The Land of Other People’s Milk and Honey

A couple of months ago, Spartacus took the mini Spartacii to Canberra to check out Parliament House. It had been a while since Spartacus had ventured to the land of other people’s milk and honey.  The Commonwealth Parliament remains striking for its scale and opulence. Having also visited the US Capitol and the British Parliament it was even more striking.

But watching “our ABC” last night, Spartacus was even more gob smacked as the the scale and profligacy of the enterprise.  On ABC last night was Annabell Crabb’s new show The House, a behind the scenes tour.  Breathtaking it was.

According to the annual reports of the Departments of the Senate and the House of Representatives, they each receive approximately $21 million per annum of tax dollars. And this probably does not even cover the total cost of running the whole place.

All this to support 150 members of parliament and 76 senators; an average of $185,000 per elected representative.

The symbol of Parliament is an important one, but perhaps a little less gold plating.  It’s no wonder these people can’t balance a budget.

Follow I Am Spartacus on Twitter at @Ey_am_Spartacus

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to The Land of Other People’s Milk and Honey

  1. feelthebern

    Come the revolution, parliament will sit in an unairconditioned shed at Longreach.
    That will ensure that the likes of Christopher Pyne will be too soft to ever seek office.

    Government offices will be moved from the current ritzy CBD addresses around the country to suburbs with the highest refugee population in each state.

    Instead of private planes & private car services, pollies will be given access to Skype, FaceTime etc to ensure that the Tony Burkes of the world will not be forced to fly new wife/old wife plus kids, business class at that tax payers expense.

  2. OneWorldGovernment

    The underground ‘warrens’ are the most incredible part.

  3. Mother Lode

    If they are going to move parliament to Longreach the price of the friands at The Lazy Sheep will likely go up to $50 a pop if you keep the same catering staff – and they will pat themselves on the back for having negotiated down from $50.10

    Hinch would take the Comcar to Barcaldine where there is always space to fall over in one of the five pubs. They might even re-open The Globe.

  4. Rafe Champion

    In the office of the Sydney Institute is a photo of the Old Parliament House, it is an elegant, symmetrical and it does not dominate the landscape. In comparison the new one is obscene, a visual representation of Big Government, both inside and out.
    Some of the early occupants of the New Jerusalem made critical comments about the loss of the sense of a human community that they experienced in the old house.

  5. Robbo

    $42 million to fund our Federal Parliament and the peanuts we elect to represent us. I would be happy to see that sum doubled if the bastards stopped doing anything and just sat back and enjoyed the ride. Every time one of these idiots has a so-called good idea it ends up costing us dearly.

  6. Bruce of Newcastle

    I propose relocating government to the geographic centre of the Australian continent.
    That would be more inclusive and would give better representation and employment opportunities for indigenous peoples.
    We could hold a referendum on it alongside the constitution amendment one.

  7. lily

    Tax payers money has been spent at the War Memorial and it is well worth it.
    Parliament House terrible, I prefer the old one.

  8. Des Deskperson

    So far as I am aware, Parliament House is the only Commonwealth entity that still directly employs electricians, plumbers, handymen, gardeners and similar ‘physical’ grades. Unlike outsourced or contracted suppliers, these people are covered by a similar performance management regime to other public servants, which means that they are for all practical purposes unsackable.

    Generally speaking, the workplace culture at Parliament House is about two decades out of date, slack and inefficient. This organisation senility has been attributed to the influence of the heads of the Departments of the House of Representatives and the Senate, who have stymied any reforms by telling the politicians that change would affect their comfort and convenience.

    Whether due to this or not, the House is reportedly in bad shape physically, the result of lax care and maintenance.

  9. Tim Neilson

    In comparison the new one is obscene, a visual representation of Big Government, both inside and out.

    Apparently the architect designed the semi-underground look with the idea that ordinary people would be able to walk on the grass bits and use them for recreation, as a symbol that government is subordinate to the citizens.

    But then that got banned because security.

    So we’re just left with the grandiosity.

  10. .

    No more kiddies rolling down the grass of Parliament Hill?

    Quite frankly I like old Parliament House. The new building looks imposing, like a Tower of Canberra.

