Heritage management in Parliament House
In chapter 3 of this report, the committee provided an outline of
general heritage issues in Parliament House and proposals to list the building
under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC
Act). This chapter addresses the management of heritage matters by the former
Joint House Department (JHD) and the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS).
It also canvasses other suggestions made in evidence to increase the heritage
protections afforded to Parliament House.
Joint House Department
When listing of Parliament House on the Register of the National Estate
was proposed in 1995, it was not supported by the Presiding Officers as the JHD
was establishing its own internal procedures for protecting the design
integrity of the building.
As noted, the JHD developed the Interim Design Integrity Advisory Committee (IDIAC)
which comprised representatives from the Chamber Departments, the JHD and Mitchell/Giurgola
& Thorp (MGT).
The IDIAC was to:
recommend an ongoing mechanism for the protection of the
integrity of the original design of Parliament House;
bind design integrity protection measures into Capital and
Engineering Works procedures;
review the annual Capital Works program before submission to the
oversee the implementation of a five part strategy for the
protection of design integrity;
meet quarterly; and
meet on an ad hoc basis at the direction of the Chairman
(secretary of JHD) to consider specific matters.
The five part strategy included the nomination of a resource/reference
person and panel of persons to provide informed advice and adjudication on
design matters and development of a Central Reference Document (CRD) to provide
a methodology for the screening of proposals for change.
The committee received a submission from the former Secretary of the
JHD, Mr Mike Bolton, which set out the sequence of events that followed to
'preserve the heritage and design integrity of this building of national
significance'. These included:
creation of a position of Design Integrity Officer within its
structure to liaise with the building's architects (MGT) to provide guidance
and oversight to proposed changes to the building, its furniture and fittings;
commissioning of Ms Pamille Berg to prepare a series of papers
covering all aspects of the Parliament House design which eventually became the
work entitled The Architect’s Design Intent for Parliament House Canberra:
Central Reference Document;
not allowing assets within Parliament House to deteriorate to any
great extent, that is, maintaining Parliament House and its assets at a level
of 90 per cent of new; and
engaging, on an annual basis, a building consultant who audited
the JHD's performance in asset management.
Mr Bolton outlined the reasons behind these proposals:
JHD did not want Parliament House to go the way of many other
great buildings where original design concepts which very much establish the
overall building character are forgotten and changes are made according to the
whims of the time. Eventually it seems to be that when a building requires
major refurbishment because of the ravages of time considerable extra expense
is [in]curred as people realise the beauty or symbolism of the original design
and seek to have the elements of the original design reinstated. There are many
examples of this having occurred throughout the world.
Ms Pamille Berg noted the developments under Mr Bolton and stated:
What is important is that, at the time that he determined
that he was going to set up an integrated management process for design
integrity and design intent, he had control of his department. He set up an
interdepartmental committee, which at that time was called the IDIAC, that met
to deal with the crossover issues involved in dealing with change. Within the
Joint House Department as it existed at that time they already understood that
there had to be a very formal process to create continuity in the decisions that
were being made.
The committee is not in a position to judge the success or otherwise of the
JHD's regime to protect the heritage of the building. The committee notes Mr
Bolton's comments that mistakes were made while the JHD established its
stewardship of the new Parliament House and that a range of requests for
changes to the building and accommodation were received once it was occupied.
However, the committee notes the foresight of the JHD in commissioning the
Central Reference Document, the appointment of a Design Integrity Officer and
the use of a building consultant to undertake annual audits.
Department of Parliamentary Services
The Department of Parliamentary Services was established in 2004 following
the amalgamation of the Joint House Department, the Department of the
Parliamentary Library and Department of Parliamentary Reporting Staff. Both the
Presiding Officers and DPS have indicated that policies and procedures are in
place to protect the heritage values of Parliament House.
In 2006, the Presiding Officers noted that significant changes to the
building already require both parliamentary approval and approval from the
National Capital Authority and that these requirements have operated
satisfactorily for 18 years. Further, the procedures already in place under the
Parliament Act 1974 and other legislation for managing significant works
The legislation provides for the following:
Parliament Act 1974: section 5 of the Act provides that no
building or other work is to be erected on land within the Parliamentary zone
in the case of works within the precincts – the Presiding
Officers must cause a proposal for the work to be tabled in each House and the
proposal must be approved by resolution of each House; or
in the case of works outside the precincts – the Minister
responsible for administering the Act must cause a proposal for the work to be tabled
in each House and the proposal must be approved by resolution of each House.
Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management)
Act 1988: the Parliamentary Zone is a Designated Area under the Act. No
works, including construction, alteration, extension or demolition of buildings
or structures, can be undertaken without the approval of the National Capital
Authority. Works inside buildings are excluded from this provision.
