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Parliament House is currently

The new and permanent Parliament House

Charles Bush (1919-1989), Opening of Parliament by the Queen 1988 (study), 1988, Historic Memorials Collection, Parliament House Art Collection.

On 9 May 1988, Queen Elizabeth II formally opened the Commonwealth of Australia’s permanent Parliament House on Canberra’s Capital Hill.

1988 was Australia’s bicentennial year, 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 British colony of NSW.

The date of the opening was chosen to coincide with the anniversaries of the opening of the first federal Parliament in Melbourne in 1901, and of the opening of provisional Parliament House in Canberra in 1927.1

Front of Parliament House, Canberra

The opening ceremony
The day began with a two-hour concert to entertain the assembling crowd of some 25,000 spectators,2 the performances illustrating varied aspects of Australian life.3 Millions more shared the experience through ‘live television broadcasts, video recordings and special colour supplements in major newspapers’.4

The Queen’s arrival was marked by a trumpet fanfare and Royal Salute, a guard of honour, and a military flyover.After a multi-faith service, the Queen unlocked the ceremonial doors with keys designed by the building’s architects and produced by the Royal Australian Mint.6 The formal opening ceremony followed, 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 spoke 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.6

In his speech Prime Minister Bob Hawke hoped that those in attendance:

have a feeling of deep gratitude to all who are responsible for this great and imaginative building – to those who conceived and designed it, to all who by the labour of their mind and body have made it the remarkable reality it is.

[And] we therefore understand the awesome obligation that is upon us. For those in the new parliament this will be an obligation to recognise always in the conduct of debate that whatever their views, their ideology, their Party, they are part of something bigger – an institution which must endure long after the divisive issues of the day have been fought and resolved.

[B]ecause we know we will discharge that obligation 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.7