 October 1998

Federal election

The 1998 election sees the Coalition Government returned despite receiving only 49% of the two-party preferred vote.

The Liberal Party receives 33.9% of the vote, its lowest since 1972, and the National Party receives just 5.4%. The combined first preference vote for the three major parties (79.6%) is the lowest since 1943.

Fifty-seven of the 223 parliamentarians are women. Thirty-one are overseas-born.

ch_5.

14 October 1998

Senate: Casual vacancy New South Wales

Stephen Hutchins (ALP, NSW) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Belinda Neal (ALP, NSW) on 3 September. Neal successfully contests the seat of Robertson, NSW, in the 1998 election.

ch_5.

6 November 1988

Praise Corroboree

Parliament House hosts more than 300 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians taking part in the third annual Praise Corroboree during the National Day of Prayer and Fasting.

 

ch_5.

10 November 1998

Opening of the 39th Parliament

Governor-General Sir William Deane opens the 39th Parliament.

 

ch_5.

10 November 1998

Change of Speaker

Neil Andrew (LP, Wakefield, SA) is elected as the 34th Speaker of the House of Representatives, succeeding Ian Sinclair (NP, New England, NSW).

ch_5.

3 December 1998

Firefighting tragedy

The Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and other parliamentarians express their distress at the death of five Country Fire Authority volunteer firefighters – Stuart Davidson, Gary Vredeveldt, Jason Thomas, Chris Evans and Matthew Armstrong – who died on 2 December while fighting bushfires near Linton, Victoria.

 

ch_5.

8 December 1998

Visit of the Italian President

Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro visits Parliament House during an official visit to Australia. He is the first Italian President to do so since 1988.

 

ch_5.

1999

ch_6.

8 and 15 February 1999

Condolence Motions for James Cope CMG

The Parliament marks the death of former Speaker of the House of Representatives James Cope (ALP, Sydney, NSW) who died on 3 February at the age of 91. He served as Speaker from 27 February 1973 to 27 February 1975.

ch_6.

8 February 1999

Condolence Motion for Neville Bonner AO

Parliament expresses its deep regret at the death on 5 February of former Senator Neville Bonner (Ind, Qld), and 'places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service' and tenders its sympathy to his family.

Recorded as the first Indigenous Australian to sit in Federal Parliament, Neville Bonner was appointed by the Queensland Parliament to replace Senator Annabelle Rankin (LP, Qld) in 1971.

ch_6.

8 February 1999

Condolence Motion for His Excellency the King of Jordan

The House of Representatives records its regret at the death on 7 February of the death of His Majesty King Hussein bin Talal of Jordan.

 

ch_6.

8 February 1999

Condolence Motion for Don Dunstan AC

Parliament records condolences for former SA Labor Premier Don Dunstan who died on 6 February.

 

ch_6.

16 February 1999

Visit of the President of Hungary

The President of Hungary, Arpad Goncz, visits Canberra during his official visit to Australia. It is the first visit of a Hungarian Head of State to Australia.

 

ch_6.

11 March 1999

Standard of dress for Members of Parliament

Speaker Neil Andrew (LP, Wakefield, SA) notes that the dress code for parliamentarians should reflect the Parliament's role as 'the equivalent of the board room of the nation'.

ch_6.

1 April 1999

Visit of the President of Vietnam

Vietnamese President Phan Van Khai is guest of honour at a luncheon at Parliament House during a state visit to Australia.

 

ch_6.

28 April 1999

Condolence Motion for Arthur Boyd AC, OBE

The Senate takes note of the death of Arthur Boyd, 'one of Australia's finest artists and leading philanthropists', who died on 24 April aged 78.

The Great Hall Tapestry, commissioned as part of the Parliament House Art/Craft Program, is a collaboration between Arthur Boyd, architectural firm Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp, and the craftspeople of the Victorian Tapestry Workshop (now the Australian Tapestry Workshop) in Melbourne. It depicts a bush scene in the Shoalhaven River area in southern NSW, an area that inspired many of his works.

 

ch_6.

26 May 1999

Journey of Healing

To mark the anniversary of the tabling of the 'Bringing them Home' report, a series of events is held in Canberra, including a ceremony in the Great Hall. Marking the first anniversary of National Sorry Day, the Journey of Healing 'was initiated at Uluru early in May 1999 when representatives of the stolen generations were 'welcomed back' by the traditional owners'. The issue of Reconciliation is the subject of a 'Matters of Public Importance' debate that afternoon.

 

ch_6.

11 June 1999

Exhibition: 'Works by Arthur Boyd'

The Presiding Officers launch a Parliament House exhibition of Arthur Boyd's works featuring his paintings of the Shoalhaven River.

 

ch_6.

21 June 1999

Further Telstra sales

With the support of independent senators Malcolm Colston (Ind, Qld) and Brian Harradine (Ind, Tas), the Telstra (Further Dilution of Public Ownership) Bill passes the Senate.

The Act receives Royal Assent on 5 July 1999. The so-called 'T2' sale opens on 21 September 1999 and closes on 7 October 1999. After the sale, the Government retains a 50% majority stake of Telstra. Total proceeds of the T2 share offer are $16.0 billion.

 

ch_6.

29 June 1999

Goods and Services Tax (GST) introduced

The House of Representatives agrees to Senate amendments and requests in relation to A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Bill 1999 and related Bills, and requests that the Bills be read a third time in the Senate. Debate on the Bill and 26 related Bills lasts a total of 68 hours 54 minutes.

The GST is a key element of the Government's tax reform plan and dominates the 1998 election campaign.

 

ch_6.

30 June 1999

New leader for the National Party

John Anderson (NP, Gwydir, NSW) succeeds Tim Fischer (NP, Farrer, NSW) as the National Party leader.

ch_6.

1 July 1999

Indigenous parliamentary representation

Senator Aden Ridgeway (AD, NSW) the second Indigenous person to be elected to the Parliament and the first to serve in the New Parliament House. Neville Bonner (Senator for Queensland) is recorded as being the first Indigenous Australian to enter the federal Parliament.

ch_6.

11 July 1999

Petrol bombs thrown at Parliament House

A man throws two fire-bombs at the Parliament House front doors, having previously rammed the doors with a car in 1992.

 

ch_6.

9 August 1999

Interlaken tragedy

Parliament expresses sympathies to the friends and families of those killed while canyoning at Interlaken, Switzerland, and commends the first responders and other assisting services.

 

ch_6.

18 August 1999

One Nation

Queensland's Supreme Court rules that One Nation was improperly registered at the 1998 State Election because it lacked the 500 members needed. The Court also finds that the registration was obtained by fraud and deception.

 

ch_6.

26 August 1999

Motion of Reconciliation to Indigenous Australians

In the presence of members of the Stolen Generations, each House of Parliament expresses its deep and sincere regret for past injustices.

 

ch_6.

31 August 1999

Senate proceedings 'go live'

The Senate authorises (subject to rules) its proceedings to be published by electronic means, including the Internet.

 

ch_6.

2 September 1999

Release of Australian aid workers

Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) makes a statement in the Parliament about the release from gaol in Belgrade of Australian aid workers Steve Pratt and Peter Wallace.

ch_6.

8 September 1999

Visit of the President of the People's Republic of China

Jiang Zemin becomes the first Chinese President to visit Australia.

 

ch_6.

10 September 1999

'Shame Australia!! Shame!' graffiti protest

Four men hang a banner at the front of Parliament House and spray-paint graffiti on the building in support of East Timor.

The men are subsequently found guilty of trespassing and damaging Commonwealth property.

 

ch_6.

17 September 1999

Visit by the President of the Republic of Korea

South Korean President Kim Dae-jung visits Parliament House during his official visit to Australia.

 

ch_6.

20 October 1999

Visit by the Prime Minister of Bangladesh

Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed visits Parliament House during her official visit to Australia. She is the first Prime Minister of Bangladesh to visit Australia.

 

ch_6.

6 November 1999

Republic referendum

Australians reject the referendum proposal to:

  • establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a Republic with the Queen and Governor-General being replaced by a President appointed by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Parliament, and
  • insert a preamble to the Constitution.

The referendum ends several years of widespread community discussion about Australia becoming a Republic.

 

ch_6.

11 November 1999

Parliamentary Service Act 1999

The Parliamentary Service Act 1999 establishes a separate legal framework covering staff employed by the Parliamentary Departments.

Previously the five Parliamentary Departments were staffed under arrangements provided by the Public Service Act.

The Parliamentary Service Act 1999 subsequently provides for a separate Parliamentary Service distinct from the Australian Public Service. It re-establishes the Departments of the Senate and House of Representatives, and provides for both Houses of Parliament to establish other parliamentary departments.

 

ch_6.

24 November 1999

White Wreath Day

White wreaths are laid on the Parliament House front lawns to mark the inaugural White Wreath Day, which highlights the tragic impacts of suicide in Australia.

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7 December 1999

Glenbrook train disaster

Parliament extends condolences to the families of those killed in the 2 December Glenbrook train disaster and commends the first responders.

 

ch_6.

2000

ch_6.

7 March 2000

Parliament welcomes INTERFET

The Presiding Officers welcome the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET) commander, Major-General Peter Cosgrove, accompanied by Australia's senior military leaders.

 

ch_6.

10 April 2000

Censure Motion

The Senate censures the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Senator John Herron (LP, Qld), for 'failure to fulfil his ministerial responsibilities and provide leadership in indigenous affairs'.

ch_6.

18 April 2000

Change of Party representation

Andrew Theophanous (Ind, Calwell, Vic) resigns from the Labor Party and sits as an Independent.

ch_6.

4 May 2000

Senate: Casual vacancy New South Wales

John (Sandy) MacDonald (NP, NSW) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of David Brownhill (NP, NSW) on 14 April.

ch_6.

16 May 2000

Senate: Casual vacancy Queensland

George Brandis (LP, Qld) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Warwick Parer (LP, Qld) on 11 February.

ch_6.

14 June 2000

Condolence Motions for Greg Wilton

Parliament pays tribute to Greg Wilton (ALP, Isaacs, Vic) who died in office on 14 June.

ch_6.

12 August 2000

Isaacs, Vic, by-election

Ann Corcoran (ALP, Isaacs, Vic) wins the by-election triggered by the death of sitting Member Greg Wilton (ALP, Isaacs, Vic). The Liberal Party does not contest the by-election.

ch_6.

14 August 2000

Laptops permitted in chamber

Members of the House of Representatives are permitted to take laptop computers into the chamber.

 

ch_6.

16 August 2000

Midwinter Ball tradition

The Parliament House Press Gallery conducts its first annual charity fundraiser, 'Midwinter Ball'. The event bringing together journalists, politicians and corporate executives for a night of entertainment.

 

ch_6.

14 September 2000

Senate: Casual vacancy South Australia

Geoffrey Buckland (ALP, SA) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of John Quirke (ALP, SA) on 15 August.

ch_6.

3 October 2000

Sydney Olympics

Parliament adjourns during the Sydney Olympics (15 September–1 October) and Paralympics (18–29 October). On the first sitting after the Olympics, the Parliament acknowledges the Australian athletes' successes.

 

ch_6.

30 October 2000

Attempted censure: Peter Reith

The Opposition attempts to censure the Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business, Peter Reith (LP, Flinders, Vic) regarding expenses incurred on a tax-payer funded phone card used by his son.

ch_6.

2001

ch_6.

26 February 2001

Death of Donald Bradman

Acting Prime Minister, John Anderson (NP, Gwydir, NSW) acknowledges the death of Sir Donald Bradman on 25 February.

 

ch_6.

17 March 2001

Ryan, Qld, by-election

Leonie Short (ALP, Ryan, Qld) wins the by-election triggered by the resignation of sitting Member John Moore (LP, Ryan, Qld) on 5 February.

ch_6.

2 April 2001

Fatal asylum seeker protest

Pakistani national Shahraz Kayani sets himself alight at Parliament House, after a prolonged campaign to secure asylum in Australia. He dies several days later.

 

ch_6.

7 April 2001

Australian Democrats leadership change

Senator Natasha Stott Despoja (AD, SA) is elected parliamentary leader of the Australian Democrats after defeating Senator Meg Lees (AD, SA) in a leadership ballot.

ch_6.

3 May 2001

Visit by the German President

German President Dr Johannes Rau and his wife Christina attend a luncheon hosted by Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) in Canberra during their state visit.

 

ch_6.

9 May 2001

Commemorative joint sitting of Parliament

The Commonwealth Parliament meets in Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Building in a historic joint sitting to commemorate the Centenary of Federation and the first sitting of the Parliament. The following day, both Houses of Parliament sit in the Victorian Parliament House.

ch_6.

22 May 2001

Condolence Motions for Peter Nugent

The House of Representatives and Senate move Condolence Motions honouring Peter Nugent (LP, Aston, Vic) who died in office on 22 April.

ch_6.

26 June 2001

Visit by the Indonesian President

Indonesian President KH Abdurrahman Wahid and Madame Sinta Nuriyah Wahid attend a parliamentary luncheon in the Great Hall as part of their state visit.

Wahid is the first Indonesian President to visit Canberra since 1972.

 

ch_6.

28 June 2001

Censure Motion

The House of Representatives censures the Leader of the Opposition, Kim Beazley (ALP, Brand, WA), for 'failing to order the renegotiation of the Labor Party's Centenary House leases and depriving the Australian community of $36 million'.

ch_6.

29 June 2001

New Governor-General

Peter Hollingworth is sworn in as Australia's 23rd Governor-General, replacing Sir William Deane.

ch_6.

14 July 2001

Aston, Vic, by-election

Chris Pearce (LP, Aston, Vic) wins the by-election following the death of sitting Member Peter Nugent (LP, Aston, Vic).

ch_6.

31 July 2001

Senate: Casual vacancy Queensland

John Cherry (AD, Qld) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of John Woodley (AD, Qld) on 27 July.

ch_6.