Parliamentary committees also have oversight with the resolution of
appointment of the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and
External Territories providing that the Committee may inquire into and report
matters coming within the terms of section 5 of the Parliament Act
1974 as may be referred to it by:
either House of the Parliament; or
the Minister responsible for administering the Parliament Act 1974;
the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of
such other matters relating to the parliamentary zone as may be referred
to it by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of
DPS also provides briefs to the Joint House Committee in relation to
certain projects. For example, the Committee was briefed about the changes to
the Staff Recreation Area to provide additional staff accommodation.
More recently, DPS stated that:
There is a very broad framework of governance and policy and
procedural documents that apply to this asset and heritage management role of
DPS. These documents range from 'whole-of-government' instruments—such as
legislation, regulations, Finance Minister's Orders and Department of Finance
guidelines—through to specific DPS policies, procedures and guidelines.
DPS identified a number of matters which supported heritage values
DPS reports against its environmental EPBC responsibilities in
the Annual Report;
annual inspection and reporting against key performance
all capital works projects are required to meet the requirements
of the DPS Strategic Plans;
maintenance and asset replacement programs must take into
consideration design integrity requirements; and
a range of Governance papers that address moral rights, design
integrity and compliance with heritage principles.
In relation to Governance papers, DPS noted that Governance Paper No
33–Caring for Parliament's Assets, notes:
For the next 200 years (at least), it is the intention of the
Australian Parliament to base itself in the new Parliament House.
New Parliament House is recognised as a design icon and is
part of Australia's heritage. This should not be compromised.
This leads to the asset management
Protect what we have–we need to maintain the design
integrity and heritage values of this building and preserve cultural heritage
assets that have unique heritage assets that have unique national historic
DPS also noted that some heritage aspects are met by ensuring DPS
specifications and standards are used. DPS went on to note:
However, many of these specifications and standards can
result in very high costs. As a Financial Management and Accountability Act
1997 Agency, DPS is required to ensure it manages public resources efficiently,
effectively and ethically. To ensure the efficient and effective use of public
money DPS evaluates alternative solutions and considers the application of the
specifications and standards in relation to the significance of the space,
fitness for purpose and cost implications.
In addition, DPS stated that systems and procedures have been
progressively developed for management of the Parliament House Art Collection
and the approach to capital works to take account of heritage and design
integrity considerations has been refined.
DPS has also finalised the Parliament House Heritage Management Framework and
has sought completion of the CRD.
The following discussion provides an overview of the development of the
Heritage Management Framework. Evidence received in relation to the success of
DPS's practices and policies to protect the heritage values of Parliament House
is then discussed. The CRD is discussed in chapter 5.
Parliament House Heritage
DPS advised that over that last five to six years work has been
undertaken to develop an 'overarching heritage policy or strategy for
Parliament House'. The first version, the Heritage Strategy, was undertaken by
the firm Heritage Management Consultants Pty Ltd and resulted in 15 drafts
provided to DPS between November 2006 and May 2009 at a cost of $17,000.
In May 2008, DPS provided a draft Heritage Strategy for the Australian Heritage
Council's (AHC) advice. The AHC noted:
The [Australian Heritage] Council was satisfied with the way
in which the draft heritage strategy addresses the requirements of the EPBC Act
and provided its comments recommending minor amendments to DPS on
13 August 2008.
The draft Heritage Strategy was based on the assumption that Parliament
House was owned and controlled by a Commonwealth agency (the Secretary of DPS)
and therefore 'the full powers' of the heritage provisions of the EPBC Act were
considered to apply to Parliament House. Subsequent legal advice confirmed that
Parliament House is under the control and management of the Presiding Officers
who are not Commonwealth agencies.
Following this legal advice, the Heritage Management Framework was
developed by a DPS officer with postgraduate qualifications in cultural
The Heritage Management Framework was approved by the Presiding Officers in December
The document defines a Heritage Management Framework as follows:
A heritage management framework describes and assesses the
heritage value of a site and guides the development of strategies and plans
that protect and raise awareness of these values. A heritage management
framework also provides information on management aspects to better protect
heritage values on a day-to-day basis.
This definition is based on the definition of a heritage management plan
taken from the Defence Guide to Heritage Management Planning, Defence Heritage
Toolkit (Guide 6).
Action 3 of the Heritage Management Framework notes that:
All planning documents developed for Parliament House will
refer to this Heritage Management Framework as a primary guide for the
management of its heritage values.
The Heritage Management Framework also establishes the Parliament House Heritage
Advisory Board. The primary function of the Heritage Advisory Board is to
provide advice to the Presiding Officers and to provide oversight of detailed
heritage issues for Parliament House. To fulfil these functions of the Heritage
Advisory Board is to:
make recommendations to the Presiding Officers on heritage
policies and major heritage issues;
provide advice and guidance to the Parliamentary departments on
heritage issues and policies;
review proposals for significant change or
conservation/preservation work in Parliament House;
provide practical heritage advice and innovative solutions to a
range of Parliament House users; and
as required, provide direction for capital works planning to
ensure strategic heritage issues are adequately addressed and project delays
The Advisory Board consists of the Secretary of DPS, and an employee of
each of the Chamber departments (Usher of the Black Rod and Serjeant-at-Arms).
