Australia’s former parliament building in the capital Canberra was briefly set alight on Thursday by protesters during a demonstration for Aboriginal sovereignty, police said.
No-one was injured in the fire, which engulfed the Old Parliament House’s front doors before it was put out.
It follows a fortnight of protest activity at the site, police said.
Protest violence on this scale is rare in Australia, but flare-ups have become more common during the pandemic.
Some of the protesters had identified themselves as part of anti-government and “sovereign citizen” groups, observers said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison condemned the violence, saying: “This is not how Australia works.”
“I am disgusted and appalled by behaviour that would see Australians come and set fire to such a symbol of democracy in this country,” he said.
Workers inside the heritage building were quickly evacuated once the fire broke out on Thursday.
The current residents of the building, the Museum of Australian Democracy, had on 20 December shut its doors after indigenous protesters held a “peaceful sit-in”.
The museum said it recognised protesters’ rights to a peaceful protest. It has not yet addressed Thursday’s protest.
More footage of people watching as a fire consumes the front entrance to Old Parliament House in Canberra. Police and other agencies will have lots of footage to work with as they investigate. pic.twitter.com/xwbhlpB5zM
— Siobhan Heanue (@siobhanheanue) December 30, 2021
Indigenous campaigners have been holding demonstrations in the lead-up to the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy on the former parliament’s front lawns.
The tent embassy was a protest occupation site that launched national discussion about indigenous land rights. It has been a permanent fixture on the lawns outside Old Parliament House since 1992 but is not always occupied.
Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Police said activity had escalated at the site in recent weeks.
Australia’s parliament moved to a new building a short distance away on Capital Hill in 1988, but the Old Parliament House has remained as a museum and national heritage site.
Government lawmakers condemned the attack on Thursday, with several describing it as an “attack on democracy”.
“Setting fire to a building is not a lawful protest, it is a crime and a serious one,” tweeted the deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce.
His predecessor, and current MP, Michael McCormack said: “Old Parliament House is on fire with protesters screaming “Let it burn! Let it burn!” How disgraceful. An outrageous attack on our democracy, our history, our sovereignty. This modern penchant for tearing down our past serves no purpose.”
ACT Police said they had launched an investigation into the cause of the fire.
9 thoughts on “Australia: Protesters set Old Parliament House in Canberra on fire”
I guess imposing poison vaccine on people and children is democracy. Great job, the so-called government have committed treason, genocide and financial terrorism don’t they deserave hanging? that is true democracy
As democracy equals progressivism which equals communism, fascism, which is capitalism, I suppose so.
Happy new year Henry and Family. We have the Common Law of We the People. This make us the official Law of this land!!! Consider yourself the law!!!!! ( To all Who Read This ) Happy New Year! Ken & Bobbi
TWO BARRELS SAWED OFF!! FIRE.. SMOKE AND HOT LEAD!!! Happy happy
TRY HARDER DAMMIT!
I am a happy man today. This is a very good sign. I always say we need to start doing something about it, this is one step closer. Fire is a remarkable tool.
I thought similarly, Jamal. It’s the building version of going for the suit. Go to their sacred halls of mischief and madness. They stole architecture from the people, made their structures in the chambers of tyranny. it will be fun to recapture those grand places and make them testaments to The Bill of Rights where the peoples’ justice is honored. Of course, we do not need anything fancy. An old barn will do, but still, architecture is ours to do with as we will, not to be subjected by.
“Prime Minister Scott Morrison condemned the violence, saying: “This is not how Australia works“
And your lockdown way is?
Well now you know how Australians REALLY feel. What goes around comes around.
NEW YEARS RESOLUTION!!! HONOR YOURSELF & REMEMBER YOUR FAMILY… DONT GET VAXXED!!!!