9 August 2001

Censure Motion

The House of Representatives censures the Leader of the Opposition, Kim Beazley (ALP, Brand, WA), for his 'failure to condemn irresponsible strike action in the manufacturing industry and for his continuing policy failure to promote the national interest over union interest'.

 

ch_6.

22 August 2001

Censure Motion

The House of Representatives censures the Leader of the Opposition, Kim Beazley (ALP, Brand, WA), for 'the way in which he has misled the Australian people about health policy in general and access to public hospitals in Western Australia.

 

ch_6.

27 August 2001

Tampa refused entry into Australian waters

Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) announces that the Norwegian vessel Tampa, carrying several hundred refugees rescued from a foundering vessel, would not be permitted to land in Australia.

 

ch_6.

29 August 2001

Royal Commission into HIH Insurance

Governor-General Peter Hollingworth issues letters patent establishing an inquiry into the collapse in 2001 of HIH insurance, Australia's second-largest general insurer. Its failure is 'a watershed for Australia's financial section'.

The Commissioner, the Hon Justice Owen, delivers his report in April 2003, identifying a litany of failures at HIH which led to its collapse.

 

ch_6.

29 August 2001

Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry

Governor-General Peter Hollingworth issues letters patent establishing an inquiry into the building and construction industry.

The Commissioner, Justice Terence Cole RFD QC, delivers his 23 volume report on 24 February 2003.

 

ch_6.

3 September 2001

Explosives packages intercepted

During a regular scan of incoming mail, Parliament House security staff intercept packages addressed to the Leader of the Opposition Kim Beazley (ALP, Brand, WA), Leader of the Australian Democrats Senator Natasha Stott Despoja (AD, SA), and Leader of the Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown (AG, Tas). The packages contain bullets and explosive detonators.

 

ch_6.

17 September 2001

9/11 service in the Great Hall

Over 2,000 people fill the Great Hall for an inter-denominational service to commemorate the people killed and injured during the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the USA. Attendees include most members of the Parliament, senior public servants, diplomats, members of the armed services and members of the public. Immediately following the attacks, enhanced Parliament House security measures are introduced, including entry screening (with the exception of senators and members), and restricting unaccompanied visitor passes.

 

ch_6.

2 October 2001

Change of Party representation

Senator Shayne Murphy (Ind, Tas) resigns from the ALP and sits as an Independent.

ch_6.

10 November 2001

2001 federal election

The Liberal/National Party Coalition Government is returned with an increased majority. The 2% two-party-preferred swing to the Government is the largest since 1966 and only the fifth positive swing to a government since 1949. The ALP records its lowest post-1945 first-preference vote in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The House of Representatives comprises 82 Coalition MPs, 65 ALP MPs, and three Independents.

In the new Senate, minor parties will continue to hold the balance of power, although the Australian Democrats will have to share this with other parties and Independents.

Women make up 27% of the Australian Parliament (up from 24.6% in the 39th Parliament) – 30.3% of Senators (up from 28.9%) and 25.3% of Members of the House of Representatives (up from 22.3%).

 

ch_6.

22 November 2001

ALP leadership change

Kim Beazley (ALP, Brand, WA) resigns as Leader of the Opposition following the ALP's election defeat. The ALP party room elects Simon Crean (ALP, Hotham, Vic) unopposed to replace Beazley as leader.

ch_6.

26 November 2001

Howard Ministry

The Governor-General swears in the new Howard Ministry.

Of the 42 members of the third Howard Ministry, 10 (24%) are women, two of these are members of Cabinet. The ministry comprises 36 Liberals (86%) and six National Party members (14%).

ch_6.

November–December 2001

The Peoplescape

As part of the Centenary of Federation, thousands of Australians are honoured with the Peoplescape exhibition outside Parliament House. It is the largest outdoor art installation in Australia.

ch_6.

2002

ch_6.

4 February 2002

Senate: Casual vacancy Tasmania

Richard Colbeck (LP, Tas) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Jocelyn Newman (LP, Tas) on 1 February.

ch_6.

12 February 2002

40th Parliament opened

Governor-General Peter Hollingworth opens the 40th Commonwealth Parliament.

 

ch_6.

14 February 2002

National Rail Corporation sold

The Australian Government sells the National Rail Corporation (in conjunction with the NSW Government's FreightCorp) to a private consortium for $1.2 billion.

 

ch_6.

15 February 2002

Visit by New Zealand Prime Minister

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) hold regular bilateral discussions.

 

ch_6.

26 February 2002

Senate: Casual vacancy Tasmania

Guy Barnett (LP, Tas) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Brian Gibson (LP, Tas) on 22 February.

ch_6.

28 February 2002

Visit by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Nigerian President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo attends a luncheon at Parliament House during his state visit. It is the first time a serving Nigerian Head of State has visited Australia.

 

ch_6.

24 May 2002

Visit by the President of the Portuguese Republic

Portugal's President Jorge Sampaio participates in a joint press conference with Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) as part of his state visit.

 

ch_6.

27 May and 17 June 2002

Condolence Motions for Sir John Gorton

Parliament pays tribute to former Australian Prime Minister Sir John Gorton (Ind, Higgins, Vic) who died on 19 May.

Gorton served almost 26 years in the Commonwealth Parliament as a Senator for Victoria in 1949 before switching to the House of Representatives in 1968.

Gorton remains the only senator to have become Prime Minister, following Harold Holt's (LP, Higgins, Vic) disappearance.

ch_6.

30 May 2002

Visit by Prime Minister of Thailand

Thailand's Prime Minister, Dr Thaksin Shinawatra, gives a joint press conference with Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) during a visit to Parliament House. Dr Shinawatra is the first Thai Prime Minister to visit Australia since 1989.

 

ch_6.

6 June 2002

Visit by President of the Hellenic Republic

Greece's President Constantinos Stephanopoulos participates in a joint press conference with Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) during his state visit. It is the first visit to Australia by a Greek President since 1988.

 

ch_6.

19 August 2002

Change of President of the Senate

Paul Calvert (LP, Tas) is elected as the 21st President of the Senate, succeeding Margaret Reid (LP, ACT).

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20 August 2002

Protesters climb the Flagmast

Greenpeace demonstrators climb the Parliament House Flagmast and unfurl a banner, protesting the Government's refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

 

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5 October 2002

Australian Democrats' leadership change

Senator Andrew Bartlett (AD, Qld) is elected leader of the Australian Democrats following Senator Natasha Stott Despoja's (AD, SA) resignation on 21 August 2002. (Brian Greig (AD, WA) has served as interim leader.)

 

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15 October 2002

Visit by Fiji Prime Minister

Fiji's Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase gives a joint press conference with Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) while visiting Parliament House.

 

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21 October 2002

Monash University shooting

The House is informed of the tragic shooting at Monash University which killed two people and injured five others. Many parliamentarians speak to the Condolence Motion, including Anna Burke (ALP, Chisholm, Vic) who represents the local electorate.

In response, additional legal restrictions will be placed on handguns through the National Handgun Buyback Act 2003, the National Firearms Trafficking Policy Agreement 2002 and the National Handgun Agreement 2002.

 

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24 October 2002

Bali bombing memorial service

Following the 12 October terrorist attack in Bali, Parliament House hosts a national memorial for the victims' families and friends. During the inter-denominational service, relatives are invited to light candles and place a flower in a specially-prepared Balinese water garden.

 

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29 October 2002

Senate: Casual vacancy Queensland

Santo Santoro (LP, Qld) fills the Senate casual vacancy caused by the resignation of John Herron (LP, Qld) on 5 September.

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December 2002

New South Wales bushfires

Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) expresses concern for all those affected by recent devastating bushfires in NSW.

 

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2003

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4 February 2003

Waterfall train tragedy, Space Shuttle Columbia, and the Canberra firestorm

Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) expresses the Parliament's sympathy and sorrow for all those killed and injured in the recent Waterfall train accident, the Columbia space shuttle tragedy and the Canberra bushfires.

 

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5 February 2003

Censure Motion

The Senate censures the Government for deploying Australian troops 'in the absence of any United Nations authorisation and without revealing to the Australian people the commitments on which that deployment was based'.

 

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18 February 2003

Senate: Casual vacancy ACT

Gary Humphries (LP, ACT) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Margaret Reid (LP, ACT) on 14 February.

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24 March 2003

Anti-Iraq War protests

Security guards remove a number of anti-war protesters from the House of Representatives public gallery. Outside, anti-war protesters attempt to storm Parliament House against a police barricade. Earlier this month four anti-war protesters walk from Melbourne to Canberra's Parliament House to raise awareness.

 

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28 March 2003

Degree conferred on the principal design architect of Parliament House

Romaldo Giurgola AO receives an honorary Doctorate of Science in Architecture from the University of Sydney.

 

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27 April 2003

New Party

Independent Senator (and former leader of the Australian Democrats) Meg Lees (APA, SA) establishes a new federal political party, the Australian Progressive Alliance.

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13 May 2003

Breastfeeding permitted in the Senate

The Senate amends its Standing Orders (SO 175) permitting senators to breastfeed an infant in the chamber.

 

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15 May 2003

Governor-General called on to resign

The Senate calls for Governor-General Peter Hollingworth to resign, following controversy about his role in handling sex abuse allegations within the Anglican Church.

Hollingworth subsequently resigns on 25 May 2003.

 

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29 May 2003

Censure Motion

The House of Representatives censures Laurie Ferguson (ALP, Reid, NSW) for 'attempting unsuccessfully to conduct a campaign of innuendo, imputation and smear against the Minister for Immigration' and 'failing to substantiate his claims when compelled by the House to do so'.

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16 June 2003

ALP leadership challenge

Kim Beazley (ALP, Brand, WA) unsuccessfully challenges Simon Crean (ALP, Hotham, Vic) for the ALP leadership.

 

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11 August 2003

New Governor-General

Major-General Michael Jeffery, AC, CVO, MC (retd) is sworn in as Australia's 24th Governor-General.

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7 October 2003

Censure Motion

The Senate censures Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) for 'misleading the Australian Parliament and the Australian people in his justification for taking this country to war with Iraq'.

 

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11 October 2003

The Nationals

The National Party of Australia relaunches itself as 'The Nationals' at its federal party conference. It is the party's third name change since the Australian Country Party was first established in 1920.

 

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16 October 2003

Bali bombing memorial

A memorial to the victims of the Bali terrorist attack is unveiled in the gardens of Parliament House by Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW). Approximately 550 survivors and family members attend the ceremony, where 12 doves are released and the flags are lowered to half-mast.

 

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23 October 2003

President of United States addresses Parliament

US President George W Bush addresses a joint meeting of Parliament. Senators Bob Brown (AG, Tas) and Kerry Nettle (AG, NSW) are suspended from the House for interjecting and not leaving the chamber when directed.

 

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24 October 2003

Visit by the President of the People's Republic of China

China's President Hu Jintao addresses a joint meeting of both Houses of Parliament during his state visit to Australia.

His address follows motions from Senator Lyn Allison (AD, Vic) that both he and the US President George W Bush be received in the Great Hall. The motions reflect minor party opposition to an address in the House of Representatives by a non-democratically elected Head of State. Following interjections during President Bush's address on the previous day, Greens Senators Bob Brown (AG, Tas) and Kerry Nettle (AG, NSW) do not attend President Hu's address. The events are subsequently considered by the Senate Privileges and Procedure Committees which recommend that any future addresses be to the House of Representatives to which senators are invited as guests. The recommendation is adopted for all future such addresses.

ch_6.

29 October 2003

Bogong moth infestation

Senator Meg Lees (APA, SA) expresses concern about how poisons used to kill bogong moths at Parliament House would impact local birdlife.

Parliament House acts as a giant beacon for moths as they pass through the Canberra area during October and November.

 

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27 November 2003

New Department of Parliamentary Services Secretary announced

Hilary Penfold QC is announced as the first Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services. She commences in the role on 1 February 2004.

 

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2 December 2003

ALP leadership change

Mark Latham (ALP, Werriwa, NSW) and Kim Beazley (ALP, Brand, WA) contest the ALP leadership, following Simon Crean's (ALP, Hotham, Vic) resignation on 28 November. Latham is elected leader, 47 votes to 45.

ch_6.

2004

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8 February 2004

Australia–United States Free Trade Agreement

The Minister for Trade, Mark Vaile (NP, Lyne, NSW), announces that Australia has formalised the Australia–United States Free Trade Agreement.

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12 February 2004

Man jumps onto floor of chamber

Security guards remove a man from the House of Representatives Chamber after he jumps down from the public gallery during Question Time. He is later charged with disrupting the procedures of the Parliament, causing alarm and fear to members of the House of Representatives and intimidating officials, and is ordered not to go within 100 metres of Parliament House.

 

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1 March 2004

Visit by Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Sir Allan Kemakeza, gives a joint press conference with Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) after the leaders discussed the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands intervention.

 

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30 March 2004

Censure Motion

The Senate censures the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Robert Hill (LP, SA), for failing to comply with an order of the Senate requiring him to table documents.

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31 March 2004

Senate: Casual vacancy Victoria

Mitch Fifield (LP, Vic) fills the Senate casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Richard Alston (LP, Vic) on 10 February.

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18 April 2004

Cabinet Room flooded

The Cabinet Room is flooded, resulting in extensive carpet damage and minor damage to the parquetry flooring, walls, ceilings and furniture within the vicinity.

 

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12 May 2004

Twenty-millionth visitor

The Parliament's Presiding Officers welcome the 20-millionth visitor to Parliament House since its 1988 opening.

 

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20 June 2004

Second Royal Commission to inquire into the Centenary House lease

The Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock (LP, Berowra, NSW), announces a second Commission of Inquiry into the ALP-owned Centenary House lease arrangements. On 24 June, Governor-General Michael Jeffery issues the letters patent establishing the Commission.

Commissioner David Hunt submits his report on 3 December 2004.

 

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21 June 2004

Censure Motion

The Senate censures the Minister for Defence, Senator Robert Hill (LP, SA), for his actions in response to 'reports of abuse of Iraqi prisoners by United States of America personnel'.

 

ch_7.

22 June 2004

Parliament House Vista heritage-listed

The Australian Heritage Council adds the Parliament House Vista to the Commonwealth Heritage List. Parliament House's heritage status is the subject of ongoing debate, given the unique position of the parliamentary precincts.

 

ch_7.

3 August 2004

Condolence Motions for Dr Henry Jenkins

The House of Representatives and Senate move Condolence Motions in honour of former Speaker Dr Henry (Harry) Jenkins (ALP, Scullin, Vic) who died on 27 July.

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9 October 2004

2004 federal election

For the second successive election, the Liberal/Nationals Coalition Government is returned with an increased majority.

The Liberal Party wins 74 seats in the House of Representatives, their second-highest result, while the Nationals win 12 seats, their lowest number since World War II. The NT Country Liberal Party returns one candidate.

For only the sixth time since 1949, a positive two-party preferred swing is recorded to the incumbent government. In terms of first-preference votes, the Liberal Party records over 40% for the first time since 1975, while the ALP records its lowest post-World War II first-preference vote. They win 60 seats. Independents hold three.

In the Senate, the Coalition wins 38 seats and wins control of the chamber for the first time since 1980. The Coalition parties win four of the six Queensland seats, the first time that this has been achieved in any state.

The informal vote in the House of Representatives (5.2%) is the second highest since 1949.

 

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26 October 2004

Howard Ministry

Governor-General Michael Jeffery swears in the fourth Howard Ministry.

Of the 42 members of the fourth Howard Ministry, nine (21%) are women, three of these are members of Cabinet. The ministry comprises 36 Liberals (86%) and six Nationals (14%).

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3 November 2004

Australian Democrats leadership change

Senator Andrew Bartlett (AD, Qld) does not re-contest the Australian Democrats leadership following the 2004 election. At a party room ballot his deputy Senator Lyn Allison (AD, Vic) becomes leader.

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16 November 2004

Opening of the 41st Parliament

The Governor-General, Major-General Michael Jeffery, opens the 41st Parliament.

 

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16 November 2004

Change of Speaker

David Hawker (LP, Wannon, Vic) is elected as the 25th Speaker of the House of Representatives, succeeding Neil Andrew (LP, Wakefield, SA).

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9 December 2004

Condolence Motion for Alan Browning

The Parliament expresses its condolences following Alan Browning's death. Mr Browning served as Clerk of the House of Representatives from 1985 to 1991.

 

ch_7.

2005

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28 January 2005

ALP leadership change

Kim Beazley (ALP, Brand, WA) is elected unopposed as ALP leader, following Mark Latham's (ALP, Werriwa, NSW) resignation on 21 January due to ill health.

 

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8 February 2005

South Australian bushfires

Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) addresses the chamber about the devastating South Australian bushfires that killed nine people and caused considerable damage to property.

 

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8 February 2005

Indian Ocean Boxing Day tsunami 2004

The Parliament expresses its deepest condolences at the tragic loss of life and property caused by the Boxing Day tsunami, the most severe tsunami disaster in the last 40 years.

 

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15 February 2005

Visit by Sultan of Brunei

Sultan of Brunei Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah meets with Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) during a state visit.

 

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9 March 2005

State visit by HRH Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary of Denmark

Danish Royals Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary are officially received in the Senate President's suite by the Presiding Officers and presented with a book on the Australian Parliament.

 

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10 March 2005

New Auditor-General appointed

Ian McPhee is appointed as the 14th Auditor-General, replacing Patrick Barrett.

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17 March 2005

Visit by Prime Minister of Norway

Norway's Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik and Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) give a joint press conference during a state visit.

 

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19 March 2005

Werriwa, NSW, by-election

Chris Hayes (ALP, Werriwa, NSW) wins the by-election triggered by the resignation of Mark Latham (ALP, Werriwa, NSW). There were 16 candidates, the third-highest number for a by-election since 1901.

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1 April 2005

Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library and Parliamentary Librarian

The Parliamentary Service Act 1999 is amended to establish the statutory position of the Parliamentary Librarian. The Act also establishes the Joint Standing Committee on the Parliamentary Library, which supersedes the previous House and Senate standing committee's functions.

The Parliamentary Service Amendment Act 2005 receives Royal Assent on 1 April 2005.

 

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4 April 2005

Visit by President of the Republic of Indonesia

Indonesia's President Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono visits Parliament House during his state visit to Australia.

 

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7 April 2005

Visit by Prime Minister of Malaysia

Malaysia's Prime Minister, Dr Abdullah Badawi delivers a joint press conference with Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW).

 

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15 April 2005

Memorial service for victims of RAN helicopter crash

Parliament House hosts a national commemorative service for nine ADF personnel killed when their Navy Sea King helicopter crashed in Indonesia. The crash occurred while the crew was conducting a humanitarian aid sortie.

 

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5 May 2005

Visit by Vietnamese Prime Minister

Vietnam's Prime Minister Mr Phan Van Khai participates in a joint press conference with Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW).

 

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5 May 2005

Senate: Casual vacancy New South Wales

Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (LP, NSW) fills the Senate casual vacancy caused by the resignation of John Tierney (LP, NSW) on 14 April.

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3 June 2005

Capital Hill Unconformity heritage-listed

A geological feature known as the Capital Hill Unconformity beneath Parliament House is entered in the Commonwealth Heritage List, together with the State Circle Cutting. These sites provide keys to interpreting the Canberra region's ancient geological landscape.

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14 June 2005

White powder security incidents

The Speaker addresses enhanced security measures to reduce items containing hazardous substances entering Parliament House.

This follows three incidents over the previous fortnight where (ultimately non-hazardous) white powder is found in letters delivered to the building.

 

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15 June 2005

Visit by President of the Islamic republic of Pakistan

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf becomes the first Pakistani Head of State to visit Australia.

 

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23 June 2005

Nationals leadership change

Mark Vaile (NP, Lyne, NSW) becomes leader-elect of the Nationals following John Anderson's (NP, Gwydir, NSW) resignation. Mr Vaile is confirmed as the Nationals new leader on 6 July.

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14 July 2005

Visit by President of the Republic of Chile

Chile's President Ricardo Lagos Escobar and Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) hold a joint press conference at Parliament House.

 

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9 August 2005

New Senate sworn in

State senators elected in October 2004 take their seats in the Senate for the first time. The new Senate comprises 39 Coalition senators, 28 ALP senators, four Australian Democrats senators, four Australian Greens senators, and one Family First senator.

From 1 July 2005, 28.3% of Australian federal parliamentarians are women. In the Senate the figure is 35.5%, while in the House of Representatives it is 24.7%.

 

ch_7.

9 August 2005

Terrorist attack on London transport 7 July

The Australian Parliament records its 'repugnance, horror and disgust' towards the recent terrorist attacks on the London transport system that killed 52 people.

 

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25 August 2005

Senate: Casual vacancy Tasmania

Carol Brown (ALP, Tas) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Susan Mackay (ALP, Tas) on 29 July.

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September 2005

Security wall

A waist-high 40cm thick security wall is built around Parliament House in response to heightened concerns about security.

The wall is part of an $11.7 million security upgrade that includes retractable metal bollards at all access roads, and strengthened external windows around ministerial offices.

 

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5 September 2005

United States of America Hurricane Katrina

Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) conveys 'our profound sympathy on the terrible devastation and apparently very large loss of life occasioned by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast region'.

 

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5 October 2005

New Parliamentary Librarian announced

Roxanne Missingham is announced as the ninth Parliamentary Librarian. Ms Missingham commences in the role on 6 December 2005.

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10 October 2005

Condemnation of Bali terrorist attack

Motions in the House of Representatives and the Senate convey the Parliament's 'condemnation and outrage' at the terrorist attacks which took place in Bali on 1 October 2005.

 

ch_7.

10 November 2005

Inquiry into certain Australian companies in relation to the UN Oil-for-Food Programme

The Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock (LP, Berowra, NSW), announces that former judge Terence Cole will head an inquiry into whether certain Australian companies breached the law regarding the United Nations Oil-for-Food Programme.

The inquiry's five-volume final report is tabled on 27 November 2006.

Final Report and Letters Patent:
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4
Volume 5

ch_7.

28 November 2005

Greens decide on a parliamentary leader

Senator Bob Brown (AG, Tas) is elected unopposed as parliamentary party leader of the Australian Greens. He becomes the first person to fill this role in the party.

 

ch_7.

30 November 2005

3,000 'Candles of Hope'

Protesters light 3,000 Candles of Hope at Parliament House's Federation Mall as part of a clemency campaign for Australian Van Tuong Nguyen. He was convicted of drug trafficking in March 2004 and faces execution in Singapore's Changi Prison, with the case sparking parliamentary debate regarding the death penalty.

 

ch_7.

8 December 2005

Abortion pill RU486

In a rare expression of cross-party cooperation, four women from the Australian Democrats, Australian Labor Party, Liberal Party and Nationals jointly introduce a Private Senators' Bill to remove ministerial power over the availability of the 'abortion pill', RU486.

Senators Claire Moore (ALP, Qld), Lyn Allison (AD, Vic), Judith Troeth (LP, Vic), and Fiona Nash (NP, NSW) co-sponsor the Therapeutic Goods Amendment (Repeal of Ministerial Responsibility for Approval of RU486) Bill 2005. The Bill receives Royal Assent on 3 March 2006, becoming one of only 13 Private Senators' Bills to become law since 1901.

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2006

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23 January 2006

Change of Party representation

Senator Julian McGauran (LP, Vic) resigns from the National Party to sit as a member of the Liberal Party.

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8 February 2006

Visit by New Zealand Prime Minister

New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark and Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) hold a joint press conference at Parliament House.

 

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14 March 2006

Visit by Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh

Her Majesty The Queen and Prince Philip attend a dinner at Parliament House during their state visit to Australia.

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27 March 2006

Visit by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair addresses Parliament, and becomes the first visiting foreign Head of State to speak in the House of Representatives where senators are invited guests.

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3 April 2006

Visit from Premier of China

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) hold a joint press conference at Parliament House.

 

ch_7.

4 April 2006

Visit by Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Dutch Prime Minister Dr Jan Peter Balkenende visits Parliament House during his official visit to Australia. It is the first visit by a Dutch Prime Minister since 1997.

 

ch_7.

 4 May 2006

Senate: Casual vacancy South Australia

Cory Bernardi (LP, SA) fills the Senate casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Robert Hill (LP, SA) on 15 March.

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29 May 2006

Beaconsfield miners' reception

A public reception is hosted in the Great Hall by Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) for Tasmanian miners Brant Webb and Todd Russell and those involved in their rescue. Miner Larry Knight who died in the rockfall is also remembered.

 

ch_7.

13 June 2006

Condolence Motion for Roy Bullock OBE

The Parliament expresses its condolences following Roy Bullock's death on 13 May 2006. Mr Bullock was Clerk of the Senate from 1979 to 1980.

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14 June 2006

Visit by Prime Minister of Singapore

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gives a joint press conference with Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW). It is his first visit to Australia as Prime Minister.

 

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7 September 2006

Visit by Prime Minister of the Republic of the Fiji Islands

Fiji's Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) hold a joint press conference at Parliament House during Mr Qarase's official visit to Australia.

 

ch_7.

12 October 2006

Visit by Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste's President, Dr José Ramos-Horta holds a joint press conference at Parliament House with Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) and later attends an informal lunch.

 

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19 October 2006

Human cloning laws

Senator Kay Patterson (LP, Vic) introduces a Private Senator's Bill regarding human cloning and embryo research. It receives Royal Assent on 12 December.

The Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Act 2006 is only the 13th Private Senator's Bill to become law since 1901.

ch_7.

19 November 2006

Telstra sale

The Australian Government concludes Telstra's privatisation by completing the Stage 3 (T3) share offering. This sale creates $15.5 billion in proceeds for the Australian government.

 

ch_7.

27 November 2006

Condolence Motion for Sir Harold Young

The Parliament pays tribute to former Senate President Sir Harold Young, KCMG (LP, SA) who died on 21 November.

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4 December 2006

ALP leadership change

Kevin Rudd (ALP, Griffith, Qld) is elected ALP leader 49 to 39 votes in a party room ballot against the incumbent Kim Beazley (ALP, Brand, WA).

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6 December 2006

Visit by President of the Republic of Korea

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun holds a joint press conference at Parliament House with Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) as part of his first state visit.

 

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7 December 2006

Inquiry into Indigenous stolen wages

Chair of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Senator Marise Payne (LP, NSW), tables its Unfinished business: Indigenous stolen wages report which the Senate then debates.

The report recommends that Commonwealth, state and territory governments establish compensation schemes for affected people.

 

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2007

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10 April 2007

Memorial service for Senator Jeannie Ferris

Senator Jeannie Ferris (LP, SA) is farewelled in a memorial service in the Great Hall following her death on 2 April.

The House of Representatives and the Senate move Condolence Motions on 8 May.

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19 April 2007

Senate: Casual vacancy Queensland

Suzanne Boyce (LP, Qld) fills the Senate casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Santo Santoro (LP, Qld) on 11 April.

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3 May 2007

Senate: Casual vacancy South Australia

Simon Birmingham (LP, SA) fills the Senate casual vacancy caused by the death of Senator Jeannie Ferris (LP, SA) on 2 April.

ch_7.

9 May 2007

Condolence Motions for Alan Cumming Thom

The Parliament expresses its condolences following the death on 14 April 2007 of Alan Cumming Thom, Clerk of the Senate from 1982 to 1988.