The Board is assisted by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water,
Population and Communities (DSEWPaC) and the National Capital Authority (NCA)
as well as any stakeholders it may wish to consult.
DPS advised the committee that it had sought the views of DSEWPaC
regarding the draft Heritage Management Framework. DSEWPaC acknowledged that
DPS 'has prepared the draft Heritage Management Framework in the spirit of the
EPBC Act for the management of the potential National and Commonwealth Heritage
values of the Parliament House'. DSEWPaC noted that the draft Heritage Management
Framework 'is consistent with the National and Commonwealth Heritage management
principles (as contained in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity
Conservation Regulations 2000) and the Burra Charter principles'.
Assessments of DPS heritage
policies and practices
Evidence provided to the committee called into doubt the level of
heritage protection provided to Parliament House by DPS policies and practices.
This evidence ranged from general concerns, such as the lack of adherence to
best practice in heritage management, to specific issues related to the
Parliament House Heritage Framework which was generally viewed in a less than
The view was put to the committee that the heritage management of
Parliament House should be of the highest order.
The International Union of Architects, for example, stated:
The UIA together with other international organisations
interested in conserving world architecture such as UNESCO, ICOMOS and DOCOMOMO
International require that the highest standards be used to conserve and manage
the World's monuments. We are concerned that this has not been the case with
Australia's Parliament House.
The National Trust also expressed concern that 'the appropriate
conservation practice is not being followed' for Parliament House.
Mr Martin commented that DPS:
...needs a clearly structured plan and detail, which has been
developed through a normal process of developing heritage management plans, to
give them the guidance they need to look after this very important building.
Mr Romaldo Giurgola commented that there is an absence of an approved
strategic policy framework. Of particular concern:
...is the lack of sufficient measures which recognise and
preserve the integrity or the wholeness of the design intent and the
relatedness across all aspects of the Parliament House, ranging from its
building fabric to the chair construction or carpet pattern or configuration of
the park on the landscape.
Mr Giurgola went on to argue that there is an urgent need for a strategy
to manage change 'with an essential framework of checks and balances on the
competing and different interests within the building'.
DPS has developed the Heritage Management Framework which it believes
will 'provide an excellent basis for recognising heritage values, while still
allowing the work of the Parliament to evolve over time'.
The following addresses evidence in relation to the Heritage Management Framework.
Suggestions for alternative processes are outlined below.
Parliament House Heritage
In relation to the Heritage Management Framework, the committee heard a
range of criticisms. Mr Martin, National Trust, voiced concern that the
Framework did not go far enough; that a Heritage Management Framework is only
part of the heritage process. He commented that it is not consistent and is not
'rigorous enough in respect to what is accepted conservation practice today'.
Professor Weirick went further and stated that the Heritage Management Framework,
in many ways, is:
...inadequate, misleading and indeed a dangerous document. In
addition to all of the other concerns, what is not clear to us is the measure
of ultimately parliamentary oversight of what takes place at parliament.
Professor Weirick and Mr Martin pointed to a number of specific
issues, including that the Heritage Management Framework did not cover the
entire Parliamentary Precinct.
Of significant concern was that DPS had undertaken no serious public
consultation with professional organisations or community organisations, which
Professor Weirick saw as 'a very big disconnect'.
While the Heritage Management Framework provides for strategies for
stakeholder and community consultation, Mr Martin commented that the National
Trust had no confidence that this consultation will actually occur. In relation
to the Advisory Board, it was noted that it had 'limited heritage expertise to
make serious decisions in respect to the heritage values'. Mr Martin also added
the Framework fails to acknowledge some aspects of the architectural
significance of the building and its importance within the Australian Institute
of Architects and the International Union of Architects. Further:
There is inconsistency between the analysis and the statement
of significance. There are things stated in the analysis of high value and then
put into the statement of significance as exceptional. The statement of
significance fails to acknowledge all the recognition of this building,
nationally and internationally, on various awards and citations. I think that
is a shortcoming in respect to the whole thing.
Because it has not gone through a public and professional
assessment through a consultation process, I think the rigour evidenced in the
statement of significance and the analysis is not there...Our concern is that,
without this structure in place, the heritage values of this place are not
fully recognised and will not be fully protected, and it needs that rigour in
Mr Martin suggested that consultation processes could be improved
through the use of a reference group:
That reference group can have a range of diverse interests.
The National Trust sits on a number of territory related reference groups at
the moment and we have that sort of input so that the views of the trust are
heard at that reference group and then passed back. I strongly recommend that a
reference group that is representative of a wider group of expertise that can
contribute to issues relevant to potential change and the conservation of this
building is the best way going.
