Friday, 31 July 2009
Thursday, 30 July 2009
Stained glass ceiling of the Jubilee Room.
The beautiful Jubilee Room is my favourite part of the old Parliament House building. It was originally built in 1903 to accommodate the Parliamentary Libary. Architecturally, the Library is a small version of the classic Edwardian reading room, with collections shelved from floor to ceiling, reached by two tiers of galleries running around all sides. On the floor stand the terrestrial and celestial globes which were acquired for the Libary in 1868 and 1871 respectiely; and the display cases hold various pieces from the Parliament House collection. It remained the Parliamentary Libary's main reading room and was the focus of its operations and services until 1980 when the Libary relocated to the new building erected behind the old Rum Hospital. The room was restored and is now used for committee meetings and other functions.
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
The NSW Legislative Assembly is often referred to as the Lower House or the Seat of Government due to the fact that the Government is formed by the political party which has the majority of Members in the Legislative Assembly. The term of the Legislative Assembly is fixed at four years unless the House loses confidence in the Government or fails to pass an appropriation bill for the ordinary annual services of Government, or the Governor decides to dissolve the Assembly in accordance with constitutional conventions.
The New South Wales Legislative Assembly follows the traditions of the House of Commons at Westminster and is furnished in green. There are a number of theories as to why green was chosen by the House of Commons. First, that the colour adopted by the House of Commons stems from the use of the colour within the palace of Westminster rather than due to any specific symbolism. Second, that the use of green stems from the cost of dyeing cloth for hangings. Dull green cloth was one of the cheapest colours to produce and it is argued that the House of Commons as the House of the commoner, had to be content with a more sober plumage than that of the House of Lords, which was decorated in red. Third, that the green is symbolic of the oak fields of Runnymede where the Magna Carta was signed in 1215 by King John, and fourth that it symbolises the village green and oak trees under which the commoners who later became Members of the House of Commons gathered.
The New South Wales Coat of Arms sits above the Speaker’s Chair in the Chamber as a symbol of the sovereignty of New South Wales. Prior to 2007 the Royal Coat of Arms was hung in the Chamber but was replaced with the New South Wales Coat of Arms in accordance with the State Arms, Symbols and Emblems Act 2004.
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Furnished in the traditional red inherited fromthe British House of Lords, this chamber is the home of the NSW Upper House, the House of Review. Legislation must be passed by both Houses of Parliment to become law.The Council has similar powers to the Legislative Assembly (Lower House), but it has limitations in respect to some financial bills. As a House of Review the Legislative Council plays an important role in the scrutiny of laws for the good government of the State. Other important functions are the review and scrutiny of the finances, policy and administration of the executive government, which is largely done through inquiries by Committees of the Legislative Council.
The first Legislative Council consisted of five appointed members to advise the Governor in making laws and was presided over by the Governor. This was Australia's first governing body and it met for the first time on 25 August 1824. In those days the colony of NSW covered two-thirds of Australia.The Legislative Council today is vastly different from the first advisory body. There are 42 members elected by the people under a system of voting known as proportional representation, with the whole State as one electorate. One-half of the members of the Council (21) are elected each four years, so that members have an eight year term.
Monday, 27 July 2009
This week I'm going to show you over the seat of Government in New South Wales - Parliament House in Macquarie Street.
The colonnaded central part of Parliament House, facing Macquarie Street was completed in 1816 as part of Governor Macquarie's "Rum Hospital". Upon his arrival in the Colony of NSW at the end of 1810, Macquarie discovered that the town's hospital was an affair of tents and temporary buildings established along what is now George Street in the Rocks area when the First Fleet arrived in 1788.
Macquarie (that's him below) set aside land on the western edge of the Governor's domain for a new hospital and created a new road - Macquarie Street - to provide access to it. Plans were drawn up but the British Government refused to provide funds to build the hospital. Consequently, Macquarie entered into a contract with a consortium of businessmen to erect the new hospital. They were to receive convict labour and supplies and a monopoly on rum imports from which they expected to recoup the cost of the building and gain considerable profits. The contract allowed them to import 45,000 (later increased to 60,000) gallons of rum to sell to the thirsty colonists. In the event, the hospital did not turn out to be very profitable for the contractors.
The new hospital had a large central building, which was the main hospital, and two smaller wings which were quarters for the surgeons. The central building was replaced in 1894 by the present Macquarie Street buildings of Sydney Hospital, but the smaller wings remain. The former Mint, next to the Hyde Park Barracks, was originally the quarters for the Assistant Surgeon as well as a storage facility, and the northern wing, built for the Principal Surgeon, remains today as the colonnaded facade of Parliament House.