  11. H B Bear

    The underground ‘warrens’ are the most incredible part.

    Nothing incredible about the above ground Warrens.

  12. H B Bear

    Like most tin pot countries there is an inverse relationship between the size and grandeur of the parliamentary building and the effectiveness and quality of its contents.

  13. cynical1

    Larissa Waters did a lovely reno of her office.

    Still I suppose after 5 years use, a 500K refurb was needed.

  14. Tim Neilson

    Come the revolution, parliament will sit in an unairconditioned shed at Longreach.

    Is the land round Longreach useful for anything? Canberra is a waste of good grazing land. It would be a pity to make the same mistake again.

  15. Tim Neilson

    Like most tin pot countries there is an inverse relationship between the size and grandeur of the parliamentary building and the effectiveness and quality of its contents.

    CN Parkinson of “Parkinson’s Law” wrote about that kind of phenomenon. One of his many examples was that Waterloo was planned from some poky little hovels behind Horse Guards Parade, but Gallipoli and the Somme were planned from a truly magnificent “War Office” HQ.

  16. In comparison the new one is obscene, a visual representation of Big Government, both inside and out.

    Apparently the architect designed the semi-underground look with the idea that ordinary people would be able to walk on the grass bits and use them for recreation, as a symbol that government is subordinate to the citizens.

    That is the “official” explanation, Tim, but it is at best a band aid to hide the truth. In the original Burley-Griffin plan, Parliament House was supposed to be on the flat between the current location and the Old Parliament House. On top of the hill was supposed to be a “People’s Palace”. The symbolism was that “the people” were forever above parliament. Now, with the Old Parliament House a museum and art gallery – a building “for the people”, The Parliament looks down on the common man in perpetuity. The intended symbolism is fully reversed.

    Just as an interesting aside, the Parliamentary Triangle exactly reproduces the “Seeing Eye Pyramid” on the obverse side of the American Great Seal, as depicted on the back of the US one dollar bill. Even the shore of Lake Burley Griffin follows the scroll at the bottom of the Great Seal.

    Further, the entire alignment of the new Parliament House, the Parliamentary Triangle, the War Memorial and out to Mt Ainslie exactly reproduces the intended layout of Wewelsburg Castle and surrounds, built by Himmler for the Nazi SS during WWII.

    Canberra is an interesting place.

  17. Rabz

    It is an inexcusable neo-brutalist monstrosity (BIRM). The old building I rather actually like. I remember going there back in about 1974 with dad and sitting in the public gallery observing the house of reps.

    St Gough, of course, was PM at the time.

  18. .

    CN Parkinson of “Parkinson’s Law”

    Every day this man is quoted is a great day.

  19. Philippa Martyr

    Generally speaking, the workplace culture at Parliament House is about two decades out of date, slack and inefficient. This organisation senility has been attributed to the influence of the heads of the Departments of the House of Representatives and the Senate, who have stymied any reforms by telling the politicians that change would affect their comfort and convenience.

    Whether due to this or not, the House is reportedly in bad shape physically, the result of lax care and maintenance.

    Wow. So just like the country, then.

  20. Paul Farmer

    The parliament itself is unfortunately just the tip of the iceberg. The sheer scale of waste (inefficiency) running through the echleons of bureaucracy in Canberra dwarfs the waste of the politicians . Canberra is no different than Washington, it has become a swamp of public servants who feel entitled to a lifestyle that the rest of the country can only dream of. That cringeworthy video put out by Dept of Finance some months back of graduates and the work they do showed just how far removed from reality most of those folk are, one couldnt help but think most of these bureaucrats seriously think the work they are doing is making an important and serious contribution to the running of the nation, hence their sense of entitlement……these people inhabit a totally different world to the rest of Australia………Australia needs its swamp drained just as much as the USA.

  21. Des Deskperson

    ‘Quite frankly I like old Parliament House.’

    In the late eighties, I had a job that required me to be frequently in attendance at what was then new Parliament House.

    I was, as they say, gobsmacked by its shoddiness compared to the old place. It wasn’t just the tacky ‘office modern’ decor and furniture compared with the leather and panelled splendour of the old place, it was the poor workmanship, I remember all the door frames being cracked, split or dented, something you certainly wouldn’t put up with in a new house of your own.