The Walter Burley Griffin Society asserted that the Heritage Management
Framework drafted by DPS 'proposed a system of self-regulation, with no
statutory basis, no checks and balances, and no meaningful provision for public
The Society went on to argue that a comprehensive Heritage Management Plan for
Parliament House should be prepared by 'eminent heritage consultants with
expertise in the conservation of architecture, landscape architecture, urban
design, engineering, furniture and art works'.
The Australian Institute of Architects recommended that a Conservation
Management Plan (CMP) should be in place:
Ideally, the CMP should be concerned with activities related
to the built form, the views to and from the place, the landscape, and the
craft and artwork all associated with the original design of the place.
The National Trust also called for a detailed Conservation and
Management Plan to be developed. Such a plan would need to consider all
components such as the building, landscape, furniture, art collection and other
objects associated with the building as well as full public consultation in the
preparation of such a document.
Response from DPS
In response to this evidence, Mr Grove, then Acting Secretary, DPS,
stated that 'I accept that in the past some of the practices have not been
ideal, but again during that process there were people who held very, very
strong views one way or the other as to whether or not something should be kept
or gone or how some sort of approach should be made'.
Mr Grove pointed to the views expressed about the listing of the building but
noted that the Presiding Officers were firmly of the opinion that this should
not occur. That being the case, he went on to comment:
...DPS has attempted to do in more recent years is to try to
live within that decision. As a consequence, the framework was developed in
consultation with the department responsible for the Heritage Council and their
feedback. My understanding is that, within the constraints of that, they are
quite comfortable with the way that is progressing. It is a work in progress.
This was reinforced by Ms Judy Tahapehi, Director, DPS, who noted that even
though DPS was not required to meet the obligations of the EPBC Act, DPS had
done so, 'as far as possible'. DPS also ensured that the Heritage Management Framework
was consistent with the National and Commonwealth heritage management
principles in the Burra Charter. The principles have subsequently been embedded
into the practices of DPS.
Ms Tahapehi also noted that the architects had not been consulted on the
development of the Framework but 'we have made sure that the consultation with
them is embedded into our actions and principles'.
In relation to the Heritage Management Advisory Board, Mr Grove stated:
The advisory board does not claim to have any expertise in
the area of architecture, design or whatever; they are bureaucrats who are
attempting to live within that framework. But that advisory board, you would
note, clearly has provision for expert advice to come in. It may be that that
advisory board can have as part of its mechanism some sort of reference group,
as was suggested this morning in the evidence given, to attempt to provide access
for community consultation.
Mr Grove concluded that it is hoped that the Heritage Management Framework:
...will be there in sympathy with the principles involved in
relation to heritage and the proper keeping of an iconic building like this,
because it is so much more than the building itself; it is its content, the way
it appears et cetera...
I think the important thing is that there is clear
recognition now that those issues cannot be ignored and, if there are difficult
issues that need to be discussed in the broader community with the experts,
that conversation needs to be held.
Maintenance of design integrity by DPS
The committee considers another measure of the success of the heritage
protection of Parliament House is the maintenance of design integrity and the
relationship between DPS and the buildings architects, in particular Mr Romaldo
Giurgola as the moral rights holder. The following provides a discussion of
general issues regarding consultations between DPS and the building's architects.
The committee will examine in detail specific projects which have raised design
integrity issues in its next report.
Since 1988, Mr Giurgola holds and exercises the moral and intellectual
property rights in the design of Parliament House.
The Copyright Act 1968 (Copyright Act) sets out obligations in relation
to moral rights and copyright holders.
Moral rights obligations are recognised in a range of DPS documents. The
DPS Building and Security Projects Large Project Checklist for example,
requires that informal consultation be undertaken with the moral rights holder
at the design options phase, and that formal notification be undertaken at the
The Heritage Management Framework addresses moral rights. It is stated:
Any proposal for change that affects significant elements of
the building and surrounds or conservation work will include a consultation
period with stakeholders, especially with the designers and makers of the
various aspects of the building and its commissioned furniture, art and craft.
The Framework notes that moral rights holders must be consulted in
accordance with provisions of the Copyright Act. DPS will also hold meetings
with the building's architects:
DPS project officers will meet quarterly with representatives
of the firm Guida Moseley Brown Architects to discuss proposals and seek
Moral rights holders cannot preclude DPS from carrying out the building
changes that it wishes to make as long as it has complied with its obligations
under the Copyright Act.
In its submission to the committee, DPS reported that proposals to
change the building are assessed against the original design as expressed in
the CRD and that there has been 'periodic consultation with the original
architects'. This consultation:
...respects the moral rights of the architects, and also seeks
their views about design integrity. It is noted that the original architects
have not always been in full agreement with development proposals prepared by
other firms. Nevertheless, the consultation process continues and is generally
constructive. DPS also engages the original architects on a commercial basis from
time to time.