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31 May 2007

Visit by the President of the Republic of the Philippines

The Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo visits Parliament House during her official visit to Australia. It is the first visit by a Philippines President since 1995.

 

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 6 June 2007

Senate: Casual vacancy South Australia

Mary Jo Fisher (LP, SA) fills the Senate casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Amanda Vanstone (LP, SA) on 26 April.

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12 June 2007

Kerang rail accident and New South Wales floods

Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) expresses the Parliament's sympathies following a tragic level crossing accident at Kerang (Vic) and severe flooding and violent storms in the NSW Hunter and Central Coast regions.

 

ch_7.

19 June 2007

Senate: Casual vacancy Western Australia

Mathias Cormann (LP, WA) fills the Senate casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Ian Campbell (LP, WA) on 31 May.

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13 August 2007

Message stick tabled in the Senate

Senator Bob Brown (AG, Tas) tables a message stick and translation in the Senate.

Raymattja Marika presented the message stick to the Parliament on behalf of the Northern Territory Indigenous peoples. It reads:

Stop the legislation. Sit down and talk. No more dispossession.

 

ch_7.

20 August 2007

Change of Party representation

Harry Quick (Ind, Franklin, Tas) sits as an Independent, having been expelled from the Labor Party.

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14 August 2007

Change of President of the Senate

Alan Ferguson (LP, SA) is elected as the 22nd President of the Senate, following Paul Calvert's (LP, Tas) resignation from that position.

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30 August 2007

Senate: Casual vacancy Tasmania

David Bushby (LP, Tas) fills the Senate casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Paul Calvert (LP, Tas) from the Parliament on 29 August.

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2 September 2007

Equine influenza inquiry

Following an equine influenza (horse flu) outbreak in Australia, Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) announces an inquiry, to be led by retired judge Ian Callinan. The inquiry's final report is tabled on 16 June 2008.

 

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11 September 2007

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper addresses Parliament

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper addresses the Parliament.

 

ch_7.

11 September 2007

Condolence Motion for Harold Weir

The House of Representatives expresses condolences following the death of Harold Weir, who served as Parliamentary Librarian from 1978 to 1981.

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24 November 2007

2007 federal election

The ALP returns to office for the first time since 1996, winning 83 seats despite achieving its second-lowest first-preference vote (43.4%). Prime Minister John Howard (LP, Bennelong, NSW) becomes only the second Prime Minister (after Stanley Bruce in 1929) to lose his seat in an election.

The House of Representatives comprises 83 ALP MPs, 65 Coalition MPs, and two Independent MPs.

The Coalition loses its Senate majority, but still maintains 37 seats, five more than the Government. The Australian Greens increase its seats to five and Nick Xenophon (Ind, SA) also joins the Senate. However, the last four Australian Democrats leave the Senate, with two resignations and two election defeats.

 

ch_7.

29 November 2007

Opposition leadership change

Brendan Nelson (LP, Bradfield, NSW) is elected as Liberal Party leader, following his victory in a party room ballot against Malcolm Turnbull (LP, Wentworth, NSW).

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3 December 2007

Rudd Ministry

Governor-General Michael Jeffery swears in the Rudd Ministry.

Of the 42 members of the Rudd Ministry, 10 (24%) are women, and four of these are members of Cabinet.

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3 December 2007

Nationals leadership change

Warren Truss (NP, Wide Bay, Qld) is elected unopposed as Nationals leader following Mark Vaile's (NP, Lyne, NSW) resignation on 30 July.

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13 December 2007

Matt Price memorial service

Parliament Press Gallery journalist Matt Price is farewelled at a memorial service in the Great Hall.

 

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2008

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January 2008

Landscape trial

The Department of Parliamentary Services commences a landscape trial using different varieties of couch grass on the extensive lawns of Parliament House.

The trial forms part of the Parliament's environmental management program aiming to reduce energy and water use, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste generation.

 

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12 February 2008

42nd Parliament opened

Governor-General Michael Jeffery opens the 42nd Parliament.

 

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12 February 2008

First Welcome to Country ceremony

The first Welcome to Country ceremony is held at the opening of the 42nd Parliament.

Ngambri elder Matilda House-Williams presents Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (ALP, Griffith, Qld) with a message stick.

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12 February 2008

Change of Speaker

Harry Jenkins (ALP, Scullin, Vic) is elected as the 26th Speaker of the House of Representatives, succeeding David Hawker (LP, Wannon, Vic).

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12 February 2008

Nursing mothers proxy vote

The House of Representatives allows members who are nursing mothers a proxy vote (except on Constitution Alteration Bills).

The provision is first used on 20 October 2008 by Sophie Mirabella (LP, Indi, Vic).

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13 February 2008

Apology to Stolen Generations

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (ALP, Griffith, Qld) offers a formal Apology to Australia's Indigenous peoples, particularly the Stolen Generations, on behalf of the nation:

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country …

Following the speeches, Lorraine Peeters (Weilwun and Gamilaroi peoples), acting on behalf of the Stolen Generations present in the Parliament, presents a glass coolamon to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, Brendan Nelson (LP, Bradfield, NSW). The coolamon – made by Bai Bai Napangardi, an artist from the Balgo community (WA) – contains a message that said: 

On behalf of our people, thank you for saying sorry. In return we give you this gift on behalf of us affected by being taken away from our families. This is our way of saying thank you. The gift is a glass coolamon, fragile yet strong. Coolamons have carried our children. The gift is a symbol of the hope we place in the new relationship you wish to forge with our people. A relationship that itself is fragile yet strong. We have a new covenant between our peoples, that we will do all we can to make sure our children are carried forward, loved and nurtured and able to live a full life.

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27 February 2008

Visit by New Zealand Prime Minister

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark holds a joint press conference at Parliament House with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (ALP, Griffith, Qld) during her state visit.

 

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19 March 2008

New Department of Parliamentary Services Secretary announced

Alan Thompson is announced as the second Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services, taking over from Hilary Penfold. Mr Thompson commences in the role on 20 May 2008.

 

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19–20 April 2008

2020 Summit

Parliament House hosts the Government's two-day Australia 2020 Summit. The Summit is designed to develop long-term national policy options across 10 critical areas. It involves 1,000 Australians who are leaders in their fields.

 

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9 May 2008

20th anniversary of Parliament House

Parliament House celebrates the 20th anniversary of its official opening.

The commemorations focus on the 'the contribution of those who were involved in the design and construction of the building'. Approximately 1,000 workers attend the ceremony in the Great Hall.

 

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29 May 2008

Censure Motion

The House of Representatives censures the Opposition leader, Brendan Nelson (LP, Bradfield, NSW) for his 'failure to stand up for the interests of Australian motorists and consumers', 'capitulating to the interests of big oil companies', 'failing to put forward fully costed budget proposals' and 'continuing the practice of economic irresponsibility'.

 

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28 June 2008

Gippsland, Vic, by-election

Darren Chester (NP, Gippsland, Vic) wins the by-election triggered by the resignation of Peter McGauran (NP, Gippsland, Vic) on 9 April.

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25 July 2008

Bark petition presented

Following Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's (ALP, Griffith, Qld) apology to the Stolen Generations, Galarrwuy Yunupingu presents the Prime Minister with a bark petition requesting 'full recognition of Indigenous rights in the Australian Constitution'.

 

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26 August 2008

The new Senate sits

New state senators elected in the 2007 election take their seats for the first time.

The Senate comprises 37 Coalition senators, 32 ALP senators, five Australian Greens senators, one Family First senator, and one Independent senator.

From 1 July 2008 the Australian federal parliament comprises 29.6% women (35.5% of senators and 26.7% of MPs).

 

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26 August 2008

Change of President of the Senate

Senator John Hogg (ALP, Qld) is elected as the 23rd President of the Senate, succeeding Alan Ferguson (LP, SA).

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5 September 2008

First woman Governor-General

Quentin Bryce AC is sworn in as Australia's 25th Governor-General. She is the first woman to hold that position.

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6 September 2008

Lyne, NSW, by-election

Rob Oakeshott (Ind, Lyne, NSW) wins the by-election triggered by the resignation of Mark Vaile (NP, Lyne, NSW) on 30 July.

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6 September 2008

Mayo, SA, by-election

Jamie Briggs (LP, Mayo, SA) wins the by-election triggered by the resignation of Alexander Downer (LP, Mayo, SA) on 14 July.

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16 September 2008

Liberals leadership change

Malcom Turnbull (LP, Wentworth, NSW) is elected leader of the Liberal Party after he defeats Brendan Nelson (LP, Bradfield, NSW) in a party room spill motion.

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26 November 2008

Global Financial Crisis

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (ALP, Griffith, Qld) gives an economic statement on the Global Financial Crisis. He details the impact on Australian families, government action to date, and the economic future strategy.

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1 December 2008

Protesters removed from House of Representatives

Several protesters are removed from the House of Representatives, including a man who jumps from the public gallery into the chamber.

 

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3 December 2008

'Cash for photograph' scandal

James Bidgood (ALP, Dawson, Qld) allegedly attempts to sell photographs (for a donation to charity) taken of a protester who threatens to set himself alight outside Parliament House. The Speaker of the House of Representatives refers the matter to the Committee of Privileges and Members' Interests for its considerations of a possible code of conduct for members.

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2009

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9 February 2009

Condolence Motion for the Victorian bushfire victims

The House of Representatives suspends sitting until 2pm when a Condolence Motion for the 'Black Saturday' Victorian bushfires victims is debated. 173 people died in the tragedy. The Senate likewise expresses its deep regret at the loss of life, and its heartfelt concerns to those injured and to the families and friends of the deceased and injured.

 

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13 February 2009

Economic stimulus package

The Senate passes the Government's $42 billion economic stimulus package as a key response to the Global Financial Crisis.

 

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26 February 2009

Ministerial Statement: 'Closing the Gap'

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (ALP, Griffith, Qld) makes the first Ministerial Statement on the Closing the Gap National Agreement and tables the first annual report.

 

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5 March 2009

Visit by President of the Republic of Korea

South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak meets with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (ALP, Griffith, Qld) during a state visit.

 

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11 March 2009

Senate: Casual vacancy Western Australia

Chris Back (LP, WA) fills the Senate casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Chris Ellison (LP, WA) on 30 January.

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28 April 2009

Visit by Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Michael Somare gives a joint press conference with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (ALP, Griffith, Qld).

 

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22 June 2009

Censure Motion

The House of Representatives censures the Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull (LP, Wentworth, NSW) for 'relying on, actively communicating and promoting the contents of a fake email to attack the integrity of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer'.

 

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24 June 2009

Childcare centre opens

Almost three decades after the opening of Parliament House, a childcare centre opens in the former Non-Members' bar area. The conversion costs approximately $380,000.

 

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31 July 2009

Memorial service for Craig Senger

A memorial service is held in the Great Hall for Craig Senger, the first Australian diplomat to be killed in a terrorist attack. He was one of three Australians killed in terrorist bombings at Jakarta's JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels on 17 July.

On 11 August, Condolence Motions in the House of Representatives and the Senate pay tribute to the three Australians – Craig Senger, Garth McEvoy and Nathan Verity – and extends profound sympathies to their families.

 

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20 August 2009

Visit by New Zealand Prime Minister

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key participates in a joint press conference with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (ALP, Griffith, Qld).

 

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20 October 2009

Queensland bushfires

Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard (ALP, Lalor, Vic) informs the House about the Government's disaster assistance to communities affected by the Queensland bushfires.

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16 November 2009

Apology to the Forgotten Australians

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (ALP, Griffith, Qld) apologises on behalf of the nation to more than 500,000 'Forgotten Australians' and former child migrants, many of whom suffered abuse and neglect while in out-of-home care.

 

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19 November 2009

Retirement of the Clerk of the Senate

Harry Evans retires as Clerk of the Senate. Having commenced in 1988, he is the longest serving Clerk of the Australian Senate. Rosemary Laing commences in the role on 5 December 2009.

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1 December 2009

Liberals leadership change

Tony Abbott (LP, Warringah, NSW) is elected as Liberal Party leader in a party room ballot (42–41), defeating Malcolm Turnbull (LP, Wentworth, NSW).

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4 December 2009

Retirement of the Clerk of the House of Representatives

Ian Harris AO retires as Clerk of the House of Representatives, having served since July 1997. The new Clerk, Bernard Wright, commences the following day.

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5 December 2009

Bradfield, NSW, by-election

Paul Fletcher (LP, Bradfield, NSW) wins the by-election triggered by Brendan Nelson's (LP, Bradfield, NSW) resignation on 19 October.

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5 December 2009

Higgins, Vic, by-election

Kelly O'Dwyer (LP, Higgins, Vic) wins the by-election triggered by the resignation of Peter Costello (LP, Higgins, Vic) on 19 October.

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18 December 2009

Maralinga nuclear test site returned to traditional owners

The Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson (ALP, Batman, Vic), advises the House of the return of the Maralinga (SA) former nuclear testing site to its traditional owners, the Maralinga Tjarutja community. This ceremony follows a five-year rehabilitation project to safely remediate the site.

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2010

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22 February 2010

Censure Motion

The House of Representatives censures the Opposition leader Tony Abbott (LP, Warringah, NSW) 'for his extreme and reckless statements regarding the Government's Economic Stimulus Measures, his statement that he would oppose Government measures as a matter of policy, and his failure to advance fully costed alternative policy proposals'.

 

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23 February 2010

Censure Motion

The Senate censures the Government for 'its gross and systematic failure in the delivery of its climate change programs, including home insulation, green loans, solar rebate, renewable remote power generation program and the renewable energy target'.

 

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9 March 2010

Queensland floods

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (ALP, Griffith, Qld) speaks about the significant flooding across Queensland.

 

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10 March 2010

Visit by President of the Republic of Indonesia

Indonesia's President Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono meets with Australia's Prime Minister and Foreign and Defence Ministers during a state visit.

 

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20 May 2010

Change of Party representation

Having been expelled from the Liberal National Party of Queensland, Michael Johnson (Ind, Ryan, Qld) sits as an Independent for the remainder of his term.

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3 June 2010

Visit by President of the Republic of the Maldives

The Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed speaks with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (ALP, Griffith, Qld) about shared interests on his state visit.

 

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21 June 2010

Visit by President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste's President Dr José Ramos-Horta meets Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (ALP, Griffith, Qld) and Governor-General Quentin Bryce during his state visit. Dr Horta also opens a new Timor-Leste embassy in Canberra.

 

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23 June 2010

Welcome to Country confirmed

Both Houses amend their Standing Orders so that the opening of Parliament will include a Welcome to Country ceremony.

 

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24 June 2010

First woman Prime Minister

Julia Gillard (ALP, Lalor, Vic) is elected unopposed as ALP leader after current Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (ALP, Griffith, Qld) chooses not to contest the leadership in a party room ballot.

She becomes the 27th Prime Minister of Australia, and the first woman to hold that position. As a Welsh-born migrant, she is also Australia's first overseas-born Prime Minister since Billy Hughes (LP, Bradfield, NSW).

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24 June 2010

Gillard Ministry

Governor-General Quentin Bryce swears in the Gillard Ministry.

Of the 40 members of the Gillard Ministry, nine (23%) are women, and four of these are members of Cabinet.

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21 August 2010

2010 federal election

The election results in a 'hung' parliament, the Government being returned with the support of the Greens and three of the four Independents. The House of Representatives comprises 72 ALP MPs, 73 Coalition MPs, one AG MP, and four Independent MPs.

In the Senate, the Greens achieve the balance of power, winning six seats to make a total of nine. The DLP sees its first senator John Madigan (DLP, Vic) elected since 1970.

From 1 July 2011 the Australian parliament is made up of 29.6% women – 39.5% of senators and 24.7% of members of the House of Representatives.

 

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2 September 2010

'Lines that Speak' exhibition

To commemorate Romaldo Giurgola's 90th birthday, Parliament House hosts the 'Lines that speak: architectural drawings of Romaldo Giurgola' exhibition.

 

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14 September 2010

Gillard Ministry

The Governor General swears in the second Gillard Ministry.

Of the 42 members, 12 (29%) are women, and four of these are members of Cabinet.

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28 September 2010

Opening of 43rd Parliament

Governor-General Quentin Bryce opens the 43rd Parliament.

 

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29 September 2010

Changes to procedures in House of Representatives

As a result of the Agreement for a better Parliament: Parliamentary Reform, the House of Representatives agrees to amend the Standing Orders.

 

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29 September 2010

First Indigenous Member of the House of Representatives

The first Indigenous Member of the House of Representatives Ken Wyatt (LP, Hasluck, WA), gives his first speech.

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3 October 2010

High-security briefing room

A new Parliament House high-security emergency response briefing room is declared operational.

It is designed to be a central coordination point during times of national and international crisis.

 

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26 October 2010

Youngest Parliamentarian

Wyatt Roy (LP, Longman, Qld), the youngest elected MP, gives his first speech.

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25 November 2010

Cambodia festival disaster

Prime Minister Julia Gillard (ALP, Lalor, Vic) expresses condolences to Cambodia's government and people for the recent Water Festival tragedy in Phnom Penh, where 380 people died.

 

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2011

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8 February 2011

Cyclone Yasi, unprecedented floods, and bushfires

Prime Minister Julia Gillard (ALP, Lalor, Vic) 'acknowledge[s] with great sadness' the devastation caused by unprecedented floods, Cyclone Yasi and bushfires.

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9 February 2011

Christmas Island boat disaster

Prime Minister Julia Gillard (ALP, Lalor, Vic) speaks on the tragic loss of 50 lives which occurred on 15 December when a vessel carrying asylum seekers sank off Christmas Island. The incident becomes the subject of a House Committee report.

 

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23 February 2011

Visit by Mongolian Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold

Mongolian Prime Minister, Sukhbaatar Batbold, is welcomed to Parliament House as part of his official visit to Australia. During his visit he signs a Memorandum of Understanding on Vocational Education and Training with Mongolia.

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3 March 2011

Visit by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak

Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, visits Parliament House, the third visit by a Malaysian Prime Minister in 30 years.

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11 March 2011

Parliament House lights up

Parliament House is illuminated during the ACT Government's 'Enlighten' Canberra Festival. 'Enlighten' includes illuminated projections on several buildings, showcasing Canberra's most famous tourist attractions.

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21 March 2011

Japan natural disasters

Parliament expresses its deep shock at the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency that has struck Japan. The government commits $10m to the Australian Red Cross Japan and Pacific disaster appeal.

 

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21 March 2011

New Zealand earthquake

Parliament expresses its condolences to the people of New Zealand after the devastating Christchurch earthquake in February.

 

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5–11 April 2011

Visit by Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference

The Chairman of China's National Committee of the Chinese People Political Consultative Conference, Jia Qinglin, visits Parliament House. He meets with Prime Minister Julia Gillard (ALP, Lalor, Vic) and members of her ministry.

 

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31 May 2011

Confidence in the Speaker

Speaker Harry Jenkins (ALP, Scullin, Vic) names a member for continued interjections after having been warned. However, the motion to suspend the member is defeated.

Given the result, the Speaker states his intention to consider his position. But the Opposition leader immediately moves a motion of confidence in the Speaker, which is agreed to on the voices.

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June 2011

Solar panels fitted

A section of the roof of Parliament House and the roof of the Gardener's Compound are fitted with solar panels as part of a pilot project to assess how alternative technologies can be integrated into the building systems.

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14 June 2011

Visit by Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama visits Parliament House as a guest of the All-Parliamentary Group for Tibet.

 

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14 June 2011

Indigenous banner tabled in the Senate

During a Senate debate on the National Radioactive Waste Management Bill 2010, Senator Scott Ludlam (AG, WA) tables a banner covered in handprints and containing exhortations in three different Indigenous languages saying 'No waste dump at Muckaty'.

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20 June 2011

Address by New Zealand Prime Minister

John Key becomes the first New Zealand Prime Minister to address the Australian Parliament.

 

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10 August 2011

White powder security alert

Suspicious white powder is discovered in an envelope in the Parliament House ministerial wing. The building is locked down and 16 people isolated; however, the incident is identified as a hoax.

 

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22 August 2011

'Convoy of no confidence'

A 'Convoy of No Confidence' rally, involving 11 truck convoys from around Australia, gathers outside Parliament House.

The rally protests the Government's proposal to introduce a carbon pollution reduction scheme.

 

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25 August 2011

Condolences for the 22 July terrorist attacks in Norway

Parliament condemns the terrorist attacks in Norway where a gunman killed 77 people at a youth camp. Prime Minister Julia Gillard (ALP, Lalor, Vic) conveys the Parliament's deepest condolences to the victims, their families and the people of Norway.

 

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27 September 2011

A new Party

Bob Katter (KAP, Kennedy, Qld) registers Katter's Australian Party with the Australian Electoral Commission.

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4–5 October 2011

Tax summit

The Government holds a two-day tax forum for 200 participants at Parliament House.

 

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12 October 2011

Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation

The House of Representatives passes the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation, with crossbench support. The Clean Energy Bill 2011 and 17 related Bills pass the Senate on 8 November.

The package of legislation receives Royal Assent on 18 November. The Acts will be repealed in 2014.

 

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13 October 2011

Senate: Casual vacancy New South Wales

Arthur Sinodinos (LP, NSW) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Helen Coonan (LP, NSW) on 22 August.

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21 October 2011

Royal Visit

During her 16th visit to Australia, Her Majesty The Queen, together with His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, attends a reception held in the Great Hall.

Her Majesty is officially welcomed by the Prime Minister Julia Gillard (ALP, Lalor, Vic) and gives a speech to invited guests.

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17 November 2011

Address by US President

The United States President, Barack Obama, addresses the Parliament, focusing on the relationship between Australia and the United States.

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22 November 2011

Visit by the Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark

Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark are honoured at a lunch in the Great Hall during an official visit to Australia.

 

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24 November 2011

Speaker resigns

Harry Jenkins (ALP, Scullin, Vic) unexpectedly resigns as Speaker.

Peter Slipper (LP, Fisher, Qld) is elected unopposed as the new Speaker and Anna Burke (ALP, Chisholm, Vic) is elected Deputy Speaker. On accepting the Speakership, Mr Slipper resigns from the Liberal Party to become an Independent.

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4 December 2011

Removal of Executive veto for Territories

The Territories Self-Government Legislation Amendment (Disallowance and Amendment of Laws) Act enters into force, removing the power of the Commonwealth Cabinet or a minister to veto or change Territory laws. It is the first Bill introduced by the Greens passed by the federal Parliament.

 

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7 December 2011

Human Rights scrutiny

The Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Bill 2011 receives Royal Assent, requiring government legislation to be accompanied by a statement setting out how it complies with the seven main United Nations human rights treaties to which Australia is a party. The Act also establishes a Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights to examine Bills and existing Acts for their compatibility with these treaties.

 

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2012

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27 January 2012

Aboriginal protest

Protesters from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy burn the Australian flag on Parliament House's front steps, amid tensions over the Tent Embassy's future.

 

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7 February 2012

Condolence Motions for Sir Zelman Cowen CMG, GCVO, PC, QC

The House of Representatives and Senate move Condolence Motions in honour of Australia's 19th Governor-General, Sir Zelman Cowen, who died on 8 December 2011.

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13 February 2012

Seven Historical Documents of Truth and Justice

The National Sorry Day Committee presents Seven Historical Documents of Truth and Justice to the Australian Parliament in a special ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations. The documents are presented in a traditional message stick carved by Wiradjuri artist Duncan Smith.

 

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14 February 2012

Speaker's procession introduced

Speaker Peter Slipper (Ind, Fisher, Qld) reintroduces the Speaker's procession by walking through the Members' Hall before entering the chamber.

This tradition had ceased when Parliament moved to its permanent home in 1988.

 

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27 February 2012

Federation Chamber

The Main Committee of the House of Representatives is renamed the Federation Chamber.

The House of Representatives Committee on Procedure had originally recommended a name change in 2004 to avoid confusion with the main committee room in Parliament House.

The chamber's new name reflects the Procedure Committee's recommendation that it should reflect 'a significant aspect of Australian culture or parliamentary democracy'.

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6 March 2012

Senate: Casual vacancy New South Wales

Bob Carr (ALP, NSW) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Mark Arbib (ALP, NSW).

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13 March 2012

Australian floods

Prime Minister Julia Gillard (ALP, Lalor, Vic) acknowledges the considerable flooding that hit the eastern part of Australia, 'from Queensland right down to the Murray-Darling Basin'.

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16 April 2012    

Visit by President of Lebanon

Lebanon's President, Michel Suleiman attends a luncheon at Parliament House during his state visit to Australia.

 

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22 April 2012

Speaker steps aside

Speaker Peter Slipper (Ind, Fisher, Qld) states that he is standing aside as Speaker while he is investigated for alleged sexual harassment and fraud. Deputy Speaker, Anna Burke (ALP, Chisholm, Vic) will act as Speaker.

 

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29 April 2012

Change of Party representation

Having been suspended by the Labor Party, Craig Thomson (Ind, Dobell, NSW) sits as an Independent for the remainder of his term.

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2 May 2012

Senate: Casual vacancy Western Australia

Dean Smith (LP, WA) fills the Senate casual vacancy caused by the death of Senator Judith Adams (LP, WA).

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8 May 2012

Condolence Motions for Judith Adams

Condolence Motions in the House of Representatives and the Senate pay tribute to Senator Judith Adams who died in office on 31 March.

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10 May 2012

New Parliamentary Librarian

Dr Dianne Heriot is appointed as the 10th Commonwealth Parliamentary Librarian following the resignation of Roxanne Missingham in February 2012.

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28 May 2012

Visit by Prime Minister of Thailand

Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra attends a luncheon at Parliament House during her state visit to Australia.

 

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28 May 2012

New Secretary for the Department of Parliamentary Services

Carol Mills is appointed as the third Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services following the retirement of Alan Thompson.

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31 May 2012

Mabo Native Title decision remembered

The House of Representatives marks the 20th anniversary of the High Court's Mabo native title decision.

 

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20 June 2012

Senate: Casual vacancies Tasmania

Peter Whish-Wilson (AG, Tas) fills the Senate casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Bob Brown (AG, Tas) on 15 June.

Lin Thorp (ALP, Tas) fills the Senate casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Nick Sherry (ALP, Tas) on 1 June.

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23 July 2012

Visit by Prime Minister of Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai attends a luncheon at Parliament House during his state visit to Australia.

 

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23 July 2012

Parliamentary Budget Officer appointed

Phil Bowen is appointed as the inaugural Parliamentary Budget Officer. The role of the Budget Office is to provide Parliament with independent analysis of the budget, fiscal policy and financial implications of policy proposals.

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20 August 2012

Opposition leader suspended from the House

Opposition leader Tony Abbott (LP, Warringah, NSW) is suspended from the chamber for using un-parliamentary language during Question Time.

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21 August and 11 October 2012

Acknowledgement of Peter Norman, athlete

The Senate and House of Representatives acknowledge Peter Norman, silver medallist in the 200 metres at the 1968 Mexico Games who stood in solidarity, wearing an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge, during the medal ceremony as African–American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave the `black power' salute. Both chambers pass a motion acknowledging Norman's action in the cause of racial equality and apologising for the treatment he received on his return to Australia.

 

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22 August 2012

Visit by Prime Minister of Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo attends a luncheon at Parliament House during his state visit to Australia.

