Yesterday, I took a guided tour of Queensland’s State Parliament House in the southern tip of Brisbane’s CBD. Tours are organised regularly except for parliament sitting days. During this tour, there were only three participants. One is me (of course), another one is a woman from Townsville who speak Danish and the third one is a lady from Denmark. And I think the guide is of a German descent.
After a thorough security check, participants needed to sign on a pink book and take a pink-coloured visitor’s pass. The other colour is green but I’m not sure for whom it is intended. The time we enter and leave the Parliament precinct must be told and written in the pink book.
This is the main foyer. There are two blocks in the Parliament House, one is the ‘skyscraper’ and the other one is the ‘older, grander’ building. Whenever a British royalty comes, a red carpet will be extended from the staircase down in front of the main entrance (visitors enter from the side entrance). The Parliament House is considered an old building by Queensland’s standard (if it’s not for Australia’s young history and Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s mindless developments) built in the 1860s if I’m not mistaken.
After a brief explanation to the Parliament, we were guided to the Upper House sitting area. Queensland, however, is the only Australian state that does not have an upper house in its Westminster-style state parliament. If I’m not mistaken the reason was because laws were hardly passed by the Upper House and ‘low-quality’ debates. It was abolished inthe 1920s.
Despite its uselessness, the Upper House sitting area is still properly maintained. Like this lamp, it is cleaned every year usually in January. If it’s not properly maintained, say bye to another Queensland heritage.
Before we entered the Lower House sitting area, we were brought to this room that contains all the state parliamentary debates across Australia. Victoria in the right, then Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and finally Western Australia in the right (the photo only shows up till New South Wales, the rest is located in another shelves). The materials are regularly updated and lawmakers can use these resources for parliamentary debate. I bet there should be the debate about extension to Perth’s trading hours 😀 .
Located above the room is the library. But, we were not brought there.
Entering the Lower House, this is where the backbenchers sit. The seats have been preserved of its orginality. Currently, the ALP leads the state government with Anna Bligh as the premier whereas on the opposition side is John Paul-Langbroek from LNP. A state election is due before 2012 and it is predicted that Labor will lose power (after the Victorian election defeat, where Ted Bailieu of LNP will be sworn in as Victoria’s premier).
One electoral constituency in Queensland should contains 30,000 voters. Usually the size of the constituency is quite small in southeast Queensland but it can be very big in the western areas such as Mt Isa or Charleville.
There is a limit to the length of speech given by lawmakers. In Canberra it’s 4 minutes for each answer sessions and 30 seconds for question time. In Queensland it’s 2 minutes for …, 4 minutes for … and 30 minutes for … . There was a case in the past when a lawmaker had a speech for 27 hours and that’s why the time limit.
After that, we were brought down again.
Queensland Parliament currently has 32 women lawmakers and was the first state to have a woman lawmaker in the parliament.
That’s all for now, folks!