DPS advised that the evaluation process for a proposed project includes
consideration of the effect on design integrity of the infrastructure. Further:
Historically, DPS staff, from time to time, have held
discussions with Mr Giurgola and GMB Architects (which comprises a number
of the original APH architects) about Parliament House design issues. This has
now been formalised with regular meetings to provide a forum for DPS to advise
Mr Giurgola and/or GMB Architects of projects identified for inclusion on the
Capital Works Program (CWP). Additional discussions are scheduled on particular
projects where necessary at the Concept drawing stage and sometimes at later
design stages if there are particular issues to consider.
This consultation is conducted in addition to the 'Notice to
Author of Artistic Work', Pursuant to Section 195AT(3A) of the Copyright Act
1968 Regulation 25AA (2) (Moral Rights) which, if required, is provided
once the project has commenced and a design is available for review.
DPS went on to note that its consultation process with moral rights
...provides an additional opportunity to comment on specific
issues with the design.
Should the Moral Rights holder not agree with the plans, we
arrange meetings to identify the key issues and possible alternative
approaches. However, the regular meetings between the Director, BSP and Mr
Giurgola, and additional informal discussions with GMB Architects are intended
to reduce areas of concern at this stage of the design.
Mr Guida and Mr Giurgola questioned whether DPS had maintained the
design integrity of the building. Mr Giurgola commented that DPS is managing in
a 'down to earth' way and gives 'an immediate response without a second
thought'. Mr Giurgola continued:
They do the best that they can with their own structure, but
they cannot rely only on the presence of a moral right holder like myself
because I only come occasionally and they do not have to listen to what I say.
So, if there are outside pressures that are bigger, they go ahead with that, as
is the case with the occupancy of the storage space. I made it evident many
times to them the insufficiency that they have. I think this is a problem that
is of interest to the whole nation. Every citizen should be concerned about
Mr Giurgola suggested that it should not be expected that the expertise
for heritage management of Parliament House should lie within DPS. Rather, DPS
performs the day-to-day role 'equivalent to those of a property management
firm' while what is required is the 'expertise of highly trained professionals
in multiple fields at the apex of their professions, equal in their experience
and knowledge to the stature of the building which requires protection and
Mr Guida also commented on the management of heritage issues by DPS. He
stated that while he thought that DPS did 'take the work seriously', there was
a 'missing link' between the way they use the draft Central Reference Document
and 'a comprehensive kind of guidance and concept of how management could take
place using a document of this sort'.
Ms Berg raised the issue of loss of focus within DPS following the
amalgamation of the three former departments:
What has happened in the interim period with the
mega-department versus what the Joint House Department was doing at that time
with more direct control over these processes after realising that there had to
be formal overarching processes that led back to the Parliament is
Ms Berg also agreed that it would be unrealistic that the expertise for
a long-term strategic vision as well as the day-to-day running would reside in
DPS. Ms Berg stated:
To expect that DPS has had in the past or will have in the
future the in-house staffing capability and expertise in multiple fields to
generate that highly specialised advice is unrealistic.
Ms Berg emphasised the need for a different structure to deal with
competing interests of those occupy the building, and who may demand changes to
the building, which would take into consideration the need for independence.
The committee heard evidence relating to the consultations/moral rights
engagement between Mr Giurgola and DPS. Ms Berg noted that the Copyright Act
gives three rights to creators: the right of attribution; the right to not have
their work misattributed; and the right of the nonviolation of the integrity of
what that thing is.
As noted above, DPS recognises across a range of documents, the need to
consult moral rights holders. However, Mr Giurgola commented that he 'can do
little or nothing as the holder of the moral rights to the design to
prevent the weakening and denigration of this building's design integrity'. He
went on to state that there is no requirement under the Copyright Act to
consult moral rights holders or for the advice, when given, to be followed.
Mr Giurgola and Ms Berg provided the committee with examples where no
moral rights consultation had taken place or where advice had not been
followed. Mr Giurgola stated that he had been 'extremely distressed' when
elements such as 'life-time' furniture designed and custom made for the
building, custom light fittings and the complete fitouts for entire areas of
the buildings had been sold off. In addition, the occupation of underground
areas had violated one of the building's most essential design principles.
While he was informed of accommodation work underground as part of his moral rights
notification, the timing was such that it was after much of the work had been
done, which made the notification pointless. Mr Giurgola explained:
I found it was a tragic solution, really, because it is a
place that does not have enough penetration of daylight and it is a very
crowded office, on a different level of the space which implies connection
between different levels and movements throughout and so forth. So I think that
was something that was contradictory to the spirit of the design of the workplace.
And I was too late. Then the thing obviously went mechanically through the
process, with the economics that involved, and there was nothing to do about
Ms Berg noted the fitting out of the endocroft space (former Staff
Recreation Room) behind the staff cafeteria with offices was opposed 'very
strongly' by Mr Giurgola. In a letter to the Presiding Officers regarding
this project, Mr Giurgola stated:
I would be very embarrassed for any professional colleague to
see the whole idea of what has been done here—for them to think that I could
have been responsible for this degree of planning and execution and the
placement of people in this zone of the building where the curved walls of the
building are meant to hold the ceremonial, large-scale, monumental public
places and the executive and there was to be no leakage of offices into that
space, let alone the quality of the accommodation.