    And the Minister’s offices – or at least the ones I saw – were crammed into odd corners and angles, nothing like the solid squareness of the old place.

  22. iain russell

    Eeyore, this very point was made before and during construction. It was a heaven sent gift that kept giving to the various mini-criminal outfits which coalesced into the major cartel, the CFMEU. It was never about The People, it was about thieving from The People to feed the gluttons in the ACTU.

  23. Crossie

    I propose relocating government to the geographic centre of the Australian continent.
    That would be more inclusive and would give better representation and employment opportunities for indigenous peoples.
    We could hold a referendum on it alongside the constitution amendment one.

    In that case the new seat of government would be located somewhere along the Birdsville Track. No need to upgrade the Track, if it’s good enough for rally drivers it should be good enough for our tough pollies and their media hangers on.

  24. Zyconoclast

    Come the revolution, parliament will sit in an unairconditioned shed at Longreach.
    That will ensure that the likes of Christopher Pyne will be too soft to ever seek office.

    Government offices will be moved from the current ritzy CBD addresses around the country to suburbs with the highest refugee population in each state.

    Instead of private planes & private car services, pollies will be given access to Skype, FaceTime etc to ensure that the Tony Burkes of the world will not be forced to fly new wife/old wife plus kids, business class at that tax payers expense.

    Far too complicated and generous.

    Deport them to places like Sudan and Afganistan.
    Put them on the do not return list at the airports.

    They can conduct their best business via mobile phone.

  25. Dr Fred Lenin

    When politicians are restricted to one term in a lifetime , political parties are banned ,lawyers are forbidden to stand for office and All laws must be be approved by referenda ,there will be no need for this monstrosity we have now , perhaps we can turn it into the ” people’s palace ” . Though why after the public service is privatised and decentralised all over the remotest parts of Australia no one would want to go there to the ghost town that is a suburb of Queanbeyan ,NSW .

  26. .

    I was, as they say, gobsmacked by its shoddiness compared to the old place. It wasn’t just the tacky ‘office modern’ decor and furniture compared with the leather and panelled splendour of the old place, it was the poor workmanship, I remember all the door frames being cracked, split or dented, something you certainly wouldn’t put up with in a new house of your own.

    Wow. What a crap shack.

  27. old bloke

    As MV said, the new Parliament House was built on Capitol Hill which was planned to remain unoccupied, Parliament was to remain down-hill from the hill. I remember that Capitol Hill had a geological fault of some sort, an area near the summit was fenced off. Capitol Hill’s only residents were feral foxes, some things don’t change.

    The new Parliament House is an incredibly ugly building, it appears that the building was designed by six different architects who had to merge their concepts together, I’m sure their plans were based on an interstate bus terminal.

    I didn’t see “The House” but I wonder if it covered the member’s gym and swimming pool. When I was shown around there once I was told that the gym has two fulltime attendants 24 hours a day, one being a trained nurse, to make sure that the members using the facilities don’t die of heart attacks. That isn’t likely though, no one appears to use the place.

  28. James Hargrave

    Surely the ‘new’ parliament building is now out of date and requires an even bigger replacement as a monument to the cavernous ego of the current chief inmate.

    Entirely agree about how much more impressive its predecessor is.

    For overpriced and ugly, thus ideal models for the even newer parliament, try the pointless buildings in Edinburgh and Cardiff for bodies constitutionally akin to the NT Assembly – again at the expense of far better old buildings set aside for the purpose… My urge is to move the UK parliament to Milton Keynes for ‘security’. A nice semi subterranean bunker in the middle of nowhere would do fine – which is what, to some extent is achieved in Canberra (and the traffic circulation is similarly dire). But I laugh at the concerns for security: security might be needed against the tax payers who are mulcted to pay for the folly, i.e. those whom the inmates represent, but I am less convinced that deranged votaries of Mohammedanism (to echo W S Churchill) would bother themselves with it.

  29. Squirrel

    Slightly amazing that it is “only” $21 million per annum – but as others have noted, far larger sums are being spent, for questionable benefit, not too far from the pollies’ palace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *