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Research Guides

Parliament House Canberra, 1927

Appendix 3 - Further reading

Books and articles

Daley, Charles Studdy, As I Recall: Reminiscences of Early Canberra, ed. Shirley Purchase, Mulini Press, Cook, ACT, 1994.

Dick, George, Parliament House Canberra Golden Jubilee, AGPS Press, Canberra, 1977.

Federal Capital Commission, Canberra and the Territory for the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth: A brief review of history, features and progress, Federal Capital Commission, Canberra, 1927 (Cover title: Souvenir of the opening of Parliament House at Canberra by His Royal Highness the Duke of York K.G. – available at the National Library of Australia).

Fitzgerald, A, Canberra's Engineering Heritage, Institute of Architects, Canberra, 1983.

Gibbney, J, Canberra 1913–53, AGPS Press, Canberra, 1988.

Gugler, Ann, The Builders of Canberra, 1909–29, Part One, Temporary Camps and Settlements, CPN Publications, Canberra, 1994.

McDonald, D I, 'Architect Murdoch and the Provisional Parliament House', Canberra Historical Journal, March 1985, p 18.

Hansard and parliamentary papers

These sources provide very interesting and accessible information. Hansard records what was said during debates of the Commonwealth Parliament and not only gives the facts but also reveals the personalities of those involved and their attitudes towards Canberra. The traditional Victoria versus New South Wales rivalry is evident. Reports presented to Parliament, later printed as Parliamentary Papers, give summaries of the architectural competition and the construction and opening ceremony.

Sets of Hansard reports and Parliamentary Papers are available in all National Archives' reading rooms. Sets of Parliamentary Papers may not be complete and holdings vary from office to office. Parliamentary Papers are also available in State libraries, university libraries and the National Library of Australia.

Hansard, 26 July 1923, pp. 1668–1678

This covers the debate in the House of Representatives on the proposal to build a provisional Parliament House. The proposal was passed and a Loan Bill containing a component for the Federal Territory was raised to facilitate the construction.

Hansard, 17 August 1923, pp. 2984–3042

The debate about the Loan Bill in the House of Representatives. Interestingly, this does not address the provisional Parliament House, probably because the House had already agreed to its construction.

Hansard, 24 August 1923, pp. 3425–3443

This covers the debate in the Senate on the Loan Bill to allow the construction to proceed. The Senate attempted to amend the Bill to force the Government to construct a permanent building.

Hansard, 24 August 1923, pp. 3655–3657

The House of Representatives refused to accept the amendment as the amount was provided in the Bill 'in order that effect may be given to a Resolution of the House which was passed without division, in favour of the erection of a Provisional Parliament House in Canberra'.36

Hansard, 24 August 1923, pp. 3543–3539

Further debate ensued when the reply came from the House of Representatives. Many senators still opposed a provisional building, but eventually agreed to pass the Bill so that work could proceed on establishing the Seat of Government at Canberra.

Hansard, 9 May 1927

The entire Hansard report for 9 May 1927 details the official proceedings of the Opening Ceremony. The speeches by the Prime Minister and Duke of York, the
message of congratulations from King George V and the King's Commission empowering the opening of Parliament at Canberra are given. It also covers the sitting
at 5.00 pm in the evening when Parliament was adjourned until sufficient facilities could be moved from Melbourne.

Parliamentary papers

Federal Capital – Correspondence between the Minister for Home Affairs, W B Griffin and others, 1914–17, Vol. II, pp. 885–1017 (Paper No 53).

Federal Capital – Documents necessary to complete Parliamentary Paper No 53, Session 1914–17, Vol. II, pp. 1019–1065.

These two papers mainly cover the debate between Griffin and the Government about the implementation of his design for the city. There is information about the
involvement of Griffin in developing the competition for a permanent Parliament House. The section titled Federal Parliament House – Architectural Competition – Revised Conditions – Correspondence (pp 991–1004) contains correspondence mainly from Murdoch and Griffin about the proposal to revise the conditions of the competition when it was revived in 1916.

Erection of Provisional Parliament House Canberra, Session 1923–24, Vol. IV, pp. 645–670.

This is the report from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works on the proposal to build a provisional Parliament House. It includes a short history of the competition, the evidence collected from witnesses for and against a provisional building and the sort of features the building should contain, and the committee's recommendations. The sketch plans prepared by John Murdoch are provided. The numerous witnesses include: P T Owen (Director-General of Works), A Wadsworth (Commonwealth Parliamentary Librarian), J Murdoch (Chief Architect, Department of Works and Railways), C H P Robinson (Commonwealth Parliamentary Reporting Staff), H A Davies (Federal Press Gallery Committee), William Morris Hughes (Prime Minister of Australia 1915–23), James Fairfax (Newspaper proprietor) and Walter Burley Griffin (Federal Capital Director of Design and Construction).

Federal Capital Advisory Committee Reports

These reports document the progress of the construction of Canberra. They cover all building, sanitation, water, roads, hotels, schools and so on. Information about Parliament House is brief and mainly concerns the recommendation by the Committee to postpone the idea of a monumental building and construct a provisional building. The Third General Report contains a plan of the city.

First General Report, 1920–21, Vol. III, pp. 2027–2069.

Second General Report ,1922, Vol. II, pp. 2791–2804.

Third General Report, 1926–28, Vol. II, pp. 1037–1080.

Annual Reports of the Federal Capital Commission

These reports are similar to those of the Advisory Committee, covering all aspects of the construction of Canberra. They all contain progress reports on the construction of the provisional Parliament House giving details of materials used. All reports contain photographs from the Mildenhall collection (A3560). The Third Annual Report contains a report on the Opening Ceremony and Royal Visit, with photographs.

First Annual Report, 1926–28, Vol. II, pp. 1081–1116.

Second Annual Report, 1926–28, Vol. II, pp. 1117–1184.

Third Annual Report, 1926–28, Vol. II, pp. 1185–1305.

All notes

36 Hansard, 24 August 1923, p. 3657.