Ms Berg went onto question who DPS relies on to undertake architectural
work in Parliament House. She noted that Mr Giurgola and other members of the
design team remained in Canberra following completion of the building and 'we
could not have had a better circumstance of being able to keep that continuous
vision of the why and what was appropriate and have a closer connection, a
closer advisory capacity, about who the appropriate architect would be for
these multiple projects that are happening within the building with multiple
Mr Giurgola also commented on the seemingly 'casual' choice of architects by
The fact is that in the near future the building will need
quite a bit of enlargement because of the population increase and so on...Up to
now the selection of professionals for changing inside has been very casual and
very difficult to control. This is a building that will require a firm and
clear hand at the top level of the profession, so it will be necessary to
formulate a system that allows that, to guarantee the presence of the best quality
of advice that you can get.
However, Mr Giurgola described a positive experience with the child care
centre where he had been contacted by the project architect:
...I worked with him intensively on the project, and it became
very much a possible thing in terms of the place in which it was put. So it was
created. That was a good experience for me because we had a long discussion
about the real necessity of the creche in that particular place. In fact, I
suggested the area outside that and inside and so forth, and we came to a kind
of intelligent approach, I think, to that problem—and very significant too. But
that was the situation. Sometimes, of the people who are employed, some are
aware of this problem, but to others it is nothing.
The Walter Burley Griffin Society raised concerns about the nature of
consultation between DPS and the original architects, as well as the changes to
the building which are seen to have compromised the design integrity:
The Society is also deeply concerned that the DPS submission
states that 'the original architects have not always been in full agreement
with development proposals prepared by other firms' and the submission from
Romaldo Giurgola AO LFRAIA LFAIA, dated 27 July 2011, draws attention to the
'weakening and denigration' of the building's design integrity by the
development of permanent staff offices in the basement, 'remote from natural
light...thereby violating one of the building's most essential design principles
regarding the provision of good work-spaces for every worker'; and by the
de-accessioning of custom designed furniture, light fittings, wall textiles and
fitouts for entire areas of the building.
These depredations are not acceptable.
The problem is clearly the consequence of DPS establishing a
self-regulated Design Integrity System, with no oversight and no accountability
beyond self-generated compliance tables in the Department's Annual Report.
The committee also received evidence from Mr John Smith, the artist
commissioned to design, fabricate and install the furniture for the Leader of
the Opposition's suite. Mr Smith noted that the terms of his contract with the
Parliament House Construction Authority (PHCA) stated that the suite could not
be modified or amended without his permission. However, shortly after
installation, the furniture was removed and replaced at the request of the then
Leader of the Opposition. Mr Smith stated:
These acts were clearly a breach of contract. A politician
would not be permitted to cut out a third of a painting because it offended his
or her sensibility. To remove a third or more of my suite is no different an
act to this. The integrated suite as a whole constitutes a single artwork. The
furniture was designed to last the projected life of the building (200 years)
as was required by the design brief. It lasted only a couple of weeks before it
was significantly violated. The suite belongs to the office of the Leader of
the Opposition and to the people of Australia. It is not the property of any politician
to be tampered with at will.
I urge this Inquiry to reinstate the suite in its entirety in
line with the original design concept for the building.
Response from DPS
At its hearing in May, DPS commented on its consultations with the building's
architects. It was noted that the need to consult with the architects is
embedded in the Heritage Management Framework's principles and actions. It was
also stated that the DPS Projects Branch has meetings to discuss various issues
related to different projects throughout the building. In addition, there is a
quarterly meeting that looks at the capital works program.
The relationship with Mr Giurgola was described by DPS as 'very positive' and
that he had 'expressed how grateful he is for the amount of consultation that
we currently do with him'.
Mr Kenny provided further information on consultations with the
architects, in particular in relation to the changes to the Staff Recreation
Room. Mr Kenny stated:
In 2010, when the planning for the staff dining room
accommodation work was being done—and I think it is fair to say that the
original architects had very strong views about that and were upset that they
were not consulted—we had advice from our design integrity people at the time
that consultation was not required because of the nature of the change. So we
proceeded on the basis of that advice. We became aware that that decision was
not the correct decision, and later that year, in 2010, we instigated with the
original architect a regular meeting so that whatever else happened there would
be consultation. I do not know how often they meet now. My recollection is that
the decision was that quarterly meetings would be appropriate, plus others as
required. So in 2010 we instigated a regular process to ensure that we had a
forum where the original architects and our people would meet to discuss any
Alternative approaches to ensuring the maintenance of heritage values
It was argued in evidence that it was beyond the expertise of DPS to
provide the standard of advice and expertise needed to maintain the design
integrity and the highly developed and integrated symbolic elements of the
building. Submitters pointed to the challenges facing DPS when varying, and
often contradictory, interests of the building occupants need to be balanced.