 

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5 September 2012

Senate: Casual vacancy South Australia

Anne Ruston (LP, SA) fills the Senate casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Mary Jo Fisher (LP, SA) on 14 August.

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9 October 2012

'Misogyny speech'

In response to Opposition leader Tony Abbott's (LP, Warringah, NSW) motion to remove the Speaker, Peter Slipper (Ind, Fisher, Qld), from office, Prime Minister Julia Gillard (ALP, Lalor, Vic) delivers the what has become widely known as the 'Misogyny Speech', declaring

… to the Leader of the Opposition: I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not. The government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man – not now, not ever.

The motion is defeated by one vote (69–70), but later in the day Mr Slipper resigns.

 

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9 October 2012

Change of Speaker

Deputy Speaker Anna Burke (ALP, Chisholm, Vic) is elected unopposed as Speaker following the resignation of Peter Slipper (Ind, Fisher, Qld).

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11 October 2012

Visit by Prime Minister of Singapore

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong attends a luncheon at Parliament House during his state visit to Australia.

 

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12 October 2012

Bali bombings national commemoration

Governor-General Quentin Bryce leads a National Commemoration in the Great Hall of Parliament House marking the 10th anniversary of the Bali bombings.

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24 October 2012

Extension of term for Governor-General

Governor-General Quentin Bryce is extended in the role for an additional six months until March 2014.

 

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10 November 2012

Visit by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall visit Canberra and attend a ceremony to mark the naming of Queen Elizabeth Terrace.

 

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12 November 2012

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Prime Minister Julia Gillard (ALP, Lalor, Vic) announces a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Governor-General Quentin Bryce issues letters patent for the Commission on 11 January 2013.

The Royal Commission's 17-volume final report is released on 15 December 2017 and includes over 400 recommendations.

 

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26 November 2012

Apology to victims of sexual abuse in the Australian Defence Force

Minister for Defence Stephen Smith (ALP, Perth, WA) apologises on behalf of the Government to Australian Defence Force members who suffered sexual or other forms of abuse in the course of their service.

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28 November 2012

New rules for media

The Presiding Officers issue new rules for media-related activity in Parliament House and its precincts. The rules specify locations in public and private areas where media-related activity is prohibited, permitted, or permitted subject to approval.

 

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2013

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5 February 2013

Australian natural disasters

Prime Minister Julia Gillard (ALP, Lalor, Vic) acknowledges the tragic deaths of Australians in recent flooding and bushfire events across the country. Seven people were killed in flooding in Queensland, one resident in a bushfire in Victoria, and two firefighters died, one in Tasmania and another in Seaton, Victoria.

 

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13 February 2013

Indigenous constitutional recognition

On the fifth anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations, the House of Representatives passes the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Bill 2012. The Bill acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have 'occupied this land from time immemorial' and 'seeks to foster momentum for a referendum for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders'.

 

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26 February 2013

Condolence Motions for Joan Child AO

Condolence Motions in the Parliament pay tribute to Joan Child (ALP, Henty, Vic), the first women elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives, who died on 23 February. She served as Speaker from 1986 to 1989.

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12 March 2013 

Commemorating the naming of Canberra

Governor-General Quentin Bryce and Prime Minister Julia Gillard (ALP Lalor, Vic) take part in a ceremony to celebrate Canberra's centenary. The event is held on the lawns of Parliament House near the site where Lady Denman announced the name of the new federal capital.

 

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13 March 2013

Tweeting from the House

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Anna Burke (ALP, Chisholm, Vic), decides to allow members 'tweeting' in the chamber. This ruling responds to the Manager of Opposition Business in the House, Christopher Pyne (LP, Sturt, SA), asking that a government backbencher withdraw a comment made on Twitter during Question Time.

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 13 March 2013

The centenary of the naming of Canberra

The Senate congratulates Canberra and its citizens on their centenary. The resolution recognises 'Canberra, through its national institutions, as a showcase of the hopes and aspirations, milestones and achievements of the Australian nation'.

 

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18 March 2013

Visit by the President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar

Myanmar's President Thein Sein visits Canberra and meets with Prime Minister Julia Gillard (ALP, Lalor, Vic). The Prime Minister notes that it is the first visit by a head of state from Myanmar since 1974.

 

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21 March 2013

National Apology for forced adoptions

In a ceremony in the Great Hall of Parliament House, Prime Minister Julia Gillard (ALP, Lalor, Vic) apologises on behalf of the nation to those affected by forced adoption policies.

Motions of apology are moved in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. The Government also tables its response to the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee report, Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices.

Between 2010–12 governments of all states and the Australian Capital Territory issued apologies to those affected by forced adoption.

 

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21 March 2013

National Disability Insurance Scheme

The Parliament passes the National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill 2013, clearing the way for Disability Care Australia to be trialled from July 2013.

 

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30 March 2013

Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Amendment Act 2013

The Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Amendment Bill 2013 receives Royal Assent, giving the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly the power to independently determine its own size (by enactment agreed to by a two-thirds majority of the Assembly).

 

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9 May 2013

Parliament House turns 25

The 25th anniversary of permanent Parliament House's official opening is marked by a morning tea held in the Great Hall to acknowledge those who have worked at Parliament House.

The anniversary coincides with the Centenary of Canberra's celebrations, and the centenary organisers commission a work by the Australian Ballet dedicated to Romaldo Giurgola's Parliament House. The artistic director works in consultation with Parliament House architect Romaldo Giurgola, using the design principles of the building to shape the ballet.

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9 May 2013

Australia's first triangular coin to celebrate Parliament House's 25th anniversary

Australia's first triangular coin is minted to mark the 25th Anniversary of Parliament House. Launched at Australian Parliament House, the $5 coin depicts Parliament House, including its distinctive triangular Flagmast. The Royal Australian Mint produces 10,000 of these commemorative coins. It also produces a special 20-cent coin featuring Australian Parliament House with Old Parliament House in the foreground.

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14 and 16 May 2013

Condolence Motions for Baroness Margaret Thatcher

The House of Representatives and the Senate move Condolence Motions for former UK Prime Minister, Baroness Margaret Thatcher who died on 8 April, aged 87.

 

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15 May 2013

Senate: Casual vacancy Western Australia

Sue Lines (ALP, WA) fills the Senate casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Chris Evans (ALP, WA) on 12 April.

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28 May 2013

Questions directed to non-government members

Following Rob Oakeshott's (Ind, Lyne, NSW) question to both the Prime Minister and Opposition leader, Anthony Albanese (ALP, Grayndler, NSW) moves a Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders so that Opposition leader Tony Abbott (LP, Warringah, NSW) can address the House.

Speaker Anna Burke (ALP, Chisholm, Vic) rules that the Opposition would not be able to answer the question but would have the opportunity to address the House after Question Time.

 

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24 June 2013

ParlView launched on APH website

The Department of Parliamentary Services launches ParlView enabling people to watch, search and download parliamentary broadcasts, special parliamentary events and press conferences, and historical audio-visual material via the Australian Parliament website.

 

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24 June 2013

Bill to recognise local government in the Constitution

The Constitution Alteration (Local Government) 2013 Bill passes both Houses of Parliament. The legislation authorises a referendum for electors to vote on the proposal to amend section 96 of the Constitution.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard (ALP, Lalor, Vic) had announced on 9 May 2013 the Government's intention for a referendum to be held concurrently with the federal election on 14 September 2013. However, the date of the general election is changed to 7 September and the referendum does not proceed.

 

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26 June 2013

Fiftieth anniversary of Yirrkala bark petitions

Prime Minister Julia Gillard (ALP, Lalor, Vic) and Opposition leader Tony Abbott (LP, Warringah, NSW) acknowledge the 50th anniversary of the Yirrkala bark petitions presented by the Yolngu people asserting their tittle to their traditional lands. The petitions seek redress for the excise of over 300 square kilometres of their lands without consultation to grant leases for bauxite mining, and lead to the establishment of the Select Committee on Grievances of Yirrkala Aborigines, Arnhem Land Reserve.

Whilst they were not the first claims to be made by Indigenous groups, the Yirrkala bark petitions are the first traditional documents to be recognised by the Commonwealth Parliament and, as such, they represent documentary recognition of Indigenous people in Australian law.

Today the Yirrkala Petitions are on public display at Parliament House.

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27 June 2013

Kevin Rudd becomes Prime Minister

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (ALP, Griffith, Qld) is sworn in as Prime Minister after defeating Julia Gillard (ALP, Lalor, Vic) in a leadership challenge. This follows two unsuccessful challenges (on 27 February 2012 and 21 March 2013).

He is the first former Prime Minister to be returned to the position since Robert Menzies (LP, Kooyong, Vic) in 1949.

Anthony Albanese (ALP, Grayndler, NSW) is elected as Deputy Prime Minister.

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29 June 2013

Changes to laws for migrant workers

The Migration Amendment (Temporary Sponsored Visas) Bill 2013 receives Royal Assent. The new law amends the Migration Act 1958 to strengthen regulation of the 457-visa system.

 

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1 July 2013

New political party

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon (NXT, SA) registers the Nick Xenophon Group (subsequently known as the Nick Xenophon Team) party with the AEC.

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1 July 2013

Composition of the second Rudd Ministry

The ALP leadership changes also result in a substantial ministerial reshuffle. Of the 42 members of the second Rudd ministry, 13 (31%) are women, six of these are members of Cabinet.

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8 July 2013

Visit by President of Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste's President Taur Matan Ruak attends a luncheon at Parliament House during his state visit to Australia.

 

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5 August 2013

Prorogation of 43rd Parliament

The Official Secretary to the Governor-General reads the proclamation of Governor-General Quentin Bryce proroguing the 43rd Parliament and dissolving the House of Representatives.

 

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21 August 2013

Senate: Casual vacancies New South Wales and Victoria

Sam Dastyari (ALP, NSW) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Matt Thistlethwaite (ALP, NSW) on 9 August to successfully contest the seat of Kingsford Smith (NSW).

Mehmet Tillem (ALP, Vic) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of David Feeney (ALP, Vic) to successfully contest the seat of Batman (Vic).

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24 August 2013

Parliament House Open Day 2013

Parliament House opens its doors to the more than 8,000 members of the public as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations. Visitors can walk from the ceremonial main front doors right through to the Prime Minister's courtyard. The Open Day features a visit by the principal design architect, Romaldo Giurgola, as well as artists talking about their contributions to the making of the building.

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7 September 2013

2013 federal election

The Liberal/National Coalition led by Tony Abbott (LP, Warringah, NSW) wins government, its tally of 90 seats being its highest since 1996, the last time it won government from Opposition. The ALP holds 55 seats, its lowest count since 1996.

Disturbingly for electoral administrators, the 5.9% informal vote was the second highest on record while historically low levels of voter turnout continued.

The new Palmer United Party returns one member (Clive Palmer, PUP, Fairfax, Qld) and three senators (who will take their seats on 1 July 2014): Jacqui Lambie (PUP, Tas); Glenn Lazarus (PUP, Qld) and Dio Wang (PUP, WA).

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18 Sept 2013

Composition of the Abbott ministry

The Abbott ministry is sworn in by Governor-General Quentin Bryce.

Of the five members of the Abbott Ministry, eight (17%) are women, and of these, two are members of Cabinet. The ministry comprises 38 Liberals and seven Nationals.

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2 October 2013

Visit by the Prime Minister of New Zealand

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key meets with ministers at Parliament House during his official visit to Australia.

 

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13 October 2013

Governor-General offers resignation over Labor leadership ballot

Governor-General Quentin Bryce offers her resignation to avoid any perception of bias given her son-in-law, Bill Shorten's (ALP, Maribyrnong, Vic) candidacy for ALP Leader. Mr Abbott declines her resignation on the basis that 'she will retire in March next year and the Government commands the House of Representatives with a significant margin'.

 

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13 October 2013

Change of ALP leadership

Bill Shorten (ALP, Maribyrnong, Vic) becomes leader of the Australian Labor Party, defeating Anthony Albanese (ALP Grayndler, Vic). Tanya Plibersek (ALP, Sydney, NSW) is elected Deputy Leader.

Kevin Rudd (ALP, Griffith, Qld), who stood down from the leadership following the May election, resigns from Parliament on 22 November 2013.

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12 November 2013

Opening of 44th Parliament

Governor-General Quentin Bryce opens the 44th Parliament.

A Welcome to Country ceremony is held in the Great Hall before MPs, Senators from the ACT, NT, and those filling casual vacancies, are sworn in.

Bronwyn Bishop (LP, Mackellar, NSW) is elected as the 29th Speaker of the House of Representatives.

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12 November 2013

First Indigenous woman elected to Commonwealth Parliament

Senator Nova Peris (ALP, NT) takes her seat in the Senate. She is the first Indigenous woman to be elected to the Australian Parliament.

Prior to her swearing-in, Senator Peris receives a traditional Indigenous blessing. She makes her first speech the next day.

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13 November 2013

Senate: Casual vacancy New South Wales

Deb O'Neill (ALP, NSW) fills the Senate casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Bob Carr (ALP, NSW) on 24 October 2013.

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28 November 2013

Visit by Myanmar's Opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar's Opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, visits Parliament House and meets with Prime Minister Tony Abbott (LP, Warringah, NSW).

 

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9 December 2013

Condolence Motions for Nelson Mandela

Condolence Motions in the House of Representatives and Senate pay tribute to former South African President, Nelson Mandela who died on 5 December, aged 95.

 

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12 December 2013

Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program

Attorney-General, George Brandis (LP, Qld), and Environment Minister, Greg Hunt (LP, Flinders, Vic), announce a Royal Commission into the home insulation program, during which four people died.

The Commission's final report, authored by Ian Hanger QC, is tabled on 29 August 2014.

