Both before and after Australia became a Federation, there was fierce debate about where the new federal territory and seat of government should be located. The country's two dominant cities, Sydney and Melbourne, would not agree to the other being the capital. After much discussion, it was decided that parliament would sit in Melbourne until a site was chosen. The first Commonwealth Parliament met there in May 1901.
In 1908, the site for the capital city of Australia, Canberra, was finally chosen.
Australia’s federal Parliament House would be the focal point for this new, planned city. A temporary Parliament House was built in the 1920s, to be used until a permanent building could be constructed. This building was called the Provisional Parliament House, it is today known as Old Parliament House. The new Australian Parliament House was built in the 1980s and opened in 1988.
Originally farmland, the area around Parliament House has been transformed into a busy city. Today it is home to hundreds of thousands of people.
- Year 3 History
- Year 5 Geography
- Compare the original Griffin plan for Canberra with the aerial view from 1988. How is modern Canberra similar to the original plan?
- What are the main differences between the old Parliament House and the new one? Why do you think parliament needed to move from the old Parliament House?
- How has the built environment around Parliament House changed since the early days of Canberra? Why do you think it has changed?