It was argued that appropriate consultation with outside experts was required.
Ms Berg, for example, stated:
It is obvious that the process of determination of the best,
most workable method for the protection of the building's design integrity and
management of ongoing change by experts in the field needs to be conducted in
formal, ordered consultation and collaboration with the building's key external
and internal stakeholders, including representatives from all of the
Parliamentary Departments and the building's original architects. However, the
provision of the expert advice needs to be independent and at arm's length from
Mr Giurgola also suggested that a wide range of advice needs to be
sought to ensure that decision making is appropriate for the proper
preservation of the architecture and symbolic integrity of the building:
...firstly, senior expertise from the relevant professions of
architecture, urban design, landscape, interior design, history and heritage
management; secondly, the expertise of key internal stakeholders—senior staff
members of the House, the Senate and executive departments, members and
senators, departmental library and so on—with respect to understanding and
projecting the function and tradition of Parliament House; thirdly, the
knowledge and vision of external stakeholders: carefully selected key members
of the public, both local and national, who have distinguished themselves
through their dedication to the perpetuation and preservation of living
cultural icons in Australia such as this building; and, finally, the embedded
knowledge and experience of the day-to-day management of this functional
building within its long-term care givers, important technical staff and
Mr Giurgola went on to state:
It is not my place to define here the structure of these checks
and balances on decisions for change in Parliament House; however, I believe
that, when the parliament has at last entrenched a model process of carefully
crafted strategic policy in the protection of essential design values and
management of change in the building, then the Australian people can feel
assured that in the future such decisions on change will have been made as
wisely as possible, utilising the expertise of both experts and stakeholders
and forging a responsible way forward.
The former Secretary of the JHD also put his view on this issue. Mr
...is it sufficient to allow the maintenance of the design
integrity of Parliament House to be left solely within the control of a part of
the parliamentary administration, currently the DPS? Works need to proceed both
in a regulated but also timely manner. I urge the Committee to suggest to the
Senate that parties such as DPS, a representative of the Presiding Officers,
the original partners of MGT, a noted heritage architect and representatives of
other appropriate bodies be called together to develop an efficient and
effective method of considering design integrity issues in the building which
does not unduly delay necessary works to accommodate the changing needs of the
The committee received evidence suggesting mechanisms to reinforce the
maintenance of heritage values of Parliament House. Mr Guida, for example,
noted that the PHCA was an independent body but was responsible to the Joint
Standing Committee on the New Parliament House. He saw the PHCA's independence
as providing 'a free-from-influence environment to seek the best solutions from
all parties, and the reporting to the Committee ensured review and approval'.
He went on to suggest that:
...it would be appropriate to establish an independent body
(Architect of the Parliament?) outside of the various parliamentary departments
to provide assessment of best practice of maintaining design integrity, and the
development of strategies, policies, guidelines, and conservation management
directions to allow for careful modifications of the building to occur over the
next generation’s occupancy. This position could be required to report to a
joint committee for comment and approval and acceptance of directions from time
The Walter Burley Griffin Society also called for the establishment of
an Office of Architect of Parliament House, as well as a Design Office to
oversee the capital works program for Parliament. The Society noted that the
JHD had a chief architect but that position no longer existed.
This was seen as a backward step as:
Given the complexity, sensitivity and heritage significance
of Parliament House, a works program of this scale – which is expected to
continue for many years – should be overseen by a Design Office with the
highest levels of expertise in architecture, landscape architecture, urban
design, interior design, industrial design, heritage conservation,
environmental engineering and fine arts.
The Society recommended that the Office of Architect of Parliament House
be established through dedicated legislation. It was argued that this would 'ensure
the maintenance, operation, development and conservation of the Australian
Parliament House at a level commensurate with its outstanding heritage
significance to the nation'.
The Society pointed to the role of the Architect of the Capitol in Washington
D.C., established in 1793, with responsibility to the US Congress for the
'maintenance, operation, development and preservation' of the US Capitol
The committee also notes that Mr Russell Cope, in his 2001 paper on the
architecture of parliamentary buildings, commented that while there are annual
reports by parliamentary departments 'there is no report published devoted to
the actual parliamentary building and its preservation and use. It is almost
impossible to obtain an informative and current picture of the present position
of these buildings'. Mr Cope suggested that 'Australian parliament houses
deserve their own periodic reports published for public benefit and general
interest of all'.
The committee recognises that the preservation of heritage aspects of a building
as significant as Parliament House attracts a wide range of views. On the one
hand are those who consider that it should be viewed as a static entity, to
remain in the state as handed over to the Parliament in 1988. This view is not
shared by the committee as the building needs to evolve as the Parliament evolves.
The building's architects also do not support this approach. Mr Giurgola commented
It cannot just be given by heritage agencies, because those
agencies are there to save forever something. But here we have to save forever
something that keeps changing all the time, inevitably, and I think it should
be. What is important is maintaining the wholeness of the old system and the
symbolism that is so particular to this place, to this nation—not borrow it
from left and right and so on.