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31 December 2013

Retirement of the Clerk of the House of Representatives

The House of Representatives and the Senate pay tribute to retiring Clerk of the House of Representatives, Bernard Wright. The new Clerk, former Deputy Clerk, David Elder, commences in the role on 1 January 2014.

 

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2014

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8 February 2014

Griffith by-election

Terri Butler (ALP, Griffith, Qld) wins the by-election triggered by the resignation of Kevin Rudd (ALP, Griffith, Qld).

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11 February 2014

Senate: Casual vacancy Queensland

Barry O'Sullivan (NP, Qld) fills the Senate casual vacancy following Barnaby Joyce's (NP, Qld) resignation on 8 August 2013 to successfully contest the House of Representatives seat of New England (NSW).

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13 February 2014

100th Victoria Cross for Australia awarded

Prime Minister Tony Abbott MP (LP, Warringah, NSW) informs the House of Representatives that the 100th Victoria Cross for Australia has been awarded posthumously to the late Corporal Cameron Baird VC, MG.

 

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18 February 2014

High Court declares void the WA half-Senate election

The High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, declares void the 2013 half-Senate election in WA, the first time that this has occurred.

This follows the loss of 1,370 ballots, leading the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to lodge a petition on 15 November 2013 seeking an order to void the election of six WA senators. An AEC-commissioned inquiry identifies significant and systemic shortfalls and failings in Senate ballot paper security, storage and handling in WA.

The Electoral Commissioner, Ed Killesteyn, and the Australian Electoral Officer for Western Australia, Peter Kramer, resign shortly after the Court's decision.

 

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5 March 2014

Censure Motion against Assistant Minister for Health

The Senate censures Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash (NP, NSW) for misleading it over a conflict of interest within her office, failing to comply with an order for production of documents, or to account to the Senate for her actions.

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13 March 2014

Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption

Governor-General Quentin Bryce issues letters patent establishing a Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption. Justice Dyson Heydon is appointed Commissioner.

The Commission's six-volume final report is delivered to the Governor-General on 28 December 2015, and tabled in Parliament on 30 December. Commissioner Heydon also submits the report to the Governors of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania.

 

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19 March 2014

Ministerial accountability: Assistant Treasurer stands aside

Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos (LP, NSW) stands aside following public revelations about his interests in Australian Water Holdings, a company being investigated by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). He formally resigns as Assistant Treasurer in December 2014 pending the outcome of the ICAC inquiry. The inquiry report, released in 2017, makes no findings against him.

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28 March 2014

New Governor-General sworn in

Peter Cosgrove is sworn in as Australia's 26th Governor-General and made a Knight of the Order of Australia. He succeeds Quentin Bryce who was appointed Dame of the Order of Australia on 25 March.

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28 March 2014

Motion of no-confidence in Speaker

The Manager of Opposition Business, Tony Burke (ALP, Watson, NSW), moves a no-confidence motion against the Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop (LP, Mackellar, NSW). The motion accuses her of favouring Government members, rather than acting as 'the custodian of the rights and privileges of elected Members of the Parliament'. The motion is unsuccessful (83–51).

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5 April 2014

Western Australian Senate election

Following the voiding of the previous election, WA goes to the polls to elect six senators in a half-Senate election. Two days earlier, the AEC admits failing to properly secure ballot papers at a mobile pre-polling booth.

The results are announced by the AEC on 29 April 2014.

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24 April 2014

Royal reception 2014

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend a Parliament House reception during their Australian tour.

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26 May 2014

'Pipe bomb' produced at Senate Estimates hearing

Senator Bill Heffernan (LP, NSW) produces a fake 'pipe bomb' at a Senate Estimates hearing to argue that '[t]his building is no longer secure' under new security arrangements.

Senator Bill Heffernan with fake pipe bomb at Senate Estimates hearing, Image source: ParlView, 26 May 2014ParlView, 26 May 2014" aria-expanded="false">

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27 May 2014

Pacific nations call on Parliament to act on climate change

A delegation from Kiribati, Tuvalu and Papua New Guinea sing on the Parliament House lawns, urging parliamentary action on climate change, including carbon emissions reductions and assistance to their countries.

 

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8 June 2014

The Federation Chamber turns 20

The Federation Chamber celebrates its 20th anniversary. On 22 June 2015, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Procedure report 'Role of the Federation Chamber: Celebrating 20 years of operation' becomes the first report tabled in the Federation Chamber.

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18 June 2014

A matter of privilege: the use of CCTV footage

The Department of Parliamentary Services' use of CCTV footage in an internal disciplinary matter is referred to the Senate Privileges Committee. The Committee's Terms of Reference are to inquire whether there was any improper interference with a senator's duties and whether anyone was disciplined in connection with providing information to a senator.

The Privileges Committee tables its report on 5 December 2014 and the Senate President tables a response on 2 March 2015.

 

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1 July 2014

New political parties

Two new political parties are represented in the federal parliament as Senators David Leyonhjelm (LDP, NSW) and Ricky Muir (AMEP, Vic) are sworn in. Both were elected in the 2013 federal election.

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7 July 2014

New President of the Senate

Senator Stephen Parry (LP, Tas) becomes the 24th President of the Senate.

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8 July 2014

Address by the Prime Minister of Japan

Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, addresses both Houses of Parliament during his official visit to Australia.

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17 July 2014

Statements on the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

Prime Minister Tony Abbott (LP, Warringah, NSW) addresses the parliament on the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

 

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19–22 July 2014

Malaysia Airlines MH17 tragedy

Prime Minister Tony Abbott (LP, Warringah, NSW) announces that the Australian flag will be flown at half-mast on all Australian Government establishments as a mark of respect to the Australians killed on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. The flight crashed on 17 July 2014 after being shot down, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board, including 38 Australians.

On 22 July 2014 a ceremony takes place at Parliament House for the official signing of the Condolence Book. A National Day of Mourning and National Memorial Service for the victims is planned for 7 August 2014.

On 26 August 2014, Prime Minister Tony Abbott (LP, Warringah, NSW) moves a Condolence Motion in the House of Representatives.

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4 September 2014

Change of Party representation

Senator John Madigan (Ind, Vic) informs the Senate that he has resigned from the Democratic Labour Party and will continue his term as an Independent.

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7 September 2014

Condolence Motion for Harry Evans

The Senate pays tribute to its former Clerk Harry Evans who died on 7 September. Evans was the longest-serving Clerk of the Senate, holding that office from 1988 to 2009.

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21 September 2014

Increased security at Parliament House

Following an urgent safety review of Parliament House, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) assumes responsibility for internal and external security amid heightened security concerns. The increased security measures follow the National Terrorism Public Alert being raised from medium to high on 12 September, the first increase since the system's introduction in 2003.

 

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22 September 2014

National security

Prime Minister Tony Abbott (LP, Warringah, NSW) updates the Parliament on developing challenges to national security. The Opposition leader, Bill Shorten (ALP, Maribyrnong, Vic), makes a statement in reply.

 

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24 September 2014

Counter-Terrorism Bill introduced

Attorney-General George Brandis (LP, Qld) introduces the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014 to the Senate. The Bill seeks to respond to the threat posed by Australians engaging in, and returning from, conflicts in foreign states, including by implementing recommendations made in a recent review of Australia's counter-terrorism laws.

The Senate passes the Bill, incorporating the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security's recommended amendments on 29 October and the House also does the following day.

 

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24 September 2014

Recommendations on use of electronic devices

The House of Representatives Procedure Committee finalises its report on the Use of electronic devices in the Chamber and Federation Chamber. The report recommends updated guidelines and clarifies electronic device use in the chamber.

 

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30 September 2014

Guest lecture by Speaker of the House of Commons

The UK House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow, delivers a lecture in Parliament House, addressing the challenges that modern parliaments and representatives face in the digital revolution and 'disruptive' technology era.

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2 October 2014

Presiding Officers' decision on 'facial coverings' in Parliament House

The Presiding Officers introduce interim security measures to ban 'facial-coverings' from being worn in certain areas of Parliament House.

On 20 October the Presiding Officers update this to clarify that people wearing facial coverings would be visually identified on entry, 'thereby enabling [them] to move from that point freely into the public portions of the building, including the chamber galleries'.

 

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21 and 27 October 2014

Condolence Motions for the Hon Gough Whitlam AC QC

Condolence Motions in the House of Representatives and the Senate pay tribute to former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam (ALP, Werriwa, NSW) who died on 21 October.

Mr Whitlam served as Australia's 21st Prime Minister before being dismissed from office by Governor-General Sir John Kerr on 11 November 1975.

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23 October 2014

Terrorist attacks in Canada

Prime Minister Tony Abbott (LP, Warringah, NSW) makes a statement in the House on two terrorist attacks in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa, Canada, the latter involving an attack on the national Parliament.

 

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23 October 2014

Statement by Speaker regarding Parliament House security

The Speaker, Bronwyn Bishop (LP, Mackellar, NSW), makes a statement concerning Parliament House's security arrangements following the terrorist attack on the Canadian Parliament on 22 October.

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6 November 2014

Visit by the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte visits Parliament House and meets with Prime Minister Tony Abbott (LP, Warringah, NSW).

 

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14–19 November 2014

World leaders visit

Coinciding with the 2014 G20 Leaders' Summit in Brisbane, the Parliament holds joint meetings for addresses by:

  • David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom;
  • Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of the Republic of India; and
  • Xi Jinping, President of the People's Republic of China.

François Hollande, President of the French Republic, also visits Parliament House during this time.

 

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24 November 2014

Change of Party representation

Senator Jacqui Lambie (Ind, Tas) informs the Senate that she has resigned from the Palmer United Party and that she will continue her term as an Independent.

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26 November 2014

Changes to Security Management Board for Parliament House

Speaker Bronwyn Bishop (LP, Mackellar, NSW) introduces the Parliamentary Service Amendment Bill 2014. The Bill amends the Security Management Board's composition to include the Australian Federal Police. During the Bill's second reading in the Senate, the President notes that the Presiding Officers maintain authority for Parliament House security decision-making. The Bill passes both Houses on 26 March 2015.

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26 November 2014

Censure Motion against Minister for Defence

The Senate censures the Minister for Defence, Senator David Johnston (LP, WA), for comments that he would not trust the Government's shipbuilder, the Australian Submarine Corporation, to 'build a canoe'.

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2015

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9 February 2015

Martin Place siege remembered

Prime Minister Tony Abbott (LP, Warringah, NSW) acknowledges the courage of those held during the Martin Place Lindt Café siege in December 2014, and extends sympathies to the families and friends of those killed. The Senate also expresses its sympathy to the victims and their families.

 

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9 and 23 February 2015

Parliament marks the release of journalist Peter Greste

Motions in the Senate and House of Representatives celebrate the release of Peter Greste after being held for 400 days in an Egyptian prison.

 

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10 February 2015

Enhanced security arrangements at Parliament House

Bronwyn Bishop (LP, Mackellar, NSW) announces her agreement to an armed AFP presence in the attendants' booth adjacent to the chamber.

 

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12 February 2015

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran: call for sentence commutation

The House of Representatives and Senate pass motions calling on the Indonesian government to 'commute [Andrew Chan's and Myuran Sukumaran's] sentences to an appropriate term of imprisonment'.

Some 100 parliamentarians also sign a letter to the Indonesian Ambassador requesting that the sentences be commuted. Despite all efforts, the two men are executed on 29 April 2015.

 

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23 February 2015

State visit by the King and Queen of Norway

Norway's King and Queen dine at Parliament House during their official visit to Australia.

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3 March 2015

Senate censures the Attorney-General

The Senate censures Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis (LP, Qld), for his conduct towards the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs. A similar censure motion in the House of Representatives on 25 February 2015 was unsuccessful.

 

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5 March 2015

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Act 2013 extended

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition (Sunset Extension) Bill 2015 passes both houses. The Bill amends the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Act 2013 (Cth) (Act of Recognition) to ensure that it continues to operate until a referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution can be held.

 

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16 March 2015

Change of Party representation

Senator Glenn Lazarus (Ind, Qld) informs the Senate of his resignation from the Palmer United Party and his decision to continue his term as an Independent.

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18 March 2015

Visit by the Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung visits Parliament House during his state visit to Australia.

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19 March 2015

Crown succession law changes

The Succession to the Crown Bill 2015 is passed by both Houses. The legislation ends the system of male primogeniture so that the order of succession is determined by the order of birth. This is consistent with changes to the 2013 United Kingdom Act. The Act receives Royal Assent on 24 March and enters into force on 26 March, when the changes to succession to the Crown across all the realms came into effect simultaneously.

 

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23 March 2015

Condolence Motions for the Hon Malcolm Fraser CH, AC

Condolence Motions in the House of Representatives and the Senate pay tribute to former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser (LP, Wannon, Vic) who died on 20 March, aged 84 years.

Mr Fraser served as Australia's 22nd Prime Minister from 1975 to 1983, taking office after the Whitlam Government's dismissal.

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24 March 2015

Member for Bowman is suspended from the House

Andrew Laming (LP, Bowman, Qld) is suspended for disorderly conduct. In the Federation Chamber the previous evening, Mr Laming poured crude oil over his hands, spilling it onto the desk and chamber carpet. Mr Laming subsequently pays $256 for the costs of the repairs.

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25 March 2015

Senate: Casual vacancy ACT

Katy Gallagher (ALP, ACT) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Kate Lundy (ALP, ACT) on 24 March.

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26 March 2015

Parliament House security upgrade

Parliament approves proposed security upgrades for Parliament House, including a perimeter fence, gatehouse at the Ministerial Wing entrance, and additional vehicle bollards.

 

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21 April 2015

Secretary leaves Department of Parliamentary Services

Carol Mills's appointment as Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services is terminated. The Parliamentary Librarian acts in the position until a new Secretary is appointed.

