As far as I can work out from its website, outside the rare ‘Open Day’ the Australian Capital Territory’s (ACT) Legislative Assembly (local government – see footnote below) building is only open to school groups.
Dear Reader, let that not unduly concern you as, I my humble opinion, the building is downright ugly and jaded, entirely befitting its cohort of Honourable Members.
Notwithstanding calls for the modernist style building to be heritage listed, I can see neither architectural nor historical merit in it.
The 1950s or 1960s building forms part of a small cultural precinct with the Canberra Theatre Centre, the City’s main library and the Canberra Museum and Gallery opposite. The building, which became home to the Legislative Assembly in 1994, can be viewed, externally, when visiting one of these much more worthy institutions.
One thing, though certainly not my personal favourite piece of artwork in the City and actually totally unrelated to the Legislative Assembly, that is worth a look here is the statue of Ethos, located outside the Assembly Building’s main entrance.
The copper winged female figure was created by Tom Bass and unveiled in 1961.
When commissioned it was intended that the work would celebrate the spirit of the community and emphasise the non-political side of Canberra – the commercial and private enterprise side of the city, if you will.
Ethos stands in a dish bearing a relief map of the City and holds aloft a bursting sun representing culture and enlightenment.
A small plaque by Ethos reads:
I am Ethos
Though I do not speak with words
I speak to you in other ways
I say to you that
I am the spirit of this place
and it’s people
I am the original spirit
and the spirit of now
I rise from the earth
and reach for the sun
I bring together
the old and the new
In me there is
no violence or war
only peace and reconciliation
I am the love,
peace and beauty
of this place
I give you these things
every day and always.
Footnote: Lest my reader be interested, a short summary of Government in the ACT.
Canberra’s unicameral Parliament came into existence in 1989 when the Commonwealth Government ceded administration of the ACT to locally elected representatives. Unlike Australia’s six States and the Northern Territory, the ACT does not have a vice-regal position with certain of that position’s normal role being exercised by the Chief Minister (head of government) and law being enacted on ‘notification’ – publication in the Government Gazette – as opposed to on vice-regal assent. As with the Northern Territory, the ACT Legislative Assembly has more limited power than State legislatures and, for instance, legislation passed by the Assembly can be overridden by the Commonwealth. Although rare, this happened when the Territory’s Civil Union Act 2006 permitting same-sex civil unions was overruled on the basis that civil unions were akin to marriages – a matter reserved for Commonwealth jurisdiction. Again, unlike other States and the Northern Territory, the ACT Legislative Assembly also functions as a local Council for Canberra, which has no other level local government.
Address: 196 London Circuit Civic Square, Canberra