However, it is this last point which needs to be addressed: how will
change inevitably required in a working building be managed so that the
inherent design integrity, symbolism and other interconnecting elements that
make up Parliament House are not lost or degraded.
From the evidence received, the management of change has, in some cases,
been less than successful. This was evident from the first years of occupation
of the building when many changes were made, for example, the renovation of the
Members' Dining Room and removal of furniture from suites. It appears that the
Joint House Department recognised the need to protect the design integrity and
sought to put in place processes to ensure that this occurred.
In recent years, concerns have again been raised about the rigor of
mechanisms established to protect heritage values. The committee considers that
these concerns are justified given the evidence of the lack of consultation
with the architects in relation to the changes to the staff accommodation in
2010, the loss of heritage items and other matters which have been brought to
the committee's attention are are yet to be fully explored. The committee
considers that this appears to indicate a lack of understanding of how the
design intent can be incorporated in the changes required. The committee has
yet to examine specific projects in this regard. It will do so in its next
report. That these matters have arisen also points to a lack of transparency
and accountability of the actions of DPS.
The committee notes that in President of the Senate's letter to the
committee of 13 September 2011, the President notes that the Presiding Officers
had tasked DPS:
to finalise arrangements for heritage management of the
building which recognises its role as the home of a working parliament, and its
status as a national icon.
The President also indicated that 'DPS has sought external expert advice
and will continue to do so, as well as continuing consultation with relevant
The committee has received evidence from DPS pointing to improvements in
policies processes to ensure that heritage concerns are fully addressed.
However, witnesses did not consider that DPS's response was yet sufficient to
fully address heritage concerns. The Parliament House Heritage Management
Framework, in particular, was singled out for criticism with the Walter Burley
Griffin Society commenting that it was inadequate, misleading and dangerous.
The committee is not in a position to adjudicate on such comments.
However, it appears that there has been a paucity of public consultation in the
formulation of the Heritage Management Framework with no heritage organisations
being consulted and no involvement by the building's architects. The committee
notes that heritage strategies for other buildings across Australia are more
detailed and far more comprehensive than that produced by DPS. The committee
also notes that is has received recommendations for the creation of detailed
conservation plans to support the Heritage Management Framework. In addition,
there were calls for more expert advisors to be available to or be members of
the Heritage Advisory Board. The committee acknowledges that the Heritage Advisory
Board is an important step in improving the protection of the heritage values
of Parliament House but considers that independent expert advice must be
available to the Heritage Advisory Board and that any expert views provided must
be considered appropriately.
Further work also appears to be needed in relation to the understanding
of what constitutes a 'significant change' to the building. Indeed, the
architects were not consulted about changes to the Staff Recreation Room area as
it was viewed that the 'nature of the change' did not require such a
consultation. However, to most occupants of the building, the scale of the
renovation in this area would constitute a 'significant change'.
The committee has taken note of comments in relation to the level of
expertise within the staff of DPS to manage the complex considerations when
changes to the building are proposed. In the late 2000s, many staff who had
worked in the building from 1988, including some who had worked on the actual
construction, left DPS employment. They took with them a great deal of
knowledge of the building. However, the committee agrees that even with very
knowledgeable staff, it is unrealistic to expect DPS staff to have the
expertise required to undertake comprehensive assessments of proposals and to provide
comprehensive and balanced advice. This is particularly the case in a working
building where many competing demands are made for change and enhancements.
The committee received a number of proposals aimed at ensuring that
expert advice is available to DPS and to the Parliament. The committee is yet
to come to a conclusion in this regard but considers that the availability of
expert advice will be important as the Parliament continues to seek change to
the building. For example, the establishment of the new Parliamentary Budget
Office will require additional accommodation within the building which may
result in renovation of some of the spaces in the Parliamentary Library.
A further matter raised was the level of consultation with the
architects, particularly Mr Giurgola. DPS has indicated that in recent times
regular meetings have been taking place and that the relationship has improved.
While the committee is pleased to hear of this progress, it comes only after
years of less than adequate interactions and even as late as 2010, DPS did not
undertake consultation with Mr Giurgola in relation to the accommodations
changes involving the Staff Recreation Room. The committee also notes comments
from Mr Guida that while the level of consultation is an improvement this is an
advisory process (voluntary and unpaid) and is only an alert. It does not
provide DPS with detailed advice on the maintenance or infringement of design
integrity within specific projects for change within Parliament House.
In this report, the committee has not come to a conclusion in relation
to the matters noted above. It considers a number of issues require further
consideration. These issues include:
the need to improve the accountability and transparency of the
Department of Parliamentary Services in relation to heritage matters;
the role of the Presiding Officers and the Parliament in relation
to heritage matters;
the role of outside experts in guiding change in the building;
what constitutes a 'significant change' to the building.
The committee intends to explore these matters further and provide
comments in its final report.
Navigation: Previous Page | Contents | Next Page