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Australia’s National Parliament – “Recollections of a Bleeding Heart” – Don Watson

March 10th, 2012 · No Comments · Architecture, Australian, Australiana, Politics

AUSTRALIA’S NATIONAL PARLIAMENT is interred in a vast lawn beneath a giant rattling aluminium Hills Hoist of a flagpole on a hill, an elephantine expression of the suburban dream, yet wanting only a few sheep and a Southern Cross windmill on it to also represent the rural rump. Little tractors with flashing lights incessantly mow and fertilise the grass. The gardeners wear neat brown uniforms and broad hats suggesting a sanitised link with the frontier or our Olympic team. There are always magpies on the lawns, an occasional one dead from weedkiller, and high in the eaves currawongs watch with evil yellow eyes. The north entrance is principally for visitors and tourists. Staff come in the other end—the ‘executive’ or ‘ministerial’ entrance. The building is so big, its interior so vast and confusing, that when I was first required to go from one entrance to the other I could only manage it by going outside and walking over the hill. It’s easier to get your bearings outside: there’s the water spout on Lake Burley Griffin, the Presbyterian church by Canberra Avenue, the Brindabella ranges, and the old Parliament House—and at night one can navigate by familiar constellations in the blanket of stars. Inside it wants for nothing except reality.

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