 

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6 May 2015

Senate: Casual vacancy New South Wales

Jenny McAllister (ALP, NSW) fills the Senate casual vacancy caused by the resignation of John Faulkner (ALP, NSW) on 6 February. The delay in the senator's appointment is due to the NSW Parliament being in recess ahead of the state election in March 2015.

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6 May 2015

New leader for the Australian Greens

Richard Di Natale (AG, Vic) is elected as leader of the Australian Greens following the resignation of Christine Milne (AG, Tas).

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12 May 2015

Centenary of Gallipoli: motion by the Prime Minister

Prime Minister Tony Abbott (LP, Warringah, NSW) acknowledges the 100th anniversary of the Anzac Gallipoli landings on 25 April 1915.

 

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14 May 2015

New political party

Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie (JLN, Tas) registers the Jacqui Lambie Network party with the AEC. Senator Lambie was previously aligned with the Palmer United Party until her resignation on 24 November 2014.

 

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21 May 2015

Senate: Casual vacancy Queensland

Joanna Lindgren (LP, Qld) fills the Senate casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Brett Mason (LP, Qld) on 15 April.

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27 May 2015

Remonstrance from the Norfolk Legislative Assembly

The Speaker of Norfolk Island's Legislative Assembly, David Buffett, delivers a Remonstrance to the Commonwealth Parliament, setting out the Assembly's grievances regarding the removal of self-government. The Norfolk Island Legislation Amendment Act 2015, which received Royal Assent on 26 May, replaces the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly with an Advisory Council.

 

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11 June 2015

New Commonwealth Auditor-General

Grant Hehir is appointed as the 15th Auditor-General, replacing Ian McPhee.

 

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15 June 2015

Magna Carta birthday celebrations

Parliament House hosts the first event in a worldwide program of celebrations to mark the 800th anniversary of the 1215 Magna Carta. Parliament House is home to one of only four known surviving manuscripts of the 1297 Inspeximus issue of the Magna Carta, the only copy in the southern hemisphere.

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17 June 2015

First time former opposing state/territory leaders in the same chamber

Former ACT Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher (ALP, ACT), gives her first speech in the Senate.

Senator Gallagher's appointment to the Senate marks the first time that a Premier or Chief Minister has faced their former Opposition counterpart in the same chamber in the same Parliament. Senator Zed Seselja (LP, ACT) was the ACT Opposition leader (2007–13) before resigning to stand for the Senate at the 2013 election.

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25 June 2015

Report on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples publishes its final report, the key recommendation being that 'a referendum be held on the matter of recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution'.

 

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9 July 2015

New political party

Independent Senator Glenn Lazarus (GLT, Qld) registers the Glenn Lazarus Team party with the AEC. Senator Lazarus was previously aligned with the Palmer United Party until his resignation on 12 March 2015.

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17 July 2015

National memorial service marking the anniversary of the downing of flight MH17

A memorial service is held to commemorate the first anniversary of the tragic loss of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and a memorial plaque is unveiled in the eastern formal gardens of Parliament House.

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2 August 2015

Resignation of the Speaker

Bronwyn Bishop (LP, Mackellar, NSW) resigns as Speaker, following sustained criticism of her travel entitlements usage. It is the third resignation of a Speaker since 2011, and the ninth since 1901.

That same day Prime Minister Tony Abbott (LP, Warringah, NSW) announces a review into the parliamentary entitlements system. The report is completed in February 2016.

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10 August 2015

Condolence Motions for Don Randall

Condolence Motions in the House of Representatives and the Senate pay tribute to Don Randall (LP, Canning, WA) who died on 21 July. In the Senate, his death is marked by a minute's silence and several speeches in the adjournment debate.

A white rose is placed on Mr Randall's desk.

Mr Randall represented Canning since 2001 and was previously the Member for Swan (1996–98).

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10 August 2015

A new Speaker of the House of Representatives

Tony Smith (LP, Casey, Vic) is elected unopposed as the new Speaker, the 32nd person to hold this office.

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17 August 2015

Australia Post issues new Parliament House stamp

Senate President Stephen Parry (LP, Tas) launches an Australia, New Zealand and Singapore joint stamp issue, marking 50 years of trilateral relations between the three countries.

Designed by Sonia Young, the stamps feature each country's parliament house.

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19 August 2015

Senate: Casual vacancy Tasmania

Nick McKim (AG, Tas) fills the Senate casual vacancy following Christine Milne's (AG, Tas) resignation on 10 August.

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20 August 2015

Netball World Cup

Parliament House hosts a reception for the Australian Diamonds netball team, following their World Cup victory on 16 August.

 

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21 August 2015

Anniversary of parliamentary broadcasting

The Senate celebrates the 25th anniversary of its first televised proceedings.

 

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15 September 2015

A new Prime Minister

Malcolm Turnbull (LP, Wentworth, NSW) is sworn in as Australia's 29th Prime Minister, having defeated Tony Abbott (LP, Warringah, NSW) in a leadership ballot, 54 votes to 44.

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16 September 2015

National Disability Insurance Scheme agreement

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (LP, Wentworth, NSW) announces agreements between the Commonwealth and the NSW and Victorian governments to roll out the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in those states (with negotiations with other states and territories to continue).

 

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19 September 2015

Canning by-election

Andrew Hastie (LP, Canning, WA) wins the by-election triggered by the death of sitting member Don Randall (LP, Canning, WA).

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21 September 2015

Turnbull Ministry

The Governor-General swears in the Turnbull ministry. Of the 41 Ministers, nine are women (22%), six of whom are part of the 29-member Cabinet.

Ken Wyatt (LP, Hasluck, WA) is appointed as Assistant Minister for Health, and is the first Indigenous Australian to be appointed to the Ministry. Wyatt Roy (LP, Longman, Qld) becomes the youngest-ever Commonwealth minister (25) when he is commissioned Assistant Minister for Immigration. Marise Payne (LP, NSW) becomes the first woman to be appointed Minister for Defence (noting that women have previously held Defence-related ministries/assistant ministries).

As a Coalition, the ministry incorporates 34 Liberals (83%) and seven Nationals (17%).

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22 September 2015

Senate: Casual vacancy South Australia

Robert Simms (AG, SA) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Penny Wright (AG, SA) on 10 September.

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22 October 2015

Electronic petitions

Speaker Tony Smith (LP, Casey, Vic) informs members that the Departments of the House of Representatives and Parliamentary Services are working to develop an electronic petitions website and system, foreshadowing changes to the House Standing Orders.

Senate Standing Orders already enable the presentation of electronic petitions in that chamber (SO 70).

The Standing Orders of the House will be amended in 2016 to provide for an electronic petitions system.

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9 November 2015

House of Representatives trials new arrangements for Question Time

The House begins trialling new Question Time arrangements providing private government members time to ask ministers' constituency questions. The trial continues until the end of the year.

 

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15 November 2015

Parliament House illuminated for France

Parliament House is illuminated with the French Tricolour as a mark of solidarity in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November. The Parliament House illumination continues until 22 November.

When Parliament resumes on 23 November, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (LP, Wentworth, NSW), and Opposition leader Bill Shorten (ALP, Maribyrnong, Vic) express their condolences.

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18 November 2015

The 'Big Picture' on the move

Tom Roberts's painting The Opening of the first Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia by HRH Duke of Cornwall and York (later King George V) on May 9, 1901, is removed from the Main Committee Room foyer and loaned to the National Gallery of Australia for a Tom Roberts exhibition (December 2015 to March 2016).

This is the first time the (400kg/4m high) painting has left Parliament House since its installation in 1988.

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25 November 2015

Tjuringa gifted to the Parliament and the Australian people by the Warlpiri people

On behalf of the Parliament, the Presiding Officers accept a gifted tjuringa (a traditional Indigenous ceremonial object). The Warlpiri people of Yuendumu had originally gifted the tjuringa to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Ian Viner (LP, Stirling, WA), in 1978 in exchange for the title deed to their traditional lands in the Northern Territory.

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5 December 2015

North Sydney by-election

Trent Zimmerman (LP, North Sydney, NSW) wins the by-election triggered by the resignation of Joe Hockey (LP, North Sydney, NSW) on 23 October.

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14 December 2015

New Secretary of DPS

Rob Stefanic is appointed as the Secretary of the Department of Parliamentary Services.

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2016

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2 February 2016

Infants in the House

Standing Order 257 is amended to allow members to care for infants in the House of Representatives and Federation Chambers. Previously, a member caring for a child during a division was only able to cast a proxy vote.

 

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2 February 2016

First Member of the House to have an office on the Senate side of Parliament House

Trent Zimmerman (LP, North Sydney, NSW) becomes the first MP to have an office located on the Senate side of the building. This is a temporary measure pending space becoming available in the House of Representatives wing.

 

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11 February 2016

New Nationals leadership team

Barnaby Joyce (NP, New England, NSW) becomes the new Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Nationals, following Warren Truss's (NP, Wide Bay, Qld) retirement announcement. Senator Fiona Nash (NP, NSW) becomes Deputy Leader, the first woman to hold the position.

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18 February 2016

New ministry sworn in; number of women in Cabinet increases

The Turnbull ministry is sworn in. The reshuffle follows the resignation of Stuart Robert (LP, Fadden, Qld), and announcements by Warren Truss (NP, Wide Bay, Qld) and Andrew Robb (LP, Goldstein, Vic) of their forthcoming retirements.

The number of women in Cabinet increases from five to six with Fiona Nash's (NP, NSW) elevation to Minister for Rural Health, Regional Communications and Regional Development. The total number of women in the ministry rises from nine to 10 with Jane Prentice (LP, Ryan, Qld) becoming Assistant Minister for Disability Services.

 

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22 February 2016

Condolence Motions for Bob Halverson OBE

Condolence Motions in the House of Representatives and the Senate pay tribute to former Speaker Bob Halverson (LP, Casey, Vic), who died on 9 February 2016. He served as Speaker from 1996 to 1998.

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29 February 2016

25th anniversary of the First Gulf War

The Parliament marks the 25th anniversary of the First Gulf War, paying tribute to the men and women who served in the Persian Gulf in 1990 and 1991.

Dan Tehan delivers a ministerial statement on the 25th anniversary of the First Gulf War, Image source: ParlView, 29 February 2016ParlView, 29 February 2016" aria-expanded="false">

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9 March 2016

Senate: Casual vacancy Victoria

James Paterson (LP, Vic) fills the Senate casual vacancy created by the resignation of Michael Ronaldson (LP, Vic) on 28 February.

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17–18 March 2016

Longest continuous Senate sitting day

The Senate sits continuously for 28 hours and 56 minutes debating the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016. The longest Senate sitting day (with breaks) is 66 hours and 18 minutes from 16–21 December 1993.

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18 March 2016

Passage of the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill

The Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016, which abolishes group voting tickets and allows for optional above-the-line preferential voting, passes both Houses.

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18 March 2016

Passage of the Territories Legislation Amendment Bill

The Territories Legislation Amendment Bill 2016, extending all Commonwealth laws to Norfolk Island (unless expressly provided otherwise) and requiring eligible Norfolk Island residents to enrol and vote in federal elections, passes both Houses.

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21 March 2016

Request to prorogue Parliament

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (LP, Wentworth, NSW) requests Parliament be prorogued on Friday 15 April and summoned to sit again on Monday 18 April.

The Prime Minister states that Parliament is being prorogued and then recalled in order to consider two sets of legislation:

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15 April 2016

Parliament is prorogued

Proroguing a Parliament, in effect, terminates the current session of Parliament without dissolving either House, therefore without requiring an election. As a result of prorogation, all business on the Senate and House notice papers lapses.

Parliament was last prorogued and then recalled before an election in 1977 to allow the Queen to open Parliament.

Proroguing the Parliament with the express aim of recalling the Senate to consider legislation is unusual. The successful prorogation sets the stage for the possibility of a double dissolution election.

 

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18 April 2016

Parliament resumes after prorogation

Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, opens a new session of the Parliament.

The Senate receives the House of Representatives' message requesting it resume considering the Building and Construction Industry Bills. The Senate complies and the legislation is defeated a second time. This action sets in motion the 'trigger' for a double dissolution election.

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19 April 2016

Prime Minister announces likely date of double dissolution election

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (LP, Wentworth, NSW) states his intention for the next federal election to be held on 2 July.

 

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28 April 2016

Senate: Casual vacancy Western Australia

Pat Dodson (ALP, WA) fills the Senate casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Joe Bullock (ALP, WA) on 13 April.

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2 May 2016

Supply Bills introduced

The Assistant Finance Minister, Peter Hendy (LP, Eden-Monaro, NSW), introduces Supply Bills into the House to ensure funding of government services during the anticipated election period. The 2016–17 Budget Bills would then be considered and passed by the new Parliament.

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4 May 2016

Former member found guilty of contempt and reprimanded by the House

The House of Representatives finds former MP Craig Thomson (ALP, Dobell, NSW) guilty of contempt and reprimands him. The motion follows the Committee of Privileges and Members' Interests' recommendation citing Mr Thomson's statement on 21 May 2012 and the Melbourne Magistrates Court's findings on 18 February 2014.

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9 May 2016

Dissolution of both Houses

Both Houses of Parliament are dissolved by proclamation of Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove. The 2016 federal election will be Australia's seventh double dissolution election, and the first in almost 30 years.

 

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16 May 2016

Death of Romaldo Giurgola

Romaldo (Aldo) Giurgola, the architect of Australia's Parliament House, dies at age 95. As senior partner of Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp Architects, Mr Giurgola was the principal design architect for the building from its inception until 1999.

 

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2 July 2016

2016 double dissolution election

After an eight week campaign, the Liberal/National Coalition led by Malcolm Turnbull (LP, Wentworth, NSW) is returned to power despite losing 14 seats.

In the House of Representatives, the Coalition holds 76 seats, the ALP 69. The cross bench comprises two Independents, and one